I’m not voting third party in November. Here’s why you shouldn’t, either.

I’ve seen a definite uptick in heated (and worse) conversations between Clinton and Sanders supporters lately, so I’m gonna go ahead and toss this one out.

I’ve been open about the fact that I like Bernie Sanders. I think he’s done great things for us in this election. He still has a chance of winning, but it’s an outside chance at best.


At one time, I was ride-or-die for Hillary Clinton. I’m more ambivalent about her these days and I’m sure I will not like her foreign or economic policies. But I know she’s not a bigoted demagogue who condones violence, and I know she’s not an evangelical fundamentalist who bars “liberal” journalists from his rallies and wants to ban specific musical intervals because they are Satanic. That’s all I can afford to care about in this election.

So, if the time comes when it’s necessary for me to do so, I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. My conscience tells me it would be irresponsible to do otherwise. My conscience also tells me to try and persuade as many likely Democratic voters as possible to stay on board and turn out for the nominee in November, no matter who that happens to be.

If Sanders wins, I promise you this. I will do everything in my power to work against the onslaught of ignorant socialist caricatures his enemies will use to erode his support. And to keep my centrist Dem friends on board with him. I could work myself up and become genuinely enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders. But only if he wins the primaries, and that is out of my hands.

Should Clinton win, she gets the same consideration. I’ll work against all the half-truths her enemies formulate by digging through her long career in public service and ripping things out of context. And against the inevitable misogyny that will be slung at her from all directions. I will do my best to work myself up, to be a genuinely enthusiastic advocate for her, and to keep my lefty friends on board.

I’ve stayed out of this primary argument because I tend to make pretty bold, sometimes provocative, statements when I wade off into politics and I have a low tolerance for ignorant bullshit. I’ve felt so far that taking a strong position in favor of either candidate, for me, could only be counterproductive. I think that was the right call.

I’m not attacking either candidate. I’m offering my opinion on how I think things, realistically, will play out for the remainder of this election season. And encouraging you to show up for the Democratic nominee in November.

There have been a few positive developments for Bernie Sanders over the last couple of weeks, but I honestly don’t believe he is on a trajectory win the nomination. If I’m wrong, I’ll good-naturedly admit it and support him in the general election. But I don’t think I am.

From where I am sitting, the only way Hillary Clinton loses this nomination is if the RNC legal shenanigans turn up something so scandalous as be a career-ender and she has to bow out. I doubt that’s happening. I think if they were going to find something that juicy, we’d already have an inkling that it’s coming.

So I’m laying the groundwork to minimize nastiness among Democratic voters and maximize turnout in November. I don’t have much reach or influence, but I’m using what I’ve got to keep people positive and engaged.

Now let’s talk about what the Republicans are doing, and then about what we should do.


Rubio is gone. His delegates will be reapportioned and his exit probably helps Cruz and Kasich more than Trump, but Trump is still in the lead. And he is still Trump.

Kasich is in for awhile longer. He may or may not leave the race. At the moment, he seems to be looking for enough support on the East Coast to play for first or second place in California and New Jersey, then walk into a brokered convention with RNC backing.

This will not happen, in my opinion. Kasich is just a spoiler at this point. The nomination will be won by either Trump or Cruz outright. The country club Republicans and the CEOs are already showing signs of holding their noses and lining up behind the crazy-like-a-fox Tea Party guy, but I think if Kasich stays in through the summer, Trump wins.

As titillating as I find the idea of a contested convention re-aligning the GOP toward the center, I don’t think it’s realistic. I don’t see anyone in their camp with the influence to broker a deal that big, and it’s not the sort of thing parties do all at once. A contested convention can only have three outcomes.

  1. Cruz gets the nomination and the Tea Party ends up in the driver’s seat;
  2. The whole thing descends into chaos, the conservative coalition shatters, and all bets are off but the Tea Party still ends up in the driver’s seat;
  3. Trump makes an alliance with the Tea Party and takes the nomination, then we spend the next four years watching the racists and religious extremists fight it out.

Republican moderates have yielded so much ground over the last 30 years, there simply aren’t enough of them left to restore sanity in the space of a few days at a convention. The GOP moderates are outnumbered and outmatched. They’re losing this one. One of the reasons I can still manage empathy for them even though they did this to themselves is because I know what that feels like. It’s unpleasant.

So we’re likely ending up with Clinton v. Trump or Cruz in the general election. Either way, the Republican will get the most free media time, because even though Trump is playing us all for fools and Cruz does his best to act like a crazy person, they are both more entertaining to the reality-tv crowd than Hillary Clinton.

Pro Wrestling rules are in effect. Airtime decisions are mostly about ratings and ad revenue. Not about giving everyone equal time. Not about what’s best for the country.

So, what do we do with this hot mess of an election? My wife and I have three rules of engagement for November. If you are a U.S. citizen and eligible to vote, I encourage you to think hard about this and consider adopting them, too.

  1. We don’t stay home in November for any reason.
  2. We don’t vote for candidate unless they have a credible chance of winning.
  3. We don’t vote for the Republican.

The rest of this is addressed to all you Democrats, you habitual third party voters who are not represented in any meaningful way, and you people who abstain or write in fictional characters because you’ve lost all faith in the two-party system. I’m even talking to some dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who are shocked at what their party has become.

You seasoned Republicans who remember the days when we were all working for peace and prosperity even though we had strong disagreements about the best way to get there. You Young Republicans who wish we could operate that way again. Everyone, however you identify politically, who would like an economic policy that gives working people a chance at a rising standard of living; and a foreign policy that doesn’t stretch our military to the breaking point and encourage our rivals to challenge us the way Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are challenging us now. I’m talking to you.

Also talking to all you lovely feminists. I am one of you and I wouldn’t even still be blogging at this point if not for your support. You gals and guys are my soul.Feminism_free

I’ve cast protest votes in just about every way possible at various times in my life. I’ve even written myself in for President. I understand what it’s like to feel marginalized in EVERY election and to wonder if the whole thing isn’t just a rigged game. I truly do. But this is not a year for such antics.

In this election, the right thing to do is to vote for whomever survives the Democratic primaries and wins the nomination.

Just in case you’ve not followed this election and you are too young to remember what happened last time we had a Republican President. Let me catch you up.

First of all, Republicans are not all bad and are not inherently evil. We had a guy named Eisenhower as a President one time. He was a thoughtful Army General from WWII. I’m not sure whether he did us any good or not — I’m not up what he actually did. But my sense has always been that he did his honest best not to do us harm.

Eisenhower Portrait from Wikimedia. Fair use applies.

Eisenhower Portrait from Wikimedia. Fair use applies.

The last Republican President who we can credibly argue did the country no harm left office in January of 1961. Let’s pause and let that sink in for a moment.  1961.

That’s better than 50 years ago. The last GOP President we had was ruinous. We’re still digging ourselves out of the hole he left us in. Bush II officially won in 2000 because he carried Florida by fewer than 600 votes and the Supreme Court handed him the office before a recount could be done. There were so many irregularities in Florida that year they ended up having to pass an election reform law after it was all over.

Bush may well have won that election if the votes in Florida had been counted properly. We’ll never know. Even if the full recount had been done, we wouldn’t know for sure. That’s how serious the irregularities were. But here’s the thing I always come back to when I think about 2000.

More than 93,000 Floridians went for Ralph Nader that year. Nader always insisted he didn’t spoil that election, but I don’t buy it. Here’s why.

I know a lot of the people who voted Nader were Green Party true believers fighting for a win that would get them ballot privileges in all 50 states and were trying to build a long-term thing. I know a lot were people who never vote for one of the two big parties and some were Republicans who liked Nader’s message. But if I recall correctly, Nader’s platform was mostly about environmentalism and reining in corporate malfeasance.

That means many of his supporters had to be Democrats and lefties. I know my tribe. A lot of Dems were disillusioned with the party that year and thought Clinton had yielded too much to the conservatives. A lot bought the false media narrative that Al Gore was a pompous, wooden snob who didn’t have a chance against Bush. But I have to imagine at least a couple of thousand of those Floridians who voted Nader did so because they were pissed off that their favored candidate lost the nomination or because they thought Gore was too “centrist” and willing to compromise.

Nader image from Wikimedia. Fair use applies.

Nader image from Wikimedia. Fair use applies.

Those 2,000 votes, my friends, would have swung the whole election, and the reasons I mentioned above are just about the worst reasons I can think of to cast a protest vote.

I’m not sure what kind of President Gore would have been, but he wouldn’t have handed over the military complex to Neoconservatives who thought they could Anglicize the Middle East without burning the entire region to the ground.

He wouldn’t have handed over the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to the free market fundamentalists who allowed Wall Street to turn our banking sector into a casino and nearly sunk the global economy. Nothing else matters when I assess the Bush II administration. In my opinion, that long string of horrors flows from his choice of military, diplomatic, and economic advisers.

So I urge you. Even if you are disillusioned by the two-party system or you can’t stand Clinton or you can’t stand Sanders. Even if you live in a safe Republican state and feel your vote doesn’t matter. Please vote for the Dem this time around anyway.

The popular vote margin matters, even in safe states. A wide enough popular vote margin can make a razor-thin Electoral College win look like a landslide. And we don’t just want the Democratic nominee to win. We want them to be able to claim a mandate. Because the only way our Republican Party has a chance to right their ship is if the voters repudiate them so emphatically they are forced to examine their tactics and re-commit themselves to governing instead of obstructing their adversaries out of spite and playing to the most base parts of our natures to win elections.

I totally buy the argument here that protest voting just because your preferred candidate loses a primary is indicative of privilege. So, let’s all us who have some privilege and know it check ours this time around in the service of the greater good. I’m a white, hetero, Christian man with a graduate degree. I am privileged. I’m not letting my privilege get the better of me this year.


Wherever you stand philosophically. However you feel about Hillary or Bernie. If you are as alarmed by Trump and Cruz as I am, you’re looking at a situation in which the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

I don’t know how much more clear I can be about all this, and I’ve done my best to provide you with talking points. Short-term alliances and putting aside even deep ideological differences to get it done are the order of the day.

If this turns out to be more than we can handle and we lose, let’s at least face the next four years together with the knowledge that we didn’t go quietly. If we can just make that much progress, this is survivable.

Now get out there and save the soul of your country.

20 thoughts on “I’m not voting third party in November. Here’s why you shouldn’t, either.

  1. “If this turns out to be more than we can handle and we lose, let’s at least face the next four years together with the knowledge that we didn’t go quietly. If we can just make that much progress, this is survivable.”

    In most apocalyptic fare Alaska tends to be a safe place to live. Maybe not against Kaiju, but otherwise, pretty good. So… that’s my plan at that point, actually.

    Had a fascinating conversation yesterday around the brunch table, surrounded as normal by a bunch of Republican insiders and politically-connected people. The sort of people sitting flabbergasted and appalled by Drumpf. But also a Devil’s Advocate, trying to consider the is-this-better-than-voting-Democrat-or-third-party position.

    There’s a lot of months left to figure out where they all go. Honestly, Alaska is an interesting one. We had a write-in Senate race won just a couple years back. Where they had to spell a complicated name correctly, no less. But our three electoral votes just might not matter… or might make all the difference in the world. I am still proud of the fact that the state didn’t go majority for Drumpf. Already showing a buck in the trend. And Bernie just set up a shop in town, so that push has begun…

    I am part of your audience in the second half of the post, I get that. I don’t know where my vote is going yet. I mean, I know where it’s not going. Not sure where it’s going. I am, oddly enough, far more likely to vote for Bernie than Hillary. As I wrote today for InfiniteFreeTime (http://infinitefreetime.com/2016/03/21/guest-post-science-fiction-and-2016-by-compgeeksdavid/) I actually think a Sanders presidency is the least-harm scenario for the next four years – while doing the most good for expanding the nation’s politics as a whole. I may also be willing to do a whole lot of things I might not otherwise to vote against Drumpf. Like mailing my vote absentee from an undisclosed location.

    Probably Scotland.

    The Historian in me knows that the secret police would at some point come knocking for us, Gene’O. It’s too late. We’ve said too much. It’s too online. Too public. There is legitimate fear for health and well-being to consider in some of these future scenarios. Flip side, back to my opening comment… Alaska survives the apocalypse…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, just read this, played into the Brunch-time talk though I hadn’t read it yet… http://www.wsj.com/articles/will-the-gop-break-apart-or-evolve-1458257138

      A lot of unanswered questions, and I could see a number of them, in 8 months time, remaining unanswered about Drumpf. However, perhaps more frightening is if enough answers come in to assuage the fears of some “normal” Republicans. I can cross my fingers and hope that doesn’t happen, but…

      Oh, and as to Drumpf bringing a match to the convention… My thoughts went straight to this: http://memegenerator.net/instance/65353616

      Everything burns.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I said to a friend the other night that if this thing blows up and they come knocking for me, the last thing I am doing before I stand up and kiss the family is post a cute animal photo on Facebook with the status update “Good Night and Good Luck.”

      And maybe I am naive to think they’d just take me, but I still have that much faith in the country.

      You are right, though. They would data mine those of us who have put it out there for years and years to death. Would take them awhile to get around to us because we are small time. But yes, we’ve crossed the Rubicon here as far as the things we’ve said. Even public comment threads count and can be cross-referenced with our mobile IDs.

      Don’t think we’re even approaching that yet, though. For one thing, they’d have to purge the agencies required to carry out those orders of everyone who might refuse to follow orders. Most policeman and serving military are, in my mind, good people who agree with us more than them, and have strong moral backbones. We only see the worst of them in the media. If this were attempted too soon, it would end up looking a lot more like the early stages of the Russian Revolution with NCOs ordering the private soliders to relieve the officers of their sabers and taking over the trains than you think. Given the complexity of our system, and the resilience of our institutions, even at this late date, would take a few years.

      The thing to look out for, if you start to see the lights all flashing red:

      An all-out-assault on the legislative and judicial branches, the social safety net, and the quasi-public institutions of civil society.

      Authoritarians, once they control the state, always dismantle every part of it except what’s required to keep the population in check, pacify the people who financed them and put them in power, and grant patronage to their lieutenants. Always.

      I think we’re so far from that, I may be catastrophizing. But I thought I was catastrophizing in August when I was chastising my liberal friends for even suggesting that we vote for Trump in open primaries.

      The ironic thing is, he’s probably easier to beat than Cruz. But I can’t trust that because he’s too far over the line, and polling in a general election this far out is too sketchy. I want the megaphone ripped out of his hands with all due speed.

      I agree with you about President Bernie being the least harmful outcome. But I’ll settle for Clinton. I don’t think your actual vote in Alaska matters nearly as much as what you say about it publicly between now and November.

      And I doubt the Rep. nomination will come down to 3 delegates, but it might come down to 30. Also glad AK did not go for Drumpf. Eager to see which way you guys swing in the Dem caucus this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Also in the realm of world-enders, Cruz and Clinton both feel like elements of politics-as-usual, but the chances of the two of them facing off against each other feel low. It’s just something in the climate right now, I don’t see that happening. So like a Hillary presidency isn’t the end, in the end, neither is a Cruz presidency. But that sure is a lot of delegates to go…

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m hoping to get a post out tonight about tomorrow’s primaries. My sense as this point — and this is based on things I’ve been reading, not just what I think — is that anyone who says they are certain about how it ends are either delusional or a political operative working the “ineveitability” angle. Cruz’s chances are low. But if the GOP polling in Arizona is as wrong as the DEM polling was in Michigan and we see an upset tomorrow, could be a game-changer going into Wisconsin. Every candidate in this race needs Wisconsin.

          Not sure where the Dem primaries are going at this point, but pretty sure the Republicans are fighting it out ’til June, and if California doesn’t settle it, delegate-wrangling heading into the convention will.

          I don’t see a contested convention happening because I think someone will win or will be so close they’ll get what they need by making overtures to uncommitted delegates before the convention starts. Seriously. 30 delegates or less is the margin, unless I see the pattern change in Wisconsin or New York.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Something I’m trying to figure out right now is where “the base” is at in either party. It always feels like this bizarre unreal body of folks like Marx’s “the masses.” Maybe the best definition is it’s the base in a normal year which bothers to vote in primaries. But this year feels different.

            Liked by 1 person

            • The bases are coalitions built with identity politics and conditioned to prefer one party over the other by what the public officials say and by the effect of the policies over generations. Not that much purposeful political communication among individual members of the base. That’s why a super-organized faction like the Tea Party which knows how to raise money and get in the newspaper can sometimes run the table and get itself into a position of real influence.


              • But then I guess my point, on either side, is who is the base backing? At this point Kasich for the GOP? Do they like Hillary, or how far left the Bern is? Because the thought is also that the base is more solidly Conservative and Liberal.

                Liked by 1 person

                • The GOP base is fragmented. Part of the problem is that Trump and Cruz are playing for many of the same elements, and they’re splitting the religious vote. The more observant Christian Republicans are going for Cruz, the nominal/backslidden ones for Trump.

                  Bernie’s capturing the younger whites, Hillary and Bernie are fighting over more educated and parts of their base and the racial minorities. Labor leadership is supporting Hillary, but labor rank-and-file like Bernie so much there has been talk of revolts in some unions. Blacks in the south broke decisively for Hillary, but Bernie’s made inroads with black voters in the South, and Hillary has an edge with Hispanics, but not a huge one. I think way the race and labor in non-Southern states is breaking down indicates that a lot of lower-income voters are liking his message.

                  Liked by 1 person

            • Agree that in this election, it feels different. That’s the Great Demographic Shift kicking in. Millennials, LGBTQ+ people who are now very organized and savvy on account of fighting for their civil rights for 30 years, and people of color who have all had enough. Fighting against the forces of white reaction who understand the Bible and the Constitution the way 19th Century folk understood them, if they understand them at all, and who think if they just win this election, they can put everyone back in their proper place and it will all be ok like it was in the 1950’s.

              That is how I see the bases.

              Liked by 1 person

        • Also, I disagree with you about Cruz being business as usual. He will dance with the one who brung him. He will be a Tea Party President. But we’ve got all the time in the world to sort out our differences on that one :-D.

          Beat Drumpf, for now, is the thing.

          Liked by 1 person

            • He will have to work hard at that. Establishment may hold their noses and vote for him, but he is backed by a voting bloc and populist movement that says “Smash the GOP establishment” in the same tone of voice Diana, Gretchen, myself, et al. say “Smash the patriarchy.” Those people will own him. If the establishment goes for him instead of putting up a real fight, they are only prolonging their misery.

              The Tea Party’s relationship to the Republican Party as we’ve known is like the Germanic tribes primed to sack Rome. If they win, they will become the Romans. And they want to be the Romans.

              I seem to have Italy on the brain lately.

              Off to write about Arizona. I’ve fairly littered your internet space with comments tonight 😉

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry. I just can’t agree with this. You may well say “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but
    my brother and I have a saying of our own, “Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.” Hillary Clinton is an opportunist, a professional politician, and arguably a criminal. I do not agree with the vast majority of her political stances, and I do not know how I can cast a vote that says that I support her values and her beliefs.

    I agree that Trump is a far worse candidate, but the two-party system has failed us and it has failed us too many times to count. It’s the electoral college that let us down in 2000, not the Green Party voters. If the electoral college was eliminated and Gore’s winning of the popular vote had been sufficient, the state of Florida’s votes would be irrelevant and Gore would have entered the White House.


    • Thank you for your comment and it’s fine if you don’t agree and you can do whatever you want with your vote.

      Clinton is not “arguably a criminal” unless you’re willing to argue without evidence. She’s never been indicted of anything, much less convicted. It’s fine to dislike her passionately and to disagree with me. Not fine to sling around phrases like “arguably criminal” when you’ve got nothing to back it up. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

      Good day!


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