Who's to blame?

November 10, 2016

For as long as I’ve been able to vote, I’ve lived in the blue parts of California. Regardless of who I ended up casting a ballot for, my counties, cities, and state have almost always swing to the Democratic Party. There have been a few exceptions to that–we did elect Schwarzenegger after all.

Given the prevailing Democratic tendencies, it’s very easy to feel like your personal vote doesn’t actually make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Regardless, I’ve almost always voted Green Party. I vote Green not because I think it’s punk and cool and a middle finger to the establishment, but because the policies they advocate for are most inline with what I believe in. I try to do this on all levels of government, from local to federal. In San Francisco, your choices for local officials are often two Democrats, best described as left and slightly lefter. (With the relatively recent exception of folks like Matt Gonzalez.) In those cases, I’ll always lean into the more progressive of the candidates.

In other words, I always vote. I don’t abstain from voting if there isn’t a Green Party candidate. Abstaining is the worst decision a voter can make, because they’re throwing away an opportunity to make a statement.

Somehow, voting third party in local elections is commendable. It’s seen as “the right thing to do”, because the only way to break out of a two-party system is to start from the bottom-up. Attempting to change the system from the top-down is regarded as futile. That’s why, every four years, when there’s a candidate running for president, you’re told to just pick from two folks and disregard anyone else who might be competing. If you do happen to vote third party, you’re seen as a naïve imbecile, incapable of understanding how politics and government should work, and told that you’d be better of just moving to Iceland instead of living in reality in the United States of America.

This year’s election was no exception. The slightly lefter person lost to the catastrophically righter person, and the blame starts shifting to folks that voted third party. And, I’m ready to admit that given what I described earlier, voting third party in California isn’t that big of a difference. It swung Democrat, as expected. It’s places like Florida or Pennsylvania or Utah or Tennessee or Michigan that shouldn’t have third-party voters. If all those voters had just voted for Clinton, we wouldn’t be embarking into our dystopian nightmare.

I reject that premise, wholly and utterly. And I’m sick and tired of third-party voters being blamed for losses.

Every single time third parties are discussed nationally, the 2000 Gore-Bush-Nader election is referenced. Intelligent liberals like Michael Moore hold on to this notion that Nader “spoiled” Gore’s victory. But Gore didn’t lose Florida because of Nader’s voters. Gore lost because he ran a terrible platform. He ran a platform that many other citizens in many other states didn’t agree with.

Here’s the thing: we live in a democracy that supports a multi-party system. The other parties may not be likely to hold office, but they are allowed to exist nonetheless. A vote for a third party is an exercise of your national right. Anyone who coerces or shames someone about their voting choice is against the very idea of democracy.

No debate.

End of discussion.

Blaming voters of third parties is a convenient scapegoat that’s easy to justify because it’s easy to understand. But it’s a distraction from the truth that’s too horrifying to comprehend: that more people chose to vote for a misogynistic warmongering narcissistic bigot because they liked him.

More than anything else, this election did inform me that actually, yes, there is such a thing as the lesser of two evils. But I exercised the right to choose to vote amongst multiple parties, and will continue to exercise my right to vote on a candidate that I think best represents the future I want to build.

Who’s to blame? If we can’t blame the third party voters for not casting to Clinton, who can we blame?

Blame the millions of people who watched Trump’s show, stayed at Trump’s properties, and gave him any kind of platform at all. People enjoyed his brash quirkiness, fed his ego, and wanted to vacuum suck more of his vapidity. But an idiot that’s gaining notoriety thinks people are laughing with him, not at him. He thinks they’re agreeing with him.

Blame the DNC. They had an actual, outside-the-system progressive candidate, and they did everything they could to snuff him into the ground.

Blame the utterly, horribly misguided people that believe that a billionaire psychopath is going to care about anything other than making more profits for himself. Or maybe pity them instead.

Blame late-night talk shows for pandering to this buffoon.

Blame the fact that we still haven’t fixed our ridiculous Electoral College, even though everyone agrees it’s an astoundingly inaccurate representation.

Blame the politicians who abandoned their moral anchors and sought to latch onto that miserable rocket, people like Chris Christie or Ted Cruz.

Blame people who spewed garbage daily, like Rush Limbaugh. While driving through Texas, I heard him convince people that they should abandon their conscience and vote for a man who’s acted as nothing but a vile venomous demon, simply because he represented a certain party. Blame Ann Coulter for suggesting that only certain types of people ought to be able to vote.

Blame foreign actors like Putin who deliberately interfered with another sovereign state through means we can’t even imagine, simply for his own benefit. (Though, this may be a bit of political karma: how many elections has the U.S.A. meddled in?)

Blame the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which disenfranchised millions of people from casting a ballot.

Speaking of the disenfranchised, blame the 46% of eligible voters that did not vote. Don’t blame them too much, though. Since federal elections aren’t national holidays, as in many other civilized democracies, those who are the least likely to be able to take time off work to vote are the most susceptible to being screwed over by policies guided by the one percent.

Blame his lawyers who built a wall that fortifies him against any rebuke. Blame the sycophants who clamor over each other to get to the top of his friend list. Blame the businesspeople who made lucrative deals with this devil for decades (only to regret them as all their valuations tanked). Blame the people more concerned with their 401ks than their fellow neighbor. Blame the people who want to make sure their family is safe at the expense of someone else’s. Blame the misogynists for turning down an extraordinarily qualified candidate in favor of a man. Fuck, blame Twitter for not suspending accounts dedicating to harassing other people.

But don’t blame the people who voted for the pro-clean energy, pro-LGBTQ, pro-universal health care and -education, pro-choice, pro-environment, anti-gun, anti-big bank, anti-TPP, anti-Guantanamo, anti-discrimination, anti-surveillance, anti-militarization, anti-war candidate.