LIKE MANY YOUNG PEOPLE IN AMERICA, I can get disillusioned about the two-party political system. Every four years, I say to myself: I’m ready to vote for a third party. Every four years I scour the web for a viable alternative to the red or blue choices in front of me. But in the end, I always throw the longshot away and vote blue.
2016 feels different. I stood with the Feel The Bern movement, but now I’m more than ready to vote for Hillary. The main reason is obvious — we can’t let Trump win. But as I think deeper about my lever pulling, I realize it isn’t surprising. I have deep-rooted convictions that I want to see represented or at least not totally shot down.
Yeah, I’ve read a lot about Jill Stein — and the main thing that concerns me is what I’m not reading. Nothing she’s done instills confidence in me that she’d be effective in the White House and willing to work across the aisle in the House and Senate. Gary Johnson? The whole ‘socially liberal, fiscally conservative’ thing doesn’t work for me either. I like libraries, health care, and a well-funded parks system.
The Democratic platform is far from perfect, but for young people like me, it’s a hell of a lot better than the Republican platform. Here are the ideas that revolutionized my opinion on voting for Democrats:
1. Real change starts at the local level.
The President doesn’t just sit down in the Oval Office and make sweeping changes from day 1. The position sways the direction of Washington over the course of one or two terms, for sure, but for radical and actionable change it’s important for the average citizen to act locally. Trickle down never worked out for us. Trickle up is the way to go, and the Democratic platform is far more open to that concept than the Republican.
2. There is some truth to the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument.
Is voting for a candidate who has no chance of winning a justified decision? Maybe if I have been on the ground pushing that candidate’s ideals at the grassroots level during non-election years, in addition to casting my vote at the ballot box. I haven’t been. Maybe, hopefully, keeping Democrats in office in a 2-party system is only a stall until there is a better option. But for me to feel comfortable voting outside the box I need to see a campaign with the presence, finances, and strategy to win. Bernie Sanders set an astonishingly strong example of how this can be done, despite being on the Democratic ticket.
3. The traveling I’ve done has led me to believe my country needs to proactively and communally interact with nations around the world, not promote an ‘America uber-alles’ mentality.
This year I’ve been in four countries outside the US. In each, I’ve had conversations that led into politics and the number one thing people ask is something along the lines of ‘Is Donald Trump serious?’ followed immediately by ‘Is America actually going to elect him?’ In my personal life, I’ve found that trying to relate to those I encounter and approach them as equal humans has made for much more successful relationships than an ‘I’m better than you, you should try to be like me!’ attitude. Going back to the trickle up concept, wouldn’t I then want a government that isn’t trying to build walls?
4. I think Jill Stein is great — but underqualified.
Say what you will about Hillary, but the woman has the resume of an incoming president. Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady instills in me confidence that she knows how to get things done. Compromise is how democracy works, not flat-out revolution. Look at gay rights — small, actionable change started at local levels, worked up over several years, gained momentum and then big win from the Supreme Court.
I resonate from many angles with what Stein says, but jumping from the Lexington Town Hall straight into the White House seems comparable to jumping from A-level ball into the Big Leagues — with much more at stake.
5. I need my vote to count.
Not just for my own ideals, but for what I believe to be the greater human good. I believe that involves representing an electable party whose platform isn’t held back by a large chunk of their voting base standing firmly against many of the basic ideals that I support: LGBTQ rights, an evolving universal healthcare platform, and a woman’s right to control her own body, just to name a few. These ideas are supported by the Democrats, and I for one am ready to show my support right back. I’d rather make a difference than make a point.