Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment, but this primary season has been so utterly bizarre that I feel some responsibility to opine on it, even if just for my own future reference.
Here’s some thoughts, in no particular order, in bullet point form. Since I’m sure you already know my thoughts about the candidates themselves, these are some more general thoughts about things that have been bothering me this primary season.
- Progressives and liberals are continually coming off as more closed-minded to me than many conservatives. Case in point: When Hillary chose Tim Kaine as her running mate, the first reaction I saw from many people was that “he’s pro-life”. Yet every indication is that, despite his personal beliefs, he’s been a champion for a woman’s right to choose and for safe abortion practices in his state. He seems to be an excellent case of not letting personal opinions get in the way of policy, and this is something to be widely lauded, not condemned. Why the hell are people so threatened by people that disagree with them?
(This keeps coming up, but this also bothered me a lot about Brendan Eich. Who cares what his opinions and finances are as long as he acts appropriately in his capacity as CEO?)
- For that matter, why is Hillary’s (and Obama’s) changing stances a problem? Do you really want a politician who holds steadfastly to their policies even as times change around them? I totally understand the argument “but she’s saying stuff just to get elected”, but then I see this come up again on how she’s shifted her stance on things like same-sex marriage. People are allowed to change their opinions based on compelling arguments and facts — if anything, this is also something that should be encouraged and lauded, not condemned.
- Jill Stein has been really pissing me off this primary season, and making me regret having voted for her in the past. I’m all for her doing everything she can to push her party and garner votes, but a lot of what she’s been saying lately has been so utterly ridiculous and irresponsible to me that I have a hard time believing she’s not only a presidential candidate, but actually a candidate that a lot of my friends (that I would normally consider very reasonable people) are somewhat gravitating to.
- Bernie Sanders is an Independent, guys. He’s not really a Democrat, even though he often voted with (and caucused with) the Democrats. So can you really blame the DNC for being super cautious (and concerned) with his candidacy, especially given what was happening in the Republican camp at the time with Trump? I totally understand the ire and disdain being sent toward the leadership and the bias in the process… but I still think they were in the right with this. If I was a Democrat, particularly one charged with managing the party and nomination process, I would absolutely be terrified and threatened of what Bernie was doing. It’s bizarre to me that so many people can’t see and understand this. They’re acting like the DNC overruled the voice of the people or something. (Because yeah, first it was “Bernie has more votes without superdelegates” and then “Bernie can still win if he gets most superdelegates on board”. He got fewer votes, guys.)
- As above, I actually think the superdelegates are an extremely good mechanism and I’m sad to see changes to force their votes to be more in line with the popular vote. In a discussion back in March, way before any of this stuff had really hit the fan, I remember everyone basically agreeing that the superdelegates would never overrule the will of the people — to do so would give the impression that Hillary had been coronated and risk throwing unnecessary controversy on the results. (Yeah… that happened anyway. I blame Bernie’s supporters here.) In the end, I think the role of superdelegates is (and should be) to prevent someone like Trump from winning the nomination — someone so absolutely out of touch with the party and politics that he is not only unlikable, but actually threatening both to the party and the country as a whole. I’m sure the Republicans would have loved an equivalent on their end so they could have nominated Kasich (or even Cruz) instead.
- I actually like Bernie and what he stands for and many of his views. (And I voted for him in the PA primary.) But I think his supporters are so blinded that they refuse to acknowledge any potential fault with his candidacy — mostly his idealism that would prevent most of his agenda from actually being enacted in office, and the fact that his policies would be a *huge* turnoff to older voters. The latter part probably proved moot anyway (now that he would be up against Trump), but it was a huge concern I had when debating my primary vote. Look at the Obama of 2008 and where he is now — he’s managed to get stuff done because he’s softened his stances and worked within the system. Bernie (particularly in defeat) showed me that he’s incapable of doing this.
- I actually understand a lot of Trump’s appeal, and why people are willing to overlook the parts of him that many people consider to be deal breakers. It bothers me when people automatically label Trump supporters as ignorant or racist or malicious. Just like millions in 2008 felt like Obama was a voice of hope and reason in the screwed up political process, so people feel about Trump now. (But probably even more so given his lack of political experience and no-nonsense attitude.) I wish everyone would try more to find common ground and have legitimate discussions instead of demonizing.
- I also understand people that say they can’t vote for Hillary. Different people have different deal breakers in politicians. Hillary is certainly a flawed candidate. It bothers me when people outright demonize everyone looking to vote third party. That said…
- I don’t understand people saying they’ll vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (or Trump) solely “because Bernie was robbed” (which is a ridiculous assertion in the first place). If you liked Bernie as a candidate for his policies and views… there’s actually remarkably little difference between his and Hillary’s. (Especially now that the two have agreed on a party platform.) The fact that you’re willing to sabotage the progress that you were working so hard for only months before seems extremely petty, irresponsible, and malicious. Vote third party because you agree with their policies, or because Bernie’s appeal was his “outsider” nature (as much as someone who’s been in national politics since at least the 80s can be). Don’t vote third party just because you hate Hillary as a candidate or feel slighted by her, the process, or the DNC.
- As much as I dislike Ted Cruz’s policies (and disagree that Kasich is a “moderate”), I really respect their reactions to the Trump nomination. They have more of a backbone than a lot of people in the party, at least.
I keep saying that, if I had been born a few decades earlier, I would probably be a Republican. When Republicans govern responsibly (and if you ignore the crap about trickle down economics), they can actually be a reasonable party pushing for personal responsibility, smaller government, and states’ rights. I’m really rather disappointed that the party has been so utterly horrific the entire time I’ve been able to vote.
I haven’t taken any of those “which candidate do you agree with” tests this year since I think it’s important enough to vote Democratic (especially in what’s looking like a particularly important swing state), but I feel like I’ve always agreed more with either the Libertarian or Green parties than the Democrats or Republicans.
It would be nice to live in a country where you could always vote your first preference and see them have a real shot at winning… but being realistic here, there’s really only two candidates for president, and while your vote is your vote, I would really like everyone to seriously consider what would happen if Trump (as opposed to Hillary) won, and how a third-party vote would contribute to such.
Also here’s some links of things I found good to read. I may edit this list and add more links to it later.
- Trump’s appeal
- Jill Stein on Hillary
- Dan Savage on third party candidates
- Bernie supporters on Hillary
- This election is about more than just us, because we live in a global, connected world
- Hillary is inherently trustworthy
- Worst-case scenario with Brexit and Trump
Yay for wall of text. :X