The reason I’m voting for Hillary Clinton isn’t because she’s the “lesser of two evils.” It’s not because I think she’s going to change the system, fix what’s broken or help push through many policies that align with my personal values. As someone who aligns more directly with the Green Party, Clinton is far from the area of the political spectrum where I land.
But there are two reasons I’m voting for her. First, she’s not Donald Trump. Second, the votes we cast in national-level elections aren’t the votes that bring about real change.
In an effort to understand how otherwise apparently reasonable people could consider Donald Trump as a serious candidate, I found several online friends who think they will vote for him. I asked them to explain themselves. The fact that they are my friends and are still my friends is a topic for another column. Today I’ll simply note that they believe Trump is overtly awful and Clinton is awful in secret. They believe the Senate and House will keep Trump in check if he is elected but Clinton will be sneakier and get her way more often, so they’re probably going with Trump.
My Trump-supporting friends are wrong, of course. Trump and Clinton are not equally awful. To most people I know, this is a no-brainer. To the people who are actually considering a vote for Trump, I’m sure what I say won’t matter to you. But to my fellow liberals — and I mean those of us who can’t stomach the entrenched capitalist oligarchical political system claiming to be a republic of, by and for the people — in this election we must vote for not Trump, and that means for Hillary Clinton.
True, the mainstream media and Wall Street and beltway power brokers say that in every election: “Don’t vote for the third party this time. It’s too dangerous!” Using fear to keep us from being radical is exactly why the system has grown more and more corrupt. Some of us must be courageous and break with the mainstream. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that voting for a third party in the presidential election is not going to change the system we have now. Changing the system needs to start at the local level.
We need to consider alternative voting methods to start breaking the chokehold money has on elections. In November in Maine, we can be a part of the process of real change; there is actually a referendum on the ballot to change our voting system to a ranked-choice system. This means ballots would be counted in multiple rounds in which last-place candidates would be eliminated until a candidate wins by an actual majority. Adding more ranked-choice voting or other types of alternative voting methods at the local and state levels can start the movement of change on a grass-roots level.
But back to the “lesser of two evils” idea.
The fact is, the system may be evil but Hillary Clinton isn’t. Her roots are decent and authentic. I’m biased, for sure, because she attended Wellesley College when my father was chaplain there. In the speech she delivered at her commencement, the first given by a student, she mentions my dad when she mentions integrity. So, yes, that makes me a little bit more open to her as a human being. I see her as someone with a good heart, as my dad writes about, who is dealing with a system that doesn’t work.
She isn’t a candidate whose values align well with mine. She’s no radical, but she’s worlds above Trump. Putting the two of them together in a sentence as though they are even close to comparable seems absurd. It’s like apples and ulcers.
So, again, to my fellow liberals: Maybe you were a Bernie supporter or you’ve been fighting for Jill Stein. Maybe you felt the energy of hope as we all watched the insanity of the primary season’s roller coaster. But, here we are. It’s Clinton or Trump.
I certainly haven’t felt passionate about Clinton, but I will most definitely vote for her. I’m not telling you how to vote. I’m pleading with you to consider Clinton. Surely you already know she’s not as bad as Trump. But, yes, in this case, perhaps I’m asking you to let fear keep you from voting for a third party.
We must not let Trump win.
Heather Denkmire is a writer and artist who lives in Portland with her two young daughters. After a few challenging years, she is growing her small business, where her team helps nonprofit organizations win grants. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her columns appear monthly.