Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Your Vote is Your Voice.

I want to open with something that I said on Facebook over 2 months ago:

I'm not huge on politics or posting about political stuff. Yeah, I post the occasional thing here or there, but mostly I prefer my world of puppies and rainbows. However, I feel like this is important to get out there. Important enough that I'm posting about it. So, you know, pretty damn important (at least to me).
Seems legit.

Before deciding that you "have to" vote for Trump or Clinton in this election - simply because you believe he or she is the lesser of two evils or that you have no other option - PLEASE remember that there are more than two parties out there and, as such, more than two options. A vote for a third party candidate is NOT a wasted vote - it is your chance to speak out!

If you truly want to vote for Donald or Hilary and you truly support him or her as a candidate then please cast your vote accordingly. I would never ask you to NOT vote for someone you believe in! But if you find yourself wishing for a third option, please watch this video and please consider voting for Johnson this fall.

The statement above is absolutely how I feel. If you are truly supportive of a candidate, I believe you should vote for him or her. Your vote is your voice. It's your way of saying, "Yes, I think this is the person who best represents me and my beliefs and who I think will best run this country. I believe in this person and the things for which they stand."
OK, maybe not THIS embarrassed...

Yesterday I wrote about the plethora of presidential candidates in the upcoming election. Prior to researching and writing that post, I really only considered there to be - at most - four candidates: Clinton, Trump, Johnson, and Stein. I already knew about the handful of others on Wisconsin's ballot, but I hadn't been thinking about them (nor the other myriad individuals who will appear on other states' ballots) as "real" candidates. And I have to admit that I'm more than a little embarrassed by that. 

In the past, I've written about not voting for one reason or another. I certainly received some criticism about my choices, but eventually, all was forgotten (if not forgiven). This time, things are (obviously) a bit different. I've been paying attention, having discussions, and doing my own research to make sure that I am an informed voter. I am proudly backing a third party candidate for the first time in my life, and I truly feel that he is the right choice for me.

Yet I have received more criticism for my choice of candidate than I ever did for not voting. When trying to advocate for Gary Johnson (because far too many people don't know who he is, or that there are more than two choices), I've been met with less than favorable responses. I have been told I am wasting my vote. I have been told that "a vote for Johnson is a vote for Hillary/Donald" as well as "voting for Johnson is taking away votes from Hillary/Donald." I have heard my candidate mocked for honest mistakes while other candidates are hailed simply for not being the opposition. And in trying to keep a positive attitude and open dialogue about this election, I have been let down again and again.

It's like you're not even listening!
When speaking about voting for Gary Johnson, no one has said to me, "Oh, that's cool!" Hell, no one has even said, "Well, it's your vote!" I haven't really been asked why I'm voting for Johnson or what I believe in politically that makes him the candidate for me. Most people don't say anything at all. Those who do almost never have anything positive to contribute. I have never been excited (or informed) about a presidential candidate before, and now that I'm finally able to join the conversation, no one wants to hear what I have to say. It's disheartening, to say the least.

Third party candidates are getting a raw deal, and so are their supporters. How do you know you don't agree with someone's policies if you aren't willing to listen to them in the first place? The issues we deal with are really complex. If you're just taking an individual's yes or no stance at face value, you aren't getting the full story. Why did they answer in that way? What reasoning do they have (or not have) for it? Do they have something to back up their response? How do they plan to handle the issue despite their response? That's a lot of questions left unanswered if you simply go, "Nope, I don't agree with that one-word answer. Not getting my vote. Done."

If you are set on voting for Clinton or Trump and you really feel that she or he is the right person to lead this country, then go for it! Like I said, I would never discourage you from voting for the person you most believe in. If you're planning to vote for Donald or Hillary but don't feel all that strongly about him or her, get out there and see what other options you have.  I'm not saying that learning about a third party candidate is 100% going to lead to you voting for one. What I am suggesting is that there is a lot to be gained by looking into the other options that may be available to you. You can learn a lot about what others around you are looking for, or about their beliefs and priorities. You might come to appreciate that even if you don't agree with everything he/she says, you actually can find some common ground. And knowing what else is out there might even strengthen your resolve to vote for your candidate, making you even more confident in your decision. None of this is bad!

And to those who are planning to vote for a third party candidate, for someone who has been ignored by the media and is relatively (or completely) unknown by the general public, I am truly sorry if anyone has made you feel like your choice is wrong or bad. If you believe in your candidate, you should absolutely vote for her/him. It doesn't matter if you shout it from the rooftop or quietly cast your vote in anonymity. Your vote is your voice! Make sure you get heard.
You get a vote! You get a vote! Everyone gets a vote!

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