It’s November 9, 2016. The day after Election Day. And the world (or America, at least) is most definitely on fire. Quite literally, when you look at the colors on this map.
Last week at work a coworker of mine walked past me and proclaimed: “The world is on fire.” As random as it was, this isn’t really out of character for him especially with Election Day right around the corner. He’s kind of known for having very outspoken, controversial opinions when it comes to politics and the government. Anyway, the only response I could think of came naturally: “It will be come next Tuesday.”
I’m not really one to get into politics much but this election felt different. I was a die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter in the beginning, as most of my millennial counterparts were, and was extremely lost when he didn’t win the Democratic nomination. I’ve never really been a fan of Hillary Clinton, the Donald Trump option still felt like a joke at this point, and Bernie Sanders just seemed to represent everything I wanted in a leader.
As Election Day started to get closer, the polls were showing Trump in an increasing lead despite the “locker room talk” scandal where he was caught claiming that he could just “grab women by the pussy” and it would be okay because he’s a celebrity.
**Before I go any further I want to make it VERY clear that I NEVER had ANY plans to vote for Donald Trump. Some of the things I’m going to say have the potential to make me sound like a Trump supporter but in reality I’d rather be catapulted off the face of the Earth than cast a vote in favor of that man.**
I didn’t fill out my ballot until November 7th. That was how long it took me to make a decision on who I’d be voting for. I can’t tell you how many articles I read, how much research I did, and how many debates I had with Hillary Clinton supporters, desperately searching for the right answer. There was a point in time where I actually considered voting for Clinton because I was afraid that Trump would win if I didn’t. Long story short–I just couldn’t find it within myself to vote for Clinton. I knew I was going to vote but I knew it wouldn’t be for either one of them.
I’m a strong believer in logical thinking. I am a Virgo after all. I understand the logic behind settling on Clinton in order to stop Trump from getting into the White House. I understand why Democrats were so strongly against third party voters because of how close the race was. I understand why so many people believed that a third party vote was a waste of a vote in a very dire circumstance. I understand all of that. But I also believe in gut feelings and not letting fear dictate our lives. This election was a prime example of how the system continues to fail us. The two most hated people in the whole race were our primary choices for President of the United States. The corruption has to stop. And the only way to do it is to change how we vote.
I’m proud to say I voted for Jill Stein. Out of all the candidates, I felt like her beliefs aligned with mine the most. And two days later from the time I dropped my ballot in the box, after the results of the election have already been confirmed, I don’t regret it. I voted with my heart for the person I felt would do the best job. That wasn’t Hillary Clinton. And it definitely wasn’t Donald Trump. In all honesty I knew Jill Stein wouldn’t win. She wasn’t even on the ballot in some states. But I feel good about my vote knowing that I stood up for change and what I believe in.
It wasn’t until last night in the midst of the election that I began to feel uneasy about my vote. I was following the results all night at work and on TV and social media once I got home. Trump was ahead the entire time and my nerves set in. Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I should have voted for Hillary. Maybe I should’ve listened to everyone telling me not to vote third party. This was only my second chance to vote in the presidential election but it was my first experience on the receiving end of voter shaming. Trump was about to win Pennsylvania which would put him within six votes of winning the electoral vote and I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone when I saw a screenshot of a tweet that someone had shared.
And as I was scrolling through this person’s Twitter page I found a plethora of others, all saying essentially the same thing:
So as a third party voter, I’m now placed in the same category as someone who’s not allowed to speak because they didn’t vote at all and, even worse, a person who voted for Trump? It’s wrong. On so many levels.
The original tweet I saw on Facebook really upset me. I’m not one to feel personally attacked by a Facebook post nor do I ever really get fired up enough to respond, but the person who shared it is someone I like and respect and I had just shared the fact that I voted third party a few hours prior.
First of all, I don’t know if Washington state has a history of ever going red in the election. The entire west coast is pretty much known for being extremely liberal. Our presidential voting system in this country goes by the Electoral College. The winner doesn’t necessarily have the most popular votes, but instead is the first one to get 270 electoral votes. I knew that all 12 of Washington’s electoral votes would go to Hillary Clinton so in reality, did it really matter if I voted for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or even Donald Trump for that matter? No. Why? Because Hillary Clinton won Washington 56% to 38%. If I lived in Florida or Pennsylvania or Michigan, maybe I would have reconsidered my vote for a third party.
But let’s think about this for a second. Gary Johnson is a Libertarian. His ideals lean more right than they do left. Do you really believe that those 200,000 votes that went to Johnson in Florida would have gone to Clinton had third party voters changed their minds last minute? Probably not. The reality is that those people most likely would have voted for the Republican candidate if it was anyone but Trump.
I want to end this by suggesting that those who believe third party voters are the reason Trump won the election point fingers at the 59 million people who actually voted for him instead of blaming and bullying those who refused to.