Culture / Reflections

Reflections on the Impending U.S. Election 2016

20161107_172750My mail-in ballot is sitting right in front of me, and I’ve decided not to vote. It’s been an interesting experience to be an American living just above the border in Canada, watching from a slight distance the debacle (that’s the best word I can think of) that is the U.S. Presidential election. People here often ask if I’m voting and who I’m voting for, and my usual answer has been “Big Bird.” Honestly, that’s my answer. Sometimes, I feel Barney (not to be confused with Bernie) might do a better job than any of the listed candidates.

My philosophy of voting is based on principle, not about how my vote affects the outcome of the election. In other words, it matters little to me of the effect of the vote, as much as the fact that my vote is a vote for that candidate to be the next President of the United States. That’s why it befuddles me when a prominent Christian pastor, whom I (used to) respect, recently said that a check-mark next to Trump’s name is not a vote for him, but a vote against Clinton. How is a vote for someone not a vote for that person?? That statement is not simply a paradox; it’s a contradiction. It’s like saying, “Well, I’m voting for Nero because Caligula is just plain worse. But I’m not actually voting for Nero.” Actually, you are.

That’s why my ballot has been sitting on my desk for the past two weeks, unmarked. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for either major candidate, nor “vote against” either candidate by placing a vote for the other. Trump, by his speech and actions, is a psychopath. He is a legitimate psychopath (or sociopath if you like). He is all about building his own kingdom, without any genuine interest in the well-being of anyone else. He is clearly racist, misogynistic, vile, dirty, and manipulative. I’m absolutely shocked that evangelicals see him as on their side. As a Christian, I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone who says they love and follow Christ could vote for a person like Trump, a person who is in his very essence the antithesis of who Christ is.

On the other hand, Clinton is just as bad, if not worse, but in different ways. She is an “unconvicted” criminal. The fact that other government officials have done similar things doesn’t make it justifiable–it just scares me even more that we have, as our country’s representatives, people like that in authority. She has done and said things in the past and even recently that is just evil. It’s pretty well-known around Arkansas (the Clintons’ home state) of stories that resemble things you see in mafia-type movies. Great that she represents a visible minority group, but what does that have to do her ability as a nation’s leader? Can I really cast a vote for someone who has committed major federal crimes and is unapologetic about it?

I hear you, America, we have to choose the lesser of two evils. Again I go back to the Nero vs Caligula analogy. I cannot vote for either because they are both absolutely horrible. Both were disgusting. But, you say, not voting is not caring. False. (Cue Dwight Schrute.) In this present case, not voting is a stance as well. It’s a stance saying I do not endorse either candidate (and don’t agree enough with the other inconsequential candidates), and I hate that these two are my only options. I refuse to participate and engage in a clown-show, circus, and reality-TV show that America has become. I hate that many (supposedly smart people) are deceived by either candidate into thinking one is actually better than the other. I hate that I’m even considering leaving my home country permanently because of the chaos that may ensue after Tuesday night. I hate that Americans just buy into whatever is being shoved in their faces without much critical thought. And if the whole country realized that both were the worst of candidates we have seen in a long time, and if a significant majority of the population didn’t vote, that would send a message across the nation. It’s just sad that we think we have to vote, as if we were being bullied to vote…

But going back to the analogy of the Roman Empire with Nero and Caligula (at different times of course), as much as this election is significant (as every election is), we also know that if history repeats itself, life goes on and all is good in the Empire. Wait… I think I’m recounting wrongly…

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