On Election Day, 2016, before the polls closed on the East Coast, a friend told me that she was extremely proud of her two daughters; they voted for Gary Johnson. Struck by the pointlessness knowing they are both attending colleges in swing states, I asked her, “Was voting for a third-party candidate the equivalent to throwing their votes away?”
After an onslaught of disparaging remarks about Hilary Clinton, I asked, “How could any woman support Donald Trump; he campaigned with a blatant bigoted, misogynistic message?” My question ignited another barrage of derogatory remarks regarding Hilary Clinton.
The next assault surprised me, not by the tone, but this time I was being reprimanded for suggesting her daughters could support Donald Trump, a revolting and condescending individual, a vengeful, mean-spirited man; ignorant of national and global policies and anything to do with women’s issues. A narcissist who would do nothing but take the country backward, a candidate that had no concern for her daughters and would ultimately strip them of their civil liberties and potentially the ability to make choices about their bodies. Instead, they chose to cast their votes for Gary Johnson as an alternative because they could not bring themselves to vote for Hilary Clinton or Donald J. Trump. Surprised at this point in the conversation, I had not been physically assaulted; I respectfully asked again, “Was voting for a third-party candidate in the United States, a two-party political system, essentially the same as not voting at all?”
My friend “accidentally” threw coffee on me.
While wiping the coffee from my shirt, I offered a response to my leading question.
“I do not think voting for a third-party candidate is the equivalent of not voting at all or throwing their vote away. First, they voted, and it does make a protest statement. Second, there are other candidates in other races and important issues on the ballot.”
While their protest statement may seem like an excellent idea, this probably was not the right election. Granted, we had to choose between an inept, racist bigot and a woman with an email problem, but choosing to vote for a third-party candidate ultimately eliminated their selection of the next United States president.
Now they get to live with the results.