When Americans cast their vote for president on November 8th, they will be deciding between two and only two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. While many voters, particularly millennials, are justifiably angry and frustrated with a political system that divides Americans in a way not seen since the Civil War, there is no room for a protest vote or for staying home — not this time.
If you are not convinced that a protest vote can have severe unintended consequences, we need look no further than 2000 when Al Gore lost Florida by 537 votes, throwing the election to George W. Bush, who started the Iraq War under false pretenses, ballooned the deficit, and drove our economy over a cliff. The protest candidate that year was Ralph Nader, whose 97,488 Florida votes were directly responsible for the Bush victory.
We face a choice between two candidates with very different visions for America. Trump proposes mass deportation, building a wall to stop Mexican “rapists,” and banning Muslims from entering our country. He believes that climate change is a Chinese hoax and that massive tax cuts for the rich will somehow trickle down to the middle class without ballooning our deficit. He admires Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin and encourages Russia to conduct Internet espionage on Trump’s political opponents.
Trump’s birther movement has falsely challenged the legitimacy of our first black president. He promotes violence at his rallies to the point of encouraging “Second Amendment people” to take matters into their own hands should he lose the election. He would pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and start a war with Iran when they make “gestures” at our sailors. He would walk away from the Paris climate agreement signed by over 100 countries and appoint conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe vs. Wade while limiting a woman’s health care options.
Alternatively, Hillary Clinton would carry forward the President Obama agenda that has focused on addressing climate change, expanded healthcare coverage, largely ended two wars, cut our deficit in half, and produced a record 78 consecutive months of job growth. Clinton would also push forward an agenda of debt-free tuition for students whose families make under $125,000/year, a $15/hour minimum wage, gun safety initiatives, and increased taxes on the wealthy to pay for a needed infrastructure jobs program. She has more experience than any previous presidential candidate having served as first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state.
When we go to the polls on November 8th, we should heed the advice of Senator Bernie Sanders, whose extraordinary campaign brought millions of millennials into the election process.
“I’m the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress. I know more about third-party politics than anyone else in the Congress, okay? And if people want to run as third-party candidates, God bless them! Run for Congress. Run for governor. Run for state legislature. When we’re talking about president of the United States, in my own personal view, this is not time for a protest vote. This is time to elect Hillary Clinton.”
Sen. Sanders has it right.