“There are still around 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planet—most of them much more destructive than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than 70 years ago. And around 1,800 U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons are still on hair-trigger alert—ready to launch in a matter of minutes. This policy increases the risk of an accidental nuclear missile launch or a deliberate launch in response to a false warning, which would have catastrophic results.”
I’ve called out this quote for anyone who is thinking about voting third-party or contemplating staying at home. A vote for a third-party candidate or not voting at all is essentially a vote for Donald Trump, the man who would be the first president in U.S. history with zero experience in government or the military. Maybe you think that’s a good thing. What could go wrong? Or, as Trump himself likes to say, what do you have to lose?
Allan Sloan, a Washington Post columnist who has covered Trump’s business dealings for more than 25 years, documented just a few examples of the candidate’s impulsiveness—including purchasing the Taj Mahal casino, with “$675 million of junk bonds that carried a 14 percent interest rate,” [italics mine] which predictably cannibalized two of his other casinos and was never able to turn enough profit to pay off its interest. Impulsiveness can be a great quality for someone whose job it is to take risks, if that person has keen intuition. Not so great for someone who carries around a briefcase with the codes for launching nuclear weapons.
In fact, that’s downright terrifying.
Given that the U.S. President may have no more than five minutes to decide whether to launch a weapon, I’m not inclined to hand my future over to Donald Trump – a man who can’t resist an insult. Imagine that our military systems pick up a signal that China launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. President Trump has five minutes to decide to counterattack, which would set off a war. What do you think Trump will do? Will he think deeply? Who will he listen to? Does he even know what an ICBM is, this man who won’t even prepare for a debate?
Such a scenario has happened before, by accident. As shown on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ roulette wheel of near accidents (take a spin—it’s kinda terrifying), “Shortly after midnight on September 26, 1983, a Soviet early warning satellite indicated first one, then two, then eventually five US nuclear missiles had been launched at the Soviet Union.” The officer on duty went on a hunch, without any real data, that he was receiving incorrect information and made the difficult decision not to respond. His hunch was right and averted nuclear war.
Donald Trump lacks discipline, self-control, attention to detail and the ability to listen—those critical qualities required to make reasoned judgement. His inability to exercise restraint in buying real estate may only hurt the employees and contractors who end up losing their paychecks when a casino or hotel goes belly up. The consequences of Trump’s impulsiveness as commander-in-chief are exponentially more costly, in blood and treasure.
Those of us who remember the 2000 election rue the decision of friends and family who voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader instead of the Democratic nominee, Vice President Al Gore. Imagine how different the world would be today had we not elected GW Bush and invaded Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein, a dictator, would still be in power, but it is unlikely that we would have seen the rise of ISIS, a deadly cancer that has metastasized in vulnerable villages, towns and cities from Iraq to Yemen to Syria.
Maybe George Bush would have won even if Ralph Nader wasn’t a spoiler, but I doubt it. And Nader’s supporters did nothing to move the needle toward a more progressive Congress.
In this election, voting for anyone other than Hillary is a vote for Trump. Staying home or voting third-party to advance progressive ideals won’t influence Trump one iota.
If you don’t think Trump can win and your protest vote will influence Hillary, think again. Drive around rural Ohio. Read the state polls. Don’t deceive yourself.
So, it’s three minutes until midnight, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists‘ doomsday clock. Let’s move the little hand back. Your vote is precious. Buy yourself more time.