“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.”
—Union of Concerned Scientists
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.
Rock and a hard place. I will be voting for Hilary, though I do not think her honorable, just capable. Your essay was so well done. Your arguments right in line. The example of Al Gore, perfect. I voted for him, third party foiled it. I really want to stay home. But as a South Carolinian in the minority I can not. Great job, Meg!
Continuing to have problems with commenting! Anyway, yay, Kay! So relieved you are voting for Hillary. Thanks for your kind comments and close read, my friend.
The US presidential election is the only one I follow apart from the ones that happen in my country (India). It is difficult to not feel alarmed by what is happening.
I shall read your essay once for the content, and again for the way in which you presented your arguments. 🙂
Great essay, Meg! Spot on!! I know a lot of people voting for Johnson and every time I remind myself of Nader and the concept of the “throwaway vote”. I would love to see more than a 2 party race but now is not the time to do it. Not with so much on the line.
I want so much to vote for Stein, but I can’t for this very reason. The system is broken. So broken.
You have lost a follower here, which I find to be very unfortunate, as I love your writing. But I do not take well to being told that my reasoned, thoughtful vote is what is going to usher a dictator into office. Indeed, it is the votes of Trump’s supporters that will usher him in, combined with the foolhardiness of a Democratic party that pushed forth a candidate who was not the best-placed candidate to defeat him.
It is not the responsibility nor the right of citizen voters to chastise or admonish other citizens for their decisions. It is the responsibility, the duty, and the obligation of candidates running for office to earn our votes. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have earned mine, and so I will be voting for neither of them in this election–though I will be voting. Only 9% of Americans selected Trump or Clinton in the primary season, and now they are the two candidates everyone assumes we are stuck with. If the remaining 91% of Americans made a different choice, perhaps we would not be stuck, eh? This is why your argument rings so hollow for me.
Living in Oregon–a solidly blue state–I know that there is no chance my vote for Stein will take votes away from Clinton or give votes to Trump. Instead, I am voting for something and for someone that I actually believe will change our country and improve our democracy. Perhaps I would feel differently living in a swing state–but let me ask you this: If everyone continues to vote out of fear of the “other” candidate, what happens to America? The status quo remains. If everyone votes based on their actual values & beliefs, though, what could we accomplish?
Hey, Ashley, I’ve been thinking about your comment all day. Of course, I’m very sad to lose a reader. I don’t take anyone who reads this blog for granted. It is a privilege for me to have any followers at all. Also, I’m saddened that you feel “admonished,” as that was not my intent. I apologize for this. I’m very sympathetic to your passionate defense of voting for Jill Stein. I also agree that Oregon affords the luxury of being able to vote for her. That’s decidedly not the case in Ohio. Even 1 percent can make a huge difference here. When my husband voted for Ralph Nader, we were a little comforted by the fact that his vote wouldn’t have prevented a Bush victory in Ohio.
I am glad that there are people in this country who want to move us in a more progressive direction. I count myself among them and have been involved in several political movements over the last decade. This is my disagreement with third party voting in the presidential election: it doesn’t work because there is no effort (except maybe in safely progressive communities) to do the work prior to the presidential. Activism has to start at the local level and build up. I kinda resent the fact that the only time I hear from the Green Party is during the presidential election and it largely represents a disruptive effort that benefits Republicans. I’ve never seen anyone from the Green Party in my community, so why should I feel compelled to vote for them at the national level?
Finally, a Donald Trump presidency would be a huge step backward in any kind of progressive steps forward we’ve made. Civil rights, health care, women’s rights, nuclear disarmament, immigration, escalation of tensions in the Middle East, a very murky relationship with Putin, roll backs in banking reforms, reduction of taxes for the wealthiest = very real consequences of a Trump presidency. That is why I am voting out of “fear.” Conversely, I have far fewer concerns about Hillary Clinton. I think she has been the subject of a witch hunt for decades and little actual “wrongdoing” has been discovered. Guilty of using a personal email server? Yes. Giving favors to donors to the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit that has done tremendous good in the world? I see very little evidence of this. Benghazi? I don’t even know what the fuck this has been about, despite reading up on it. I find it hard to believe that any Secretary of State actually wanted her staff murdered. So, Clinton is not a tough pill for me to swallow. She’ll protect a women’s right to choose, fight to keep the little healthcare we’ve managed to squeeze out of Republicans, increase taxes (if she can get it through Congress) on the top 1%, etc.
I do understand your frustration and anger. And I understand that expressing my opinion can lead to alienating readers, as unfortunate as that is. But I do want to say that we agree on more than we disagree. I would love nothing more than to see a slate of candidates who can make us all proud. I voted for Bernie.
Thanks for commenting and reading. I’ll miss your visits to Pigspittle.
A strong persuasive essay, full of information and opinion. Very nice flow from beginning to end. If I may speak to the content, I really wish people interested in instituting a third party would focus on change from the bottom of the political system and work their way up. Waiting until each presidential election to push change doesn’t do anything.
Yep, that’s my point of view. Thanks for the read and comment, Amy.
A very powerful, well written argument. It would be great if a 3rd or 4th party candidate could be a viable one, but that isn’t happening in this election. Living in a swing state (please, please, please let Georgia turn purple) your message is even more important.
Yes, rooting for Georgia! Thanks, Ellen.
I admit, I tend to lean more towards the conservative side of the proverbial aisle in most respects. That being said, I have no intention of voting for that man, and your argument is a solid reason why. I’m not terribly keen on Clinton, so to be honest I’m not sure what I’ll do. Probably agonize over it all the way to the voting booth. But if it helps, I’m not going for You Know Who. 🙂
I agree with you on all counts. Thank you die writing a cogent argument I can direct people to.
Should be “for writing” etc. I hit something on my phone that changed it.