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Monday, October 10, 2016

I Don’t Want to Talk About Politics

And yet, here I go.

I really don’t want to talk about politics here, on this blog that is supposed to be devoted to topics like theology and philosophy, sacraments and spiritual disciplines, the ways in which the liturgical calendar and readings are impacting my life, and practical ministry issues. 

I really don’t want to talk about politics, this year, because the entire election cycle has felt more like a bad reality TV show than a serious push for leadership.  I have been critical of everyone involved, it has cost me friends, and I’m not sure it was worth it, because it’s not like I have the solution.

But there are a couple of things I want to say.

I’d like to begin by admitting that I have an eclectic voting record.  I’m pretty sure I came by this honestly.  I will never forget the 1992 election when several of my “toe-the-party-line” Republican family members went to the polls and voted for Ross Perot.  I was thirteen years old.  In the years that followed, I often heard them talk about how they had wasted their votes and would never again vote for a third party.  Over the course of this election season, I have heard many people claim, once again, that a vote for a third party is a “wasted” vote.  I would venture to say that it is not.

I feel rather strongly about voting.  I cannot imagine choosing not to cast a vote, because it is a privilege for which countless people around the globe would give their lives.  But I do, indeed, understand the dilemma of many Americans in the current context.

It’s not much of a secret that I was going to cast my vote for Bernie.  Cue gasps from my Republican family.  It’s not that I’m a socialist (and… well… neither is he), but I do think there is much value in sharing what we have for the greater good of… everyone.  I know a lot of people who use the line, “vote your conscience.”  I think it’s a good line, although I surely don’t mean the same things as the majority of people who use it.  Voting my conscience means choosing the candidate who will do the most redemptive work for the greatest number of people.  From my perspective, Bernie was that guy.

I don’t claim to know everything about the nomination process or super delegates or much of anything related to the internal workings of politics, but I feel as if the Democratic Party made a poor choice.  I’m as much a feminist as anybody else (OK, more…  I’m more…).  I would love to see a woman as President of the United States, but I was never going to vote for Hillary.  I have no inclination to produce a laundry list of reasons.  She’s just not for me.

But if the Democrat’s choice was abysmal, the Republicans broke the glass floor.  As much as I feel that I do not need to disclose every reason I am not voting for Hillary; I do not feel the need to even engage in conversation about why I was never, will never, and am not voting for Trump.  His words of discrimination and hate have spoken loudly and clearly on their own.  As a side note, the latest allegations in connection with the lewd comments made about women were not, in any way, a deciding factor for me.  I was not surprised.  Those are exactly the kinds of things I have come to expect from Donald Trump.  This is not to say the words didn’t make me sick.  They did.  This is not to say that I wasn’t horrified as my fourteen year old daughter reacted, in shock and anger, to the words.  I was.  It was enough to make me want to vomit.  But it didn’t seal the deal for me.  Trump has been talking like this for a very long time.  I already knew he had little respect for other human beings.  I was never going to vote for Trump.

But where does this leave me?  Honestly, it leaves me in the exact same place as so many other American voters, and I have decided that a third party vote, for me, is not a waste, at all.  As an American citizen, I have a right to vote.  As an American citizen, no one can tell me that I must vote for one of two parties.  This is not a binary choice.  If you think about it, that’s kind of the point.

If I’m honest, I’m still not 100% sold on any one candidate.  I don’t know that I can make a solid “endorsement,” but after as much research as I have time to conduct, I have made a decision.  This November, for the first time, my vote will go to the Green Party, and as I walk away from the polling place, I don’t want a single person to imply that my vote has been wasted.  I think the chances that Jill Stein will be the next President are slim, but at least I’ll be able to live with myself and sleep at night.


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