Usually, when an election is over, especially a highly contentious one such as the 2016 presidential election, tensions run high for months or even years later. Nevertheless, I was still quite surprised when a local Democratic elected official recently declared that I was one of the people responsible for the election of Donald Trump.
For the regular readers of this website, many of you already know that I am not nor have I been a supporter of Donald Trump. Ever since he descended that escalator, announced his candidacy for president, and declared that most Mexican immigrants were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” I became a vocal critic. As I wrote back in August of 2015, “Mr. Trump’s rhetoric appeals to some of the worst elements of our society”. I called his comments “reprehensible” and, along with his blatant sexism, said that he “demonstrates that he isn’t presidential material”.
A year later, I didn’t view Mr. Trump anymore favorably and called both the Trump and Clinton campaigns, “A Campaign of Fear and Hatred.” I’m sure it doesn’t come as any surprise, but I didn’t vote for Donald Trump in the Virginia Republican primary nor did I cast a ballot for him in the general election. Yes, I may have declared Marco Rubio was the worst Republican candidate on the Virginia primary ballot, but in that same piece I called Donald Trump “unacceptable”. However, just because Donald Trump was terrible, that didn’t somehow make Hillary Clinton somehow acceptable by comparison.
I would challenge anyone to point out any of my statements where I encourage any voter to cast a ballot for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. And yet, as this elected official claims, anyone who voted for a third party candidate or chose not to vote is at fault for the election of Donald Trump. This viewpoint, in my opinion, is quite sophomoric and harkens back to George W. Bush where a third way was inconceivable to him.
Now, this local official isn’t alone in expressing this idea. For example, about a year ago a Republican leader credited me with electing Terry McAuliffe governor of Virginia because I didn’t support either the Republican or Democratic candidate in that election. As such, because the Democrat won, the only explanation is that it was “my fault” and the fault of everyone who voted Libertarian. Surely it had nothing to do with the weakness of the campaigns and the lack of issues and substance from both of the major party candidates.
It is important for you to remember that you own your vote and no candidate or party has an automatic claim to it. They must earn it and if they fail to speak to you, either figuratively or literally, then you are under no compulsion to support them. And, if one of the major party candidates wins, it is exceedingly foolish to declare that it is the fault of third party voters that your side didn’t win. If one side is looking for someone to blame for their loss, maybe they ought to blame themselves. Perhaps the major party that lost shouldn’t have nominated a candidate who the voters found so detestable. Perhaps they should have run a more competent campaign. And, if voting for your principles means voting for a third party candidate or an independent, that is your right and that should not be demeaned. As Penn Jillette says, (warning for language):
Remember, despite what some Republicans and Democrats might say in order to guilt trip you into supporting someone who you don’t believe in, it is not the fault of a third party voter if the lesser (or greater) of two evils wins. Heck, if we had a level playing field and a multiparty system, like just about every other Western democratic nation, which many Democrats and Republicans have been actively trying to suppress, the only people to blame for electing a bad politician are the people who actually cast a vote for him or her.