The Agony of Being a First Time Undecided Voter

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The Agony of Being a First Time Undecided Voter

Is there anyone else out there like me?

I’ve never been an undecided voter before. I’ve always known early which candidate I’m supporting and why.

But this election has my head spinning. One minute I’m ready to vote for Hillary Clinton to stop Donald Trump. The next I can’t live with myself if I do that and am willing to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein even though she has very little chance of winning.

And so on back-and-forth, hour-to-hour. The only thing I’m certain of is that I will never EVER vote for Trump.

Is there anyone else out there like me?

This seems to be the new reality.

I’d rather have Hillary as President than Trump, but I’d rather have another option than either one.

It’s agonizing. I can’t sleep. I toss and turn.

I hop into bed thinking I’ll just vote Hillary and then wake up passed midnight feeling disgusted with myself. I say I’ll vote Stein and go back to bed only to wake up an hour later with grave doubts about letting Trump win and how he’ll destroy the fabric of the country.

Those of you who have made up your minds, be thankful. You have a certainty many of us do not share.

Almost half of registered Democrats voted for Bernie Sanders in the Primary. You need us. And now that Hillary Clinton is the nominee, we have to decide – What do we do now?

These seems to be our options:

1) Vote Donald Trump. Let the nation burn. Let him deport 11 million people and build a wall to keep others out. Embolden all our hidden racists, xenophobes, sexists, homophobes and narcissists. Watch the economy take a nosedive just like many of his businesses did into chapter 11. Watch the Russians laugh it up as the US enters a period of isolationism and cedes power to strongmen across the globe.

No. That’s just not acceptable to me.

2) Vote Hillary Clinton. Defeat Trump but champion all of the neoliberal policies you fought against in the primary. Vote for a supporter of the prison industrial complex. Vote for a war hawk. Vote for someone who may do some good but will almost certainly support the TPP, someone who will continue to giveaway our national wealth to big business while doing very little to help the middle class. Watch as our schools are privatized, de-unionized and closed.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow.

3) Vote Jill Stein. Support a candidate who embodies all the progressive values you fought for during the primary. Vote for action against climate change. Vote to forgive all student debt. Vote to destroy corporate education reform. Vote against unnecessary wars of choice. But have very little chance of any of these policies actually being enacted. And increase the chances of a Trump Presidency. After all, she probably won’t even be on the ballot in some states! How can you win if you aren’t an actual choice!?

That’s hard to accept, too.

4) Don’t Vote for President. Vote for progressives on down ticket races but leave the presidential race blank or maybe even write in Bernie’s name. Send a message that you won’t accept the two-party system. But again increase the chances of President Trump and really who is going to be paying attention to this highly symbolic gesture? What will it get you really?

No. Not acceptable.

These seem to be most of the options. I’m certainly not going to vote Libertarian or for one of the other third party candidates.

So which is the best option?

Damned if I know.

I go back and forth between Hill and Jill.

My biggest problem with Dr. Stein is that there just doesn’t seem to be a clear path to victory. No one other than George Washington has ever won a third party bid for President. Even Ralph Nader who got millions of votes ended up not winning a single district or a single electoral vote.

I’m also disturbed by talk among Green Party members, even Stein herself, saying it doesn’t matter if they win. They just want to have a good showing. They just want to increase the power of the Green Party for the next election cycle and show the establishment that they aren’t to be taken lightly.

I’m all for that, but a Trump Presidency is too high a price to pay for it.

If Jill Stein could provide a clear and believable path to victory, I would vote for her in a second. I would campaign. I would do everything I could to help her win. But as it stands this isn’t even a Hail Mary. It’s not like throwing the ball from one end of the field to the other hoping for a touchdown. It’s like throwing the ball from the parking lot, from the highway, from a neighboring state!

However, voting for Clinton is repugnant.

She represents everything I want to change about American politics. She is the establishment, the status quo.

The best argument in her favor is that she’s not Donald Trump. Voting for her lets us survive as a nation for four more years. Things will be bad but manageable.

As a public school teacher, under Clinton I can expect more support for charter schools, more standardized tests, more corporate school reform. But under Trump it will probably be worse. He is the founder of Trump University, after all. He doesn’t just support school privatization. He actually started a privatized school – if you can call it that. And he doesn’t want just charter schools – he wants vouchers.

Pragmatically, I’d rather have Clinton. But morally it feels like a betrayal of all my ideals.

And that doesn’t even take into account how terrible the Democratic National Commission conducted the primary.

The recent leak of private emails from the DNC paints a picture of favoritism. The party unequivocally worked with the media against Sanders. (And, no, it doesn’t matter so much who leaked these emails and why, if they’re authentic.)

Add to that the widespread allegations of voter suppression in the primary match-up between Clinton and Sanders. In districts that leaned Bernie, voters had to face long lines. Voters registrations were mysteriously changed or they were purged from the rolls so they couldn’t vote for him. Bernie rallies were held in over-packed stadiums while Hillary’s were in much smaller venues – yet the results in these areas somehow favored Clinton. Exit polls consistently showed Bernie winning but the actual votes somehow went to Hillary. Meanwhile the media falsely painted the picture of Clinton inevitability even calling the election for her before all the votes were in.

It is hard to prove that all this subterfuge was enough to sway the election against Bernie. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. However, it is naive to think it didn’t help Hillary to some extent. Maybe quite a lot.

And after all that, I’m supposed to vote for her!? How? The party didn’t support my right to vote unless it was for the establishment choice. But now I’m supposed to actively help these same people gain more power!?

Please excuse me if I find that difficult.

So there we are. I just can’t decide. And I would venture to guess there are many more out there just like me.

To those who have decided one way or another, I’d like to offer some advice when dealing with the rest of us:

1) Don’t call us names. I’ve been called delusional, privileged, sexist, stupid, ridiculous, etc. And may I say that it doesn’t help convince any of us to be ridiculed? In fact, it actually turns us further away from your point of view. And it shows you to be somewhat hysterical. The right choice is by no means obvious.

2)Lay off the scare tactics. If you want to convince someone not to vote for Trump, by all means talk about how terrible he would be as President. If you want to convince someone to vote for Hillary, the horror stories won’t cut it. We need more than that. I’m sure Hillary Clinton has positives. Lead with those. Give us good reasons to vote for her and not just against her opponent.

3) If you want us to vote Green, tell us how Stein can win. We don’t want purely symbolic victories. We need to defeat Trump. Don’t regale us with how screwed up the system is. We already know that. Tell us how voting Green will help reverse it.

Have patience with us. Being undecided is not a comfortable position to be in.

We’re all in this together. We all want the same things. It’s just we don’t all agree how to achieve them.

Steven Singer

Steven Singer is a husband, father, teacher, blogger and education advocate. He often writes at his own blog here.

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