In Defense of the “Protest Vote”

It would be difficult to encounter anyone of voting age here in the United States who is not familiar with the Democratic and Republican nominees for President in this upcoming November election. One might even believe that they are the ONLY candidates available to vote for. It is relatively easy to see how this happens considering the way in which information is disseminated from our commercial mainstream sources. In fact it almost seems as if the powerful interests behind the media industry, and again I am referring to mainstream media, would much prefer if we all looked exclusively at those two candidates and not even consider the notion of an election that involved anyone else besides them. But it is not that easy however…at least not this year.

With the growing influence of social media it is becoming more difficult to hide certain facts. One of those facts being that there happens to be FOUR, not TWO, but FOUR eligible candidates who will be featured on the ballot in the majority states next month. They are Clinton, Trump, Johnson, and Stein; that’s not to mention the handful of other candidates that unfortunately did not meet the ballot requirements in a significant number of states for legitimate consideration.

I personally have decided to cast my my vote for Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, representing the Green Party. As a honest disclaimer this was a recent decision because during the primaries I supported Mr. Sanders. However, when he had officially lost the nomination and chose not just to gracefully concede but to come out in full support of Mrs. Clinton I realized I had made a mistake.

It was shortly after this that I began to catch wind of the campaign of Dr. Stein. I learned that despite her willingness to allow Mr. Sanders to lead the Green Party ticket in place of her, he declined opting instead to continue in the charade of modern day politics. This I found troubling because during the primaries he posited himself as the antithesis of Mrs. Clinton and her political agendas throughout her lengthy career in public office. He passed even though Mrs. Stein’s platform most closely resembled his, and that was without any pressure to move “more to the left”, which was constantly being said of Clinton during the primaries. I do not say anything of this to condemn Mr. Sanders because I still believe he ran an admirable race and one that brought certain issues to the forefront for discussion. For that, I thank him. I just believe there was huge opportunity to maintain that momentum that empowered so many young people.

Once I began to shift my attention to Stein, I thought it only responsible to research her position on the issues that matter most to me. What I found was a dedication in all areas of her proposed agenda to put human rights and peace at its core, and NO concessions to the status quo. Her platform suggests nothing short of a revolution. That is when I came to the conclusion that if she had the fortitude to stand courageously for what she advocated than I can also. I listened to her again and again through various outlets and her messaged stayed the same. I even tried to find information from her past to make sure she was the real deal. To my surprise I could not find one blemish. Not one statement or act that was in contrast to her declared stance. I did however find that she ran for president once before in 2012. After not getting an invite to the all important debates (deja vu), she staged an act of civil disobedience with her then running mate Cheri Honkala. The two were arrested at the scene and taken to an undisclosed location and detained until well after the debates finished. To say that seems a bit unorthodox would be a gross understatement. You can see the incident below.

Despite all of this, the major news outlets continue to publish story after story equating a vote for anyone besides Clinton as a de facto vote for Trump. They say it’s just not smart to take a chance on Trump winning and that if you really care about our democracy and our country then you cannot waste your vote on any other candidates besides Mrs. Clinton. Then of course there is my favorite, when they say that this is not the year for a protest vote.

It confounds me that we, including myself until recently, have allowed ourselves to be coerced into this type of binary thinking and decision making. We as a people deserve more from our election process and we deserve more from our elected officials. We deserve the right to have all of our available options presented to us, especially now, for us to make the choice. Not for the institutions of power and influence to decide among themselves the construct from which to choose.

This is not to place all of the blame on those institutions because the systems of misinformation and social manipulation are only proliferated when you have a disengaged public. We must all stop shaking our heads and accepting the inevitability of the ascendance of either a Democrat or Republican to the executive office or any public office for that matter. We have to take back our voices of support from politicians that prey on our insecurities about the future. No one has the right to determine our destinies without our consent. I plan on taking back my political power by voting for Stein, but if you do not agree with her that is o.k too. If you truly believe that one of the other candidates represents your best interests, after researching their platform and looking at their history, then by all means support that candidate. If you believe that none of them represent your views…withhold your vote. W.E.B DuBois has often been quoted for refusing to vote for anything short of a candidate that best represented his views on how a democratic nation should operate, and history remembers him well for his integrity.

Whatever it is that you plan to do during this election season do NOT dismiss someone else’s perspective and replace it with your ideology. Even more important to me is avoiding the politically polarizing phrase, protest vote. It was not a protest vote in 2000 with Ralph Nader and it is not a protest vote now for any other candidate other than Clinton or Trump. It is my vote, it is your vote, and it is how this country has led its citizens to believe we should go about making our collective political voices heard.