A vote for Jill Stein is not a vote for Trump and why I’m voting for Hillary anyway
Telling me that my vote for Dr. Jill Stein is wasted (and as good as voting for Trump) may never bring me to heel because you (the broader Democratic establishment) are suffering from the delusion that I am voting for a person.
I am not.
I may have registered Democrat to vote in this primary but I did so for a candidate that represents a set of philosophies that are not (and potentially have never been) part of the Democratic party platform: the government’s job is to provide a good life to all of its citizens. Full stop. Bernie and the Democratic Party disagree on the extent to which this good life is to be provided by the government, what constitutes a citizen, and more importantly how it is to be achieved. Bernie and Hillary are so ideologically different that in many countries, they would not have been running for the same party.
Yet, I am told continually to vote for the lesser of two evils, a sentiment which I recall as early as the 2nd grade during the re-election of Bill Clinton. Implicit in this statement is that there are only two options. The broken primary and two party systems that we use to elect our Presidents are so ingrained in our personal narrative surrounding politics that it is implicit in the language we use to describe them.
My vote for Bernie in the Wisconsin primary was a vote against this system. My vote for Bernie was a vote to have more power in my governance than a corporation. If I choose to vote for Jill Stein, my vote is not against Hillary Clinton or for Donald Trump, my vote is to bring about the changes in our political system that I deem necessary. My vote for Jill Stein is a vote for a system in which multiple competing points of view can coexist. This election is not, to me, the election of a person but the opportunity to create change.
But I will not be voting for Jill Stein.
My support of Bernie is fraught with internal conflict. Voting against the person who could be the first female president was not a decision that I made easily. During the Clinton presidencies, from ages 4 to 12, I told everyone that I encountered that I would be President one day. I endured every strange look and every person who, in utter condescension, said “Oh that’s adorable, sweetie” and patted me on the head. I wrote letters to the Clintons and spent my time tracing myself on brown paper and coloring an image of myself wearing a power suit and pearls (an outfit I had seen many times on the then First Lady). The person who told me this was possible was Hillary Clinton. Yet, I voted against her in this primary in spite of supporting her against Barack Obama. The decision to do so was not about her charisma, Benghazi, or her emails but because I genuinely do not feel that she would change the political system that I think is broken.
Throughout this election, I have felt (and currently feel) like Hillary doesn’t want my vote, or rather that her campaign takes my and my ideological fellows’ votes for granted. I feel this for a lot of reasons, not least: 1. Famous and non-famous feminists alike have stood in line to tell me that I am not a feminist because I support a candidate who is politically very different from Hillary but also, coincidentally, male. 2. Rather than choosing a truly progressive running mate who shares values with a large majority of young liberals who have been the base of support for her (sizable) opposition, Hillary chose a centrist, whose record on many of the issues that I care about is abysmal, in an effort to court moderate Republicans scared by Trump instead of voters like myself. 3. When information was provided that the Democratic National Committee behaved in a manner that was not conducive to a fair and open primary (a major complaint of many Bernie supporters) and the head of the DNC resigned, she was immediately offered a position within the Clinton campaign.
I have felt forced to not identify with the Clinton campaign and the DNC which have both made many deliberate decisions to forgo my vote. Even Bernie telling me that the only way to a progressive America is to vote for Hillary in the upcoming election cycle is not enough to cow me (partially because I resent any old dude telling me what to do, even Bernie).
Largely, this itemized list represents something bigger — a total misunderstanding of what this election is about to many Bernie supporters. This election is not a normal election. Bernie supporters are not naïve children who are pouting because their candidate didn’t win. We are ideologues who genuinely believe that the status quo is unacceptable. To a group of people who have defined their participation in this election on a set of shared values, asking them to violate those values in an effort to avoid a greater evil will inevitably be unsuccessful. In fact, making this argument likely galvanizes Bernie supporters because it intrinsically provides proof that the system is broken.
Yet, there is one argument that will bring me to heel for this election (though I will likely be as unmanageable next time, just ask my father): The road towards a system that is less broken is via a Clinton presidency. My ideals tell me to vote for Jill Stein but her lack of experience means she will be unable to alter a system so entrenched in the establishment. Bernie is special. Bernie is unique in that his track record for political change within the establishment is impeccable. Jill Stein’s is not. In fact, Hillary’s is better. So, #ImWithHer.