Is It Right Or Wrong To Vote For Neither Trump Nor Hillary?

Your Answer Is Not Based On Your Politics But Rather On Your Personality

Oct 26, 2016 · 4 min read
© Lillia | Dreamstime Stock Photos

There are certain situations where a person’s actions are based on their bedrock ideas about how they think humans are supposed to behave.

An Emotional Rorschach Test–The Sinking Lifeboat Scenario

There are six people in a leaking lifeboat. If they do nothing the boat will sink and all will drown. If one person leaves the boat, lightening it, it will stay afloat long enough for the remaining five to reach a nearby island and survive.

They all draw straws to see who will sacrifice himself, but the person who gets the short straw refuses to jump overboard into the shark-infested water.

Is it moral for the other five to throw the loser overboard, killing him, to save their own lives? Or, is the moral choice for the five “long straw” people to do nothing thus condemning all six of them to certain death?

Your Answer Depends On How You Think

Depending on the personality, character, emotional make-up, and sense of ethics of each individual, different people will give different answers to this question. While you can argue that the “right” answer can be logically determined, at its heart this is not really a question of logic.

Rather, this scenario is a kind of Rorschach test for your personality. People will implacably stick to their position irrespective of any logical arguments that might be raised by those on the other side.

The Presidential Election Scenario

Here are the stipulations that underlie our exploration of this “I’ve decided to vote for neither Trump nor Hillary” discussion:

  • You acknowledge that our next President will be either Trump or Hillary
  • You think that Trump being elected President is a completely unacceptable result
  • You very much dislike Hillary Clinton

I think that the question of whether it is right or wrong for you to vote for neither Trump nor Hillary is the sort of question where your answer depends far more on your personality than on your politics.

If you don’t want Trump to win and if you also think that it’s a good idea for you not to vote for Hillary then it follows that you’re certain that Hillary will win without your vote, that she doesn’t need your vote in order to beat him. Otherwise you couldn’t afford to throw your vote away.

“Oh, no,” you say, “I’m not throwing my vote away. I’m going to vote for the Vegetarian candidate as a protest vote.”

It’s Not A Protest Vote

What are you protesting? That both candidates are terrible? That’s not news. What message do you think you’re sending that people haven’t already received?

The entire country knows that both Hillary and Trump are wildly unpopular. No one’s going to say, “Gee, Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin each getting that extra 1% of the popular vote has opened my eyes about how unpopular Hillary and Trump are.”

Don’t be silly.

A vote that is not cast for one of the two candidates who will actually win is nothing more than a choice to allow other people to pick your next president for you. That might make some sense if you were equally willing to accept either one as President, if you didn’t care who won. But if you absolutely don’t want Trump to win, why would you leave the choice between the two of them to others?

Because this is one of those situations where your decision is less based on logic than it is on your personality.

Let’s look at this in terms of a scenario disconnected from liberal or conservative ideologies.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Several readers pointed out flaws in an analogy I included in the original version of this article.

I’ve therefore decided to remove what I called “The Armored Car Scenario” and replace it with the following “Mountain Road Scenario.”

To the readers who made those comments I say, “Thank you.”

The Mountain Road Scenario

You’re driving down a narrow, twisty, steep mountain road and you lose your brakes. There’s a three-hundred foot sheer cliff to your left and a forest of large trees to your right.

As your car picks up speed you realize that you have only three choices:

  • Swerve to the left and go over the cliff to your certain death
  • Swerve to the right, smash into a tree and live but likely be seriously injured
  • Do nothing, close your eyes, and let fate decide whether you go off the cliff or into the trees

You may think that a quick death is better than living with serious, perhaps debilitating injuries. Or that life is always better than death.

Picking death does not mean that you like death. Picking serious injuries does not mean you like being injured. If you elect to choose, all your particular choice means which of the two you think is the least bad outcome.

Or you may elect to do nothing.

Which of the three options you choose is a window into your personality.

Do you pick what you think is the least bad choice and decide your own fate or do you leave your destiny to random chance?

Well, what’s your answer?

As for me, I think the better course is to pick what you think is the least bad alternative rather than letting random fate decide your future. But that’s just my personality.

–David Grace

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Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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