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Voting Your Conscience is Unconscionable

I have a number of friends who are dismayed that Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton and have voiced the opinion that Sanders “sold out” and should have joined Jill Stein on the Green Party ticket (or at least endorsed her). They, themselves, are planning to vote for the Green Party or, in some cases other minor parties, “out of conscience.”

The arguments for the so-called “conscience vote” are that a) there are no differences between Trump and Clinton so there is no point choosing one or the other, or b) Trump will never win anyway, so a vote for a third party candidate is showing how many people support a Green platform without fear that it will hurt Clinton’s chances, or c) voting for the “lesser of two evils” is cowardly and it is more courageous to stand up for one’s values and vote for a third party candidate or not vote at all.

Recent polls show the presidential race narrowing, with Trump pulling ahead in some swing states, so that the argument that Clinton doesn’t need all the votes she can get flies in the face of reality. Most polls and pundits now believe it will be an extremely close race.

Are there really no differences between Clinton and Trump? Their positions on immigration differ radically: Trump wants to round up illegal immigrants and send them home, build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, ban Muslims from entering the country. Clinton favors none of these options and favors no deportation for illegal immigrants who have not committed a crime in the U.S.

On the issue that currently divides our country more than any other, Donald Trump views Black Lives Matter as divisive and racist, he favors a “law and order” approach to problems in policing. Clinton wants to reform the justice system because she believes it harbors systemic racism.

With regard to wages, Trump says that wages are “too high.” He favors tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. His party favors cutting benefits for the poor and limiting welfare benefits. Clinton favors increasing the minimum wage dramatically, opposes tax cuts for the wealthy, wants to remove tax loopholes for corporations and expand benefits for the poor.

On healthcare, Trump wants to get rid of Obamacare, replace it with a version of the previous healthcare system. Clinton wants to extend Obamacare and include a public option in which the government directly provides health insurance.

Trump’s foreign policy favors torture and killing the families of terrorists, arming Japan and South Korea with nuclear weapons, and “bombing the hell” out of Syria and Iraq with the aim that the U.S. will take their oil fields for ourselves. Clinton is admittedly hawkish on the U.S. leading a coalition against ISIS and against dictators such as Assad in Syria. Although she is generally pro-Israel on most issues, she has a history of brokering agreements between Palestine and Israel,.

Donald Trump denies man-made climate change, wants a return to fossil fuels and wants the United States to remove itself from international agreements to reduce greenhouse gases and to do away with the EPA. Hillary Clinton supports international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, wants the United States to be a world leader in addressing climate change, opposes both coal use and the Keystone Pipeline, and strongly supports the EPA.

Hillary Clinton wants to put a judge on the Supreme Court who will support abortion rights, same sex marriage and gun control. Donald Trump wants to put a conservative judge, who opposes each of these issues, on the Supreme Court. Clinton wants to increase controls on availability and sales of guns, Trump wants to remove restrictions on gun sales and believes America is safer the more people who are armed.

And some people think there are no differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.


I’m fearful of electing Donald Trump as President of the United States. Hillary Clinton also has several negatives in my mind. But on none of these issues is she as opposite to my inclinations as is Donald Trump. And on most issues, I agree with her position and disagree with his. But most of all, Trump appears to be a candidate who panders to racists and bigots, who drums up support for an intolerant, xenophobic America, who seems to have put little thought into foreign policy or how to deal with domestic issues such as race relations or poverty, who is willing to violate the constitution with regard to religious rights for Muslims, and who is willing to violate laws with regard to torture and how to conduct wars. And he is catching Hillary Clinton in the polls.

Clinton is not just marginally the lesser of two evils, she is markedly preferable to Trump as a presidential candidate. Trump is dangerous to the climate, to world peace, to race relations within the U.S., and to the rule of law as defined by our constitution. On top of that, he seems to be petty and vindictive in how he deals with people and issues. Does it take courage to resist trying to defeat Donald Trump because he is a genuine threat to America? Would it have been courageous to not oppose Hitler because one’s opposition was based on fear of his actions? That argument makes no sense. It is not courageous to allow someone to be elected who will change the basic morals and freedoms we currently value in America.

Those who say they plan to “vote their conscience” want to support a candidate who has no chance of winning the presidency. How can their consciences tell them that being instrumental in allowing a racist, xenophobic enemy of the poor become president is the moral thing for them to do? The purpose of elections is to choose who will lead our country, not to register personal opinions through some act of being true to oneself. If Donald Trump is elected, such third party votes will have become meaningless in terms of determining the direction of our country. That is not what voting is for.

In 2004, many of my same friends voted for Ralph Nader, running as the Green Party candidate. The result was that George W. Bush won the election and Al Gore lost. Bush led us into Iraq, instituted tax cuts for the wealthy and eventually led us into the greatest recession since the great depression. Gore went on to become a world leader in sounding the alarm about climate change.

We don’t need to have a similar result in this election. Donald Trump is a far worse option than was George W. Bush. Those with a real conscience will vote for Hillary Clinton, even if they only consider her the lesser of two evils. Greater evil is not something that someone with a conscience welcomes.


Reader Comments (5)

It is absurd to use the process we do.
Viewed objectively, it appears quite similar to a slot machine, regardless of the issues one might prioritize, or how one might view each or any issue(s), the reality is that unless a majority of the slots line up, the machine sits idle for at least two years when the public gets to pull the handle again and hope the slots line up better.
Two years.

July 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike Anderson

You make a compelling case for Clinton. I remember when some of my friends voted for Ralph Nader in order to make a statement, and while I respect the significance of a symbolic vote, I'm for making my vote count. Trump's views are alarming, and the prospect of him commanding this nation is somewhat terrifying. Even if he did carelessly throw sensational phrases at us as an evasive debate strategy, a U.S. President shouldn't compromise his ethics like that. Whatever happens, I'm a man of faith, I trust God to see us through. And I think Hillary will be a good President.

July 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobert L.

Casey, you are better than this! Your claims against Trump are so wrong and extreme. For example, Trump doesn't want to "round up" illegals, nor does he want to "ban" muslims. This kind of rhetoric is the reason why there is such a separation in politics today. There are difference between the two candidates, but not as extreme as you state. You make Trump seem like an evil hater while Hilary comes off as a perfect soul of ethics and humanity. Neither is the case. When you can present a more water down version of your extreme bias and filtered perspective, then maybe we can have an adult discussion of what makes the two candidates ideologically different, and both viable all the same.

July 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Torph

Elizabeth: On December 15, 2015 and January 14, 2016 during Republican debates, Donald Trump reiterated his plan to “ban all Muslims from entering the country.” On November 10, 2015 at a Republican debate and the next day on Morning Joe, Trump reiterated his plan to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. He said he would use a “humane deportation force” to do so. Where is the misrepresentation of exaggeration? I am simply saying what Donald Trump has announced several times in public for everyone to see and hear.

July 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Dorman

You are being disingenuous. When he said ban all Muslims, he said so that they could be vetted properly and we could identify who is coming into this country. You statement makes it sound prejudice and bigoted...like he hates all Muslims and wants them never to be allowed in this country. Nor is it his plan to pounding on doors, ripping illegals out of their homes, and putting them on busses to transport them out. Your statement makes it sound that way. In reality, if found out that you are illegal, he says they should be deported. Any other country would do the same! So, yes, he does intend for people who are here illegally to be deported. This would be a major different between Hilary and Trump. One believes in our rule of law of this Country, and one feels that there are privileges for some who are above our laws, and do not have to follow the laws that the average American citizen does.. Your statements are playing upon the righteousness of your ideas...even though there is righteousness in following our Laws, keeping Americans safe, and having expectations of being an honorable American. Is it a nice thing to say Muslims should be vetted and waited on? No, it isn't a great sound bite. But is it the job of a leader to make sure that people coming into this country are safe for the citizens already here? Does it sound humane to send back poor, hard working illegals to their homes? No. But it is not the moral high ground for the leader of this country to follow the Laws of this country, and make sure that ALL its citizens are treated equally. Illegals now are treated with special treatment OVER American Citizens. Why is that right, or that your touting Liberals perspective as some kind of moral high ground? Again, there are major difference between the two candidates. Point them out! Some will see that taking care of Muslims is more important than the safety issues. That is an adult argument. But to tout that Trump is some kind of degenerate vs Hilary as some kind of saint...well, I think I made my case.

July 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Torph

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