“Racist Trump” or “Crooked Hillary?” With the recent nominations of the Democratic and Republican candidates, many people wonder, “How the f–k did we get here?” From what first appeared as a joke, Donald Trump somehow became the Republican nominee. On the other side, many people criticize Hillary Clinton for her e-mail scandal, FBI investigation, Benghazi and her past inconsistent opinions on current issues. As a first-time voter, I feel disappointed with the options–or lack thereof–this election season, so disappointed that I questioned even bothering to vote at all. Anyone else low-key feeling like the fall of America is upon us? Just kidding. But really, SOS.
Simply put, politics are messy and confusing. There’s a reason it’s called political science, because many people struggle to fully wrap their head around it, just like black holes. Yes, I just compared politics to black holes.
This election in particular feels like sinking deeper and deeper into the singularity of a black hole. Every time another racist comment, change of opinion, accusation of carelessness or proof of plagiarism plagues the media, I cringe a little bit more. Not only due to the fact that these issues often surpass middle-school level immaturity, but also because one of these two candidates will soon represent America as a whole. Yikes.
Now, I would not consider myself politically savvy, but I do try to learn from both sides and stay informed. Unfortunately, with the disappointment coming from both sides, I’m lost somewhere in the middle. I felt like I had to vote for Clinton in order to steal a vote from Trump, but then I realized I don’t know if I can vote for Clinton with a good conscience. Again, infinite black hole.
Thankfully, there are two other candidates running for president this election year: Jill Stein, representing the Green Party, and Gary Johnson, representing the Libertarian party. But what in the world do these two obscure parties even stand for? For all you know, the Green Party could mean they really like the color green. They don’t, but they do really like “going green” as they push for using more environmentally-friendly sources of energy. The Green Party also promotes a smaller military, social justice for the underprivileged and a stronger democracy that includes open debates and a more representative voting system. Jill Stein actually shares similar views to Bernie Sanders. She promotes the use of clean energy, a smaller military, education reform and the federal legalization of Marijuana. For Johnson and the Libertarian Party, they believe in “minimum government” and “maximum freedom.” Essentially, they think we should have less government interference in our lives when it comes to things like our health, businesses and marriage. To sum up Gary Johnson, rather than wanting to “make America great again” he hopes to, “make America sane again.”
While these candidates very likely will not win, that shouldn’t discourage you from considering them as options. If one of the third parties receive 5% of the public vote, then that party will receive federal funding and ballot access for the next election. Even if it may seem like a pointless vote, it’s better to vote for someone you actually support rather than voting for someone as a last resort. Consider looking into these two third-party candidates and find out what they stand for, because maybe your views will line up with theirs. You may not elect the next president, but you’ll help build up a party you do believe in while also not voting for someone you wholly disagree with.
But most importantly, remember that you also have Congress to elect. When you choose not to vote, you also avoid voting for the congressmen and senators for your individual state. You can also contact these people to help make the changes that you want to see happen. “If you’re not satisfied with the candidates on the ballot, the only way to bring change is to become more involved in the political process,” graphics editor for The New York Times Wilson Andrews said. “Call your congressmen and women. Get active in the issues that matter most to you…The only way candidates will be responsive to new ideas is to make yourself heard.”
Amidst all the confusing and chaos this election season, I hope that you find clarity in a candidate who you can completely say supports your views. “I hope that every U.S. citizen has the desire to vote,” Andrews said, “To not exercise that right is to be apathetic about the future of your city, state and nation.” I hope to see you all at the ballots this year, and may the odds be ever in your favor!