July 28, 2015

Political Questions Ahead of the 2016 U.S. Election

Red-blue-purple view of counties
By M. E. J. Newman, via Wikimedia Commons
I've seen several people on the various social media networks in which I participate asking all sorts of hypothetical questions about the 2016 U.S. presidential election. "If the election was held today and all the current candidates were still running, who would you vote for?" "If the Democratic primary was held today, would you vote for Clinton or Sanders?" "How can any sane person seriously support Trump for president?"

I think it is great to see this much interest in politics this far ahead of the election. I'm hoping that 2016 will be the year we make some real progress in increasing voter turnout among religiously unaffiliated voters. If we can do that, we increase the chances that those running for office in the future will listen to us.

I suspect that the motives for asking questions like this so far in advance of the election vary considerably. For some, it is simple curiosity. Others might be trying to get a better read on the political persuasion of their friends, followers, or others in their social networks. And a few are probably more interested in trying to identify any "sexists" who might have snuck into their various circles in order to purge them. Whatever the reason, I say keep the discussions going. Elections matter, and apathy is the enemy.

As for me, I do not yet know enough about all the candidates to be confident that any decision I'd make today would persist unchanged all the way to the election. I am not yet sure about the positions every person running for office holds on the issues I consider most important. I do not know which of the candidates currently running will still be around by the time I have a ballot in front of me. I try to be an informed voter before casting my vote, and I do not feel sufficiently informed at this point.

But back to the hypothetical questions I see so many people asking, here are my answers to a few of them:
  • If I had to make a decision right now about who I think I would be most likely to support in the Democratic primary, who would it be? It would be Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • Do I think that Sanders has any hope of actually winning the Democratic party's nomination for president? No, none whatsoever.
  • If Hillary Clinton were to win the Democratic primary and go against any of the current Republican candidates, would I vote for her in the general election? I'm not sure. It would depend on how far to the left she had shifted, whether I believed the shift was sincere, how she explains her association with the Christian extremist group known as "the Family," and who the Green Party was running. My best guess at this point is that I would probably vote for the Green Party candidate over Clinton.
  • Are there any of the current Republican candidates I could imagine supporting? I support Donald Trump remaining in the race as long as possible because I think he may hurt their chances, I find him extremely entertaining, and I think his candidacy may be good for us in some ways. But that's about it, and there is no way I would vote for Trump in the general election.
Keep the questions coming. Keep the political discussion coming. Keep the political interest high. We need more secular voters no matter who they support for president. We need to achieve a significant increase in turnout among secular voters.