November 7, 2016

How I Came to Vote for Jill Stein in the 2016 Election

Green Party of the United States New LogoTwo days before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it is clear that Donald Trump is going to win the state in which I reside by a large margin. A Trump victory in Mississippi was never really in doubt. The only question was whether it would be even remotely close. It does not appear that it will be close.

Because I understand that U.S. presidential elections are not determined by a national popular vote and because I am aware that I do not live in a swing state, I recognize that my vote in this particular contest will not affect the outcome. That being the case, I opted not to vote for the lesser of the two establishment party evils. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is well qualified to be president, and I expect she will do a fine job of continuing many of President Obama's more conservative policies if she is elected. That said, I will vote for a somewhat lesser evil: Jill Stein.

Of course, Stein is far from an ideal candidate. Very far. If I thought she had a legitimate chance of winning this election, I probably would not vote for her either. While I would rather have her as president than Clinton, that isn't saying much at all. Much like Atheism and the City, I cannot pretend to support her enthusiastically. My vote for Stein is merely a strategic vote intended to help the Green Party get closer to the 5% mark they need to receive federal election funds and increased credibility in future elections. It is also a reflection of my growing dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party. I am not about to uncritically support any candidate they put in front of me, and my vote reflects that.

Believe it or not, I am not entirely ready to turn my back on the Democratic Party. I am, however, closer than I have ever been to doing so. I'm still holding out hope that they will fix some of the problems that led to the nomination of such an unpopular candidate, reverse their authoritarian tendencies, and rethink their abandonment of the working class voters they used to champion (many of whom were alienated to the point where they supported Trump). I really do hope they can get on track again.

In the meantime, I think I would be good to have some viable third parties. In fact, I suspect that the threat of a viable third party challenge from the left might prompt some change in much the same way that the candidacy of Bernie Sanders appears to have done. If nothing else, the 2016 election has convinced me that the two party system has failed us and needs significant reform, the emergence of additional parties, or both.