I have often boasted that my very first vote for President was for a woman. It was in the Illinois primary of 1964, and I registered Republican in order to vote for Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who had challenged Senator Barry Goldwater for the Republican nomination. I voted for Lyndon Baines Johnson in the general, and I’ve never had cause to regret either vote.
It has since become my belief that you vote your heart, your conscience, or your protest in the primaries, unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.
In general elections, however, I believe it is your civic duty to vote for the good of your community, for the good of your state, for the good of your country.
How did Richard Nixon become President of the United States? What would have been the outcome if all those clamoring for Eugene McCarthy had turned out en masse for Hubert Humphrey? Did the country at large really elect Ronald Reagan? Or were the people who had backed George McGovern to the hilt disenchanted with the relatively colorless honesty of Jimmy Carter? And how do you feel about your very conscientious vote for Ralph Nader now that the eight years of Dubya have come and gone?
I have no proof at all that there were enough of “us” to elect Hubert or re-elect Jimmy. By the year 2000, however, there were certainly enough of us to elect Al Gore or even throw Dubya out in 2004.
By 2008, there was no doubt that there were enough of us fired up and ready to go for Obama, even after a very contentious primary. People all across the country got to vote their consciences in the 2008 primaries, and when one candidate won, most of the others voted for the country, with the blessings of Hillary Clinton.
All during the 2016 primaries, however, for many of “us” not only was Bernie Sanders a hero, but Hillary Clinton was the political anti-Christ. It wasn’t just that her policies were not as “revolutionary” as Bernie’s. It was that incremental change was somehow in the service of her “masters” on Wall Street. Even now, I am getting posts on Facebook that state outright that Hillary is a liar and that the primary elections were stolen.
I don't have much to say to those folks.
But for others, those who still see Hillary only as a “lesser of two evils,” of having to "hold their noses to vote for her," those threatening to write in Bernie or Jill Stein or Oswald Cobblepot, please rethink your vote.
You had the chance to vote your heart, your conscience, your protest, in the primary election. I assume you did so. I assume also that you know that great numbers of people agreed with you – just not enough. Hillary Clinton’s victory in the primary does not mean that your voice is silenced. There will be plenty of opportunity in the years ahead for you to make your voices heard. Plenty of chances to urge Hillary closer to your end of the spectrum.
But this November 8th is not that chance. This November 8th isn’t all about you.
November 8th, 2016, is the day you vote for your country.