On Voting Your Conscience

Online lately there’s been a lot of vitriol, a lot of angry name calling and finger-pointing. I’d like to invite us all to calm the fuck down for a second and actually think about this.
I’m a firm advocate of voting your conscience. In fact, it’s the only way I ever think anyone should vote, and I think the US would be in a much better place if we all did this. But what does this even mean?
In 2000, when I voted for Ralph Nader, it meant “Vote for the Green Party.” But, is that all it should mean? I think that’s still how a lot of people take it.
What I would like to suggest, though, is that it means, or should mean, something much deeper than that. I would like to suggest that rather than having it mean ” turn off your brain and go with your emotional, knee-jerk reaction” that maybe it should mean that we actually take some time to think about this shit. That instead of pointing accusatory fingers at other people, maybe it should mean that we do some deep introspection and acknowledge the extreme difficulty of our own, personal reality.

Full disclosure, I am a strong Bernie Sanders supporter, even still. In 2016, I did vote my conscience. I voted for Jill Stein. Now, before you yell at me for “electing Trump,” know that I voted in Colorado, which went for Hillary anyway, even without my one, little vote. And also, please realize that the number of people who didn’t vote at all probably had more to do with that than little ol’ me. And also, please consider that Hillary was a shitty fucking candidate in her own right. Just think about these things before you judge.
This was not an easy decision for me, nor will it be this time around. It’s not an easy decision for any of us, and I think we should acknowledge that. Part of the reason why it’s such a difficult decision is because of our shitty, two-party system which attempts to force a binary choice on many whose ideology just does not fit into either of those binary options. Yet, we’re told (thank you South Park) that we must choose between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, but that perfectly edible bean burrito over there isn’t an option because no one else is eating bean burritos.
Okay. That’s probably as far as I should take that analogy.
I have deep respect for Noam Chomsky, and I usually agree with him, too. 99.999% of the time. But Noam Chomsky is a much more nuanced thinker than many of us. He has stated that what we actually have in this country is one party, the corporate party, with two wings, the Democratic wing and the Republican wing. I think this is spot on. However, what a lot of people take away from Chomsky’s statement is that both parties are “the same,” which they are most certainly, provably not.
Before I go on, let me re-emphasize, that I am not a mainstream Democrat, and I am not a supporter of Joe Biden. Nor could I see myself actively supporting any neoliberal, mainstream Democratic candidate that the DNC might replace him with, should they do so. And, regardless of anyone voting for any “third party” in the general election, I think Joe Biden is Hillary Clinton 2.0, plus cognitive decline and a credible sexual assault allegation, and he will lose. To Trump. The worst president ever. If I end up being wrong about this, I will happily admit it.
But let’s think about this for a minute. Just think. You don’t have to make a decision. Just consider. Joe Biden would be “better” than Trump in a few very specific ways, although better than god-fucking-awful is still not very good. But one of the ways in which Biden would be “better” than Trump is with regard to environmental issues, which are my top issues, honestly. Also, I believe that environmental issues should be a lot more important to most people than they often seem to be. Not that Joe Biden would do “enough” to mitigate climate change and stop the mass extinction we’re in the middle of. He would not. But Trump is actively speeding up both of these destructive processes.
For instance, A Biden administration would not roll back decades of environmental regulations that have slowed the rate of climate change, prevented toxic shit from being spewed into the air and the water, and brought animals back from the brink of extinction. I’m guessing, he would probably re-instate all Obama era regulations, which would be a small step back from the cliff. He wouldn’t ban fracking or anything, but he probably would at least re-instate the Methane Rule, which prevented fracker-fuckers from venting methane into the atmosphere. Methane, by the way, is one of the nastiest greenhouse gasses of them all, if you didn’t know. And Biden would not put the likes of Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA. Or William Perry Pendley in charge of the BLM. And Trump absolutely did.
Biden, or any Democrat, would also not have shrunk Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, and would probably restore them to their original boundaries. There’s a lot that I could say about this, (and there’s a lot I do say about it in my book, How To NOT Be A Dumbass In A National Park (And How To Fight The Power), available now on Amazon Kindle for the low, low price of $0.99! Just sayin’.) but this is something else that should be a much higher priority to most people than it is. For one thing, Trump’s shrinkage of Bears Ears was an absolute middle finger in the air to the five indigenous tribes that petitioned the government for years to have Bears Ears designated. And for another thing, the shrinkage of both monuments made accessible all kinds of nasty, toxic, climate change increasing shit, like coal, tar sands oil, coal bed methane, and uranium, that now can be mined, drilled, and fracked because they are no longer inside a national monument.
If Trump is re-elected, the mining, fracking, and drilling of these area will go forward, as will the mining, fracking, and drilling of hundreds of other federally protected lands that any Democratic administration would not be quite so quick to allow the fossil fuckers to have their way with, such as the beautiful North Fork Valley, which is just a couple hours drive from my house. So, yeah. This does get kind of personal for me.
These are just a few small examples of how a Biden administration would be “better” than a Trump administration. I’m sure there are others.

But so, I ask you to think, really think about this. If you vote for a third party, or don’t vote, and if then Trump wins again, and knowing what you know about what Trump will do to our planet, is your conscience going to be okay with that?

Seriously. For real. I’m asking myself these very same questions. And I’m not rushing to an answer. We’re in a shitty position. It sucks. Because we’re being asked to give up one of the very few ways in which we get to exercise our power, our autonomy, our voice. Joe Biden does not speak for me, he does not represent me, he does not express “my voice.” Neither does Trump. I am wholly unrepresented by those two candidates. Yet, I am being asked to vote for one of them because the other one will fuck us all to death, and we don’t want to be fucked to death, do we? (Again, thank you South Park.)
My inclination is still to vote for Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins. I am still in Colorado, which will still probably go for Biden anyway, or whoever the Democrat is. And Hawkins actually does represent policies I want to see happen.
But if I do entertain thoughts of voting for Biden, will my conscience be okay with that? Because I believe Tara Reade. I believe Joe Biden probably did sexually assault her. And I believe that, although he may undo some of the environmental damage Trump has done, he still won’t do enough to put us on the track that leads away from mass extinction and global climate chaos.

This is a shitty situation. No two ways about it. And I probably won’t make up my mind until I have that ballot in front of me, staring me in the face. I’ll sit with it for a while, maybe a long time, and contemplate, and ask myself, “What feels like the right thing to do?” The one thing I’m for sure not gonna do is give anyone else an ounce of shit about what they decide after closely examining their own conscience.

Read Related Post “On Wasting Your Vote.”

2 Comments on “On Voting Your Conscience

  1. Pingback: On Wasting Your Vote | Eli J.

  2. Pingback: On Voting Blue No Matter Who. | Eli J.

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