After careful consideration, I have decided to write in my niece’s cat for President.
I would obviously act differently if I lived in Ohio or North Carolina, but Hillary Clinton will almost certainly do next to nothing to fix the biggest problem facing the United States: The economy is broken, twisted in favor of the rich. For millions of Americans, there is no longer any relationship between having the desire and skills to work and being able to make a living. There is no longer any security that working will make you able to afford a place to live.
Clinton offers only vague, token solutions to those problems—mostly initiatives to give a few more people the chance to enter the upper-middle class, and a slightly higher floor under the lower-working class. The $12-an-hour minimum wage she supports might reduce the number of hours of work needed to afford a one-room apartment in New York’s poorest neighborhoods from 120 to 100. She represents the “responsible” wing of the 1%. The main argument to vote for her is the traditional “if you don’t, the horrible evil Republicans will pack the Supreme Court!”
Donald Trump really is that horrible and evil, though. He represents the irresponsible wing of the 1%. His wife-beater style of debate, indiscriminately spraying accusations, insults, and politically slanted lies like a man with a piece of lint stuck in his urethra, is so ignorant and obnoxious that it actually makes me want to vote for Clinton. Yes, I would rather drink corporate-Democrat urine than the toxic waste of a racist blowhard con artist’s personality cult.
Trump taps into the anger of people screwed by the economy of the last generation, such as those told by the Clinton Democrats of the ’90s, ‘your jobs being shipped to low-wage countries is the price of progress, but we’ll bring you into the future by giving you an eight-week class in Microsoft Excel.’ But his few actual policy proposals are the well-worn scam that cutting taxes and regulations on the rich will bring unprecedented prosperity to America. He has a long record of stiffing people who worked for him, from the undocumented Polish laborers who erected the Trump Tower to the architects and contractors who designed and built his casinos. Thinking Trump will really help working people is as stupid as believing that not vaccinating your kids for diphtheria will make them healthier.
There are millions of people in America who are that fucking stupid.
Not all of Trump’s supporters are bigoted bullies, and it is usually unfair to judge a political cause by its most extreme supporters. It is still highly unlikely that an obvious heterosexual showing up at an “LGBT for Hillary” rally would get punched in the face by someone screaming, “Fuck you, breeder!”
The only reason to vote for Trump would be out of a nihilistic-hedonist fantasy, like that if a nuclear missile were headed for New York, you could load up on an LSD-OxyContin cocktail and watch the fireworks with an appropriately don’t-give-a-toss attitude.
Speaking of drugs, Libertarian Gary Johnson is one of the few American politicians with an honest stance on the issue. He doesn’t talk evasive rubbish about having “experimented” with marijuana; he says, “I smoked it.” Getting drunk in a bar is legal, he argues, but driving drunk isn’t—so why shouldn’t the law be the same for pot?
On the other hand, the Libertarian party platform is like a Yiddish curse for aging potheads. Yes, you’ll be able to buy weed legally, but you won’t be able to afford it, not without Social Security you won’t. (Johnson personally advocates just shrinking Social Security, by converting it from a universal entitlement to a means-tested welfare program and raising the retirement age.) And when you get pneumonia from sleeping outside (no rent controls or subsidized housing either) and go to the emergency room without Medicare, all you’ll get is a lecture on “personal responsibility.”
Green Party candidate Jill Stein has one brilliant idea: A “Green New Deal,” a massive public-works project that would convert the U.S. to solar and wind energy, creating thousands of jobs in the process. The problem I have is that her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, called the “Je suis Charlie” march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre of 2015 a “White Power rally,” arguing that it was a self-centered, arrogant defense of a racist magazine. That attitude was far too common on the U.S. left. It represents a Twitter-post-level understanding of both the nature of satire and French politics, and came a half-step away from condoning the cartoonists’ murder.
Third parties can be a valid electoral strategy, but they have had much more success in local elections, where they actually have a reasonable chance of winning. In a national vote, it would take a phenomenal organizing effort and rare political circumstances for one to be more than a fringe or a spoiler. In the last 100 years, only one left-of-center third party has garnered more than 10% of the vote in a presidential election: Robert LaFollette’s Progressives in 1924. The last third party to win one was the Republicans in 1860, when the Democrats split into factions over slavery and Abraham Lincoln won a four-way race.
Therefore, I am going to cast my ballot for Nebulon Wishnia-Peña, a black female about 5 years old (that’s arguably 35 in cat years, OK?) from the great state of Rhode Island. I will do this even though her aversion to almost all humans, not to mention her inability to speak English, Spanish, or any human language, would make her a terrible campaigner.
I know this is an absurdist and utterly impotent protest, an act of invisible symbolism fueled by despair. But given the alternatives available in the current system, it’s the most I can do.
On the other hand, if I lived in Pennsylvania, I’d vote for Clinton.
Steven Wishnia is a longtime writer and editor for The Indypendent and has covered campaigning, conventions, and protests in five presidential elections.
Election Views: Vote Jill Stein for President by Ursula Rozum