Tomorrow is the big day. (Unless, like me, you’ll be out of town tomorrow, in which case Saturday morning at 8 a.m. was the big day.) It has finally and ultimately come down to this: when all the votes are cast and counted, one of two people will have been elected as our next President.
We will have president-elect Trump, or president-elect Hillary. All signs point to the latter, but it is by no means a certainty. Trump has surged, she has dropped, and the third party support has evaporated.
Most of you will walk into a polling place tomorrow and face the reality of your decision. There is a difference between how you feel in theory, and what it is like to stare down at that ballot and see the names and affirmatively put your precious vote to work for one of them. Or none of them.
Before Ted Cruz was wrong, he was right. He said, at the Republican Convention, to vote your conscience, and that is precisely what you must do.
If you vote for Donald Trump because you feel Hillary must be stopped, you are voting your conscience. You’re making a value judgment. Don’t claim, as so many try, that this election is “more important than a person’s precious values” because that is just not so. You, too, are making a judgment based on your values and conscience. You’re choosing him, choosing his presidency. His antipathy to conservatives. His apathy on social values and mores, including the battle for religious and parental conscience and confidence in North Carolina. His embrace of the alt-right. You are putting your vote there.
If you vote for Hillary Clinton, you have done the same thing. You cannot say “I voted against Trump” and be clear of your vote. If you vote for Hillary, you have voted for Hillary. What she does she does with your vote backing her and giving her credibility to do it. Including her Supreme Court picks. Including her foreign policy. Including her abortion stance. Just like with Trump. What she does to the Second Amendment, to religious freedom, to the economy, and to the future of the nation. All of that you vote for if you vote for her.
Sounds pretty awful right? That’s because “lesser of two evils” is not some fantasy rhetorical argument. This is the very real and actual predicament you will face for real when you walk into the booth.
Weigh these seriously. It’s not melodramatic to give grave consideration to serious matters. Take ownership of the consequences of the person you vote for being elected. Only then do you know what your conscience will bear. And when you know, vote accordingly.
For my part, if you feel that you are somehow bound to vote for one of them, then I do not judge you more or less harshly for either choice. They are terrible options. You can’t change that. It’s what you’re faced with, whether you wanted it or not. Nothing to be done about that now.
What I do not want you to do is to walk in there tomorrow and decide to vote as a preventative measure, because you will not prevent anything. Don’t vote because you think you owe it to someone. Don’t pick one of them because people are pressuring you to do so. Vote your conscience, in a real and truthful way.
And if your conscience says do not vote for either of them, then don’t. Proudly and with no regret.
You do not own what others vote for. You own what you vote for. Hold onto that and do what you think is right, whatever it may be. Your country should ask no more than that from your vote.
And when you are done, and when the votes are counted, and when we know the outcome, don’t stop caring. There will be more work to do. And we will do it. Because we are still America right now, and we will still be America tomorrow, and we will still be America the day after that, and the day after that. As long as we Americans keep being Americans.
In the end all I hope for you is that you leave your voting booth tomorrow feeling like you did the thing you believe to be the right thing. Nothing more or less.
… wait actually, there is one more thing. If you live in North Carolina, vote for Pat McCrory. He’s America’s most important Governor, and his fate will tell us about our own over the next four years, even more than the Presidential selection will. Pat McCrory is the firewall. Get out and vote for him, and get people you know to get out and vote for him.
So there. Vote your conscience, and also vote for Pat McCrory.