As one of the first people to declare that I would never vote for Donald Trump, I am constantly barraged by people telling me there are only two choices in the presidential election. One of them is Donald Trump and the other is Hillary Clinton.
When reminded the election is not a binary choice and other candidates are available, I am almost always met with, “But none of those other candidates can win! Why would you waste a vote?” It is this mindset that reveals a total of lack of understanding of why we vote in the United States.
It may sound pedantic to some, but the reality is, we do not live in a democracy. We live in a representative republic. We vote for people to represent us in public office. How long they serve, outside of term limits, is determined by the voters. When there is change, it results from people looking at the incumbent and determining, “This person doesn’t represent me in a satisfactory way. I am going to vote for somebody else.” Whether this is in a primary election or general election is dependent upon a number of factors.
Primaries bring about their own challenges but it is still a representative voting. “Who do I feel will best represent me in general election campaign?” Some people look down upon waging primary campaigns against incumbent office holders citing concerns about utilizing resources against a person in the same party instead of saving it for the race against the opposition. I disagree. Primaries are healthy. They are a means of telling an incumbent, “We’re not happy with your performance.” There is risk. If the primary opponent is a measured, principled candidate who will fare just as well, or perhaps better than the incumbent, all the better. A perfect example is Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and his primary challenge to then Republican Senator, Arlen Specter. On the other side of the coin is Christine O’Donnell. While she won her primary against Mike Castle, was soundly defeated in the general election.
Still, despite the loss, more Republicans n Delaware voted for O’Donnell than Castle because that is who they believed (at the time) would better represent them, despite her chances of success in a general election campaign being very low.
As for the Presidential race, I am not going to vote for Donald Trump because he does not represent me at all. On the other hand, neither does Hillary Clinton. That one of these two will likely be President in 2017 is not a factor in determining who I do vote for.
Voting is a matter of conscience, just as Ted Cruz said at the GOP convention. “Only Trump or Hillary can win so any other vote is wasted!” is an absurd thing to say. If people who support Trump were so concerned about having a candidate that could beat Hillary, they should have looked at candidates other than Trump.
A candidate has to earn votes. Donald Trump is not deserving of my vote any more than Hillary Clinton merely because Trump is the GOP nominee. I am a proud Republican but my vote is not dictated by the party or its nominee. My vote will go to the person who best represents me and if that is a candidate outside the Republican Party so be it.
For those who say, “But that is only going to help Hillary!”, I have some advice for you. Go tell that to the 14 million people who believed Trump would best represent them in a general election campaign.