Gary Johnson? Jill Stein? What The Hell Is Wrong With You?

If you want to ruin a perfectly nice post-debate gloat, read the Times story about young voters supporting Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. The relatively large number of young voters in those camps is the last remaining obstacle to the demise of Trump. And it's awful.

The factions in this melange are of varying degrees of culpability.

The least off-putting are those with a deep ideological commitment to a third-party. Ideas and conscience are to be respected, even if a hard-headed calculus teaches otherwise.

Next are the "send-a-message" folks. “You only get one chance every four years to send an actual message to the executive branch,” says a Stein voter. A message? To whom? About what? Voting isn't texting. It's a power choice, about who you wish to grant enormous power over your life. "My life won't change no matter who is president," opines a Johnson voter. Really? Even if you're undocumented, or need an abortion?

The worst are the "They're-Both-The-Same" folks especially the Sandernistas, who share a clear social and political perspective. THEY ARE NOT BOTH THE SAME. By philosophy, Trump is a climate-change denying, supply-side, anti-choice reactionary. Hillary is a moderate progressive. By temperament Trump is abusive, erratic, misogynist and clinically out of control. Hillary is a stable, intelligent and a skilled politician. Ethically, they both have a lot to explain and it's a problem. But it's dispositive only if you ignore ideology and temperament.

What's absent here is a sense of consequence. Voting is only partially an exercise in spiritual self-realization, or anger and disgust. It's a choice about real life. I spent three weeks lawyering for Al Gore in Florida and all else aside. Ralph Nader swung that election to Bush. And there were consequences in Iraq, in the financial meltdown/Great Recession, everywhere. Real consequences.

It may be a little unfair to pick on younger voters about this. After all, as a group they're way ahead of senior citizens in their opposition to Trump. But it gets bumpy when you hear "“As a straight white male, it’s not likely that Donald Trump’s policies would hurt me too much personally — but all of my friends who are women, African-American, Hispanic, LGBT, etc. — I would feel awful for them.” Why, thanks. What's it like up there in the safety of the castle?

The formerly young playwright David Mamet had the right insight. "Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance." We are in an election like no other, solely because of Trump. Prove Mamet wrong.

Don't let youth and exuberance lead us to a looming disaster.