Unlike any major candidate in generations, Donald Trump is temperamentally, emotionally, and intellectually unfit to be President of the United States. He would be an embarrassment and, more importantly, present far too high a risk of precipitating an economic, social, or military catastrophe.
If you disagree with that assessment, this post is not for you. It won’t persuade you of anything. Though I reserve the right to try to persuade you at some point before the election (and I hope you feel the same about me).
But assuming you agree with the lunacy of a President Trump, you are left with four options:
Vote for Hillary Clinton
Vote for Gary Johnson - Libertarian party
Vote for Jill Stein - Green party
Even among those who would never vote for Trump, I’m increasingly hearing things like:
I hate Trump, but Hillary is just as bad.
We have two terrible options this time.
One is a liar and one is an idiot, so I’m voting for a third party.
I cannot state it emphatically enough: Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, under no reasonable assessment is she “just as bad” as Donald Trump.
The demonizing of Clinton reached a peak this week with the Republican convention acting as round-the-clock infomercial promoting the Lucifer-like qualities of Hillary. If a stupendous claim is made enough times, many will believe it―the truth is pliable. Clinton is far from a saint, but the truth about her record bears little resemblance to what Trump allies scream.
Hillary Clinton served as First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. She received impressive plaudits for her policy acumen, preparation, and willingness to collaborate. Just take the word of many Republicans:
“I know Hillary, and I think she’d make a great President.” - Donald Trump, 2008
“Clinton is an intelligent, hard-working professional....the best single choice that President Obama has made [as Secretary of State].” - Newt Gingrich, 2009
“I think she’s done a fine job [as Secretary of State]. The problem isn’t Hillary Clinton, who’s great.” - Condoleeza Rice, 2013
“Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy.” - Jeb Bush, 2013
“She’s a policy genius.” - Mike Huckabee, 2014
“I know her. I like her. I’ve worked with her.” - John Kasich, 2015
“She’d make a tremendous President. [...] She was extraordinarily resolute, determined and controlled in the wake of the [Benghazi] attack.” - General David Petraeus, 2014
Hillary’s political opponents believe that she is highly capable―except when they are trying to beat her in an election. Then she is evil.
There is no reason to apologize for supporting Hillary or hedge your bets by saying that both candidates are equally terrible. But, I understand that you may have deep philosophical differences with Clinton and are considering voting for a third party. Please think very hard before actually doing that.
I support third parties and have voted for a few. But this is not the election to cast a presidential vote that way.
The latest polls have the race as a dead heat, with anywhere from 10-20 percent of voters undecided or thinking about a third party vote.
A swing of even 1-2 percent of third party voters to Trump or Clinton may decide the election.
Clinton’s share of the vote almost always drops in polls where third parties are included―third party candidates are hurting her more than Trump.
Gary Johnson will not be elected President. Jill Stein will not be elected President.
The genuine growth of a third party will be based on actually winning elections at the lower levels and building a base of support locally. Random performance in presidential elections is not the crux of the effort.
Very marginally indicating support for a third party candidate’s agenda is far less important than adding your weight to prevent President Trump. This year is not normal.
The most important outcome in this presidential election is that Donald Trump not become the Most Powerful Person on the Planet. I am not a fatalist. I will not move to Canada if Trump wins. But if this Republican National Convention has taught me anything, it is that I’d forever regret not doing everything in my power to prevent the party of Abraham Lincoln from being smothered into oblivion by a Donald Trump presidency.
This post originally appeared on paulalanrichardson.com.