I’m writing this on the morning of November 8th while flying across the country. I’ll schedule it to post on Wednesday morning when probably a good half of the nation is licking their wounds wondering how in the world we’re going to survive the next four years with him/her as President. I’m pretty sure I won’t be one of them.
I’ve never been heavily involved in politics. In fact, I never really even watched the news.
When I was growing up, my exposure to the goings-on in the world came by way of the nightly national news that usually ran for 30 minutes. My parents, however, usually opted for the 11pm broadcast of the local Washington, DC news. Living near a city like DC meant that we were more often focused on traffic, weather, drugs, and murder.
If I really was looking to gain a global perspective, I might glance at the latest Washington Post that we had delivered most Sundays although, truth be told, I was mostly interested in Walter Scott’s Personality Parade on the inside cover of Parade Magazine.
Yes, I was always a gossip junkie.
Even when school required me to learn about American Civics, I dodged taking a interest in politics as evidenced by my 8th grade Social Studies paper, “Can a Third Party Candidate Become President?”
I cited recent candidates John Anderson in the 1980 election and Jesse Jackson in the 1984 election. The only problem with my paper was that Jesse Jackson did not run as a third party candidate but as a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for President.
The saddest part is that I still got a C on that paper.
In high school, I briefly joined the Young Republicans without even knowing why. In college, I rallied with the liberal Democrats and voted for Bill Clinton.
I got older and wiser and more secure in what I believed. And I began to value the notion that my vote could empower the change I wanted for our government and our country.
As I got even older, I really started to understand and take note of the term “bipartisan.” I saw a Republican President with a Democratic Congress and vice versa. I saw the desires of so many elected officials to further their cause rather than serve the people. And I saw my friends become just as divisive as the politicians they admired.
The more I started learning about politics and reading about the history of our nation, the more I started caring about the direction that our two party system was headed in.
Mitt Romney, who served as the Republican nominee in the last Presidential election, was known as a moderate conservative. Or in the Republican circles, not a real conservative. And so he had to modify his views and tow a more conservative line to rally the support of his party.
Barack Obama, to the dismay of many, has been labeled one of the most liberal President this country has ever seen. And that’s left this country with the biggest gap that gets the least attention: that of the moderate voter.
That’s where the Libertarian party comes in for many of my friends. Often touted as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” it’s a good starting point for the moderate vote. Although I’ve looked at Libertarian candidates in the past, none of them ever had the presence or staying power to catch my attention.
It wasn’t until this year, when I was desperate for an alternative, that I began to more seriously consider a Libertarian candidate. More specifically, I looked at Gary Johnson, former Republican Governor of New Mexico, and Bill Weld, former Republican Governor of Massachusetts.
But, but, but…
Vote for HER! She’s the most qualified candidate ever in history to ever run for President! FALSE: That title goes to George Washington.
Vote for HIM! He’s tired of the political rhetoric and will get things done! FALSE: There’s this whole political system you have to know, understand, and respect in order to make America great.
Both of the major party candidates have admirable accomplishments but arguably both also have deplorable histories. Neither one has shown the type of moral character that I want in the next leader of our country.
What I do believe in is change. And I believe in using my voice to empower change. I believe that there is a place for moderation in American politics.
This year, instead of just backing a candidate, I decided to volunteer as well. I delivered Johnson-Weld signs, donated to the campaign, and shared their messages on social media. My primary goal was not to change anyone’s mind but to show that it’s okay to think outside the status quo.
What I didn’t expect is that I would be ridiculed for such a stance. And I didn’t expect people to laugh at me or accuse me of throwing away my vote with such disdain, from both sides, which is what I got.
In the end, I’ll admit that I wavered. I considered changing my mind or even abstaining altogether. But ultimately, what I really hoped is that my vote will count toward one thing: 5% of the popular vote.
Going into Election Day, Gary Johnson was polling at 4.8%. Is that enough to win the Presidency? Not by a long shot. In fact, I’m sure that by the time you read this you’ll be celebrating or lamenting a Clinton or Trump victory. But if Gary Johnson can garner enough of the popular vote, that could change the future of our political landscape:
If Johnson snags 5 percent of the national popular vote, the Federal Election Commission will classify the Libertarians as an official “minor party,” granting the 2020 nominee a lump sum of cash for the fall campaign, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
My vote may not make a difference in who becomes President for the next 4 years because there’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t have voted for your candidate anyway. But my vote may make a difference for the future that is to come and having the freedom to enact that change is ultimately the most American thing I can do.