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Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Vote Your Conscience

NATHAN J. ROBINSON:  Well see, this is the thing, is I think this has a very strange and sort of romantic conception of what voting is, where voting is the way that we express our innermost identities and we declare who we are and what we stand for. I don’t think of voting that way. I think of voting as something that you do five minutes one day of the year and that most political action and most expression of your moral convictions should occur elsewhere, in other realms. Voting is just about the consequences.  --On the Media

Vote your conscience” is a phrase used off and on for those ambivalent about voting for Donald Trump, and it's a versatile phrase, used with both bravery and desperation. At the Republican National Convention, defeated contender Senator Ted Cruz delivered a prime-time speech in which he failed to endorse Trump, instead inviting the delegates in attendance—and, of course, the viewers at home—to vote their conscience.

#NeverTrump started the push for conscience-voting just a week or so before Cruz took the stage, and not long after Cruz's speech, #NeverTrump dropped into the distant zeitgeist, a present but hardly dominant force to make sure Trump would never sit in the Oval Office.

There are those on the Right still hopeful that someone will wake them from the Nostradamus fever dream that is November 8th.

“Vote your conscience.”

Fun fact about the word 'conscience': the way I learned how to spell the word was to spell 'con' and then 'science.'

Voting one's conscience is a standard call every election cycle. And it is a con of science, really, if you think voting is about conscience. If one votes their conscience, they're giving up fundamental ideas about collective wholes. They are ignoring certain obvious truths in deference to Randian absolutes. To vote one's conscience is to vote one's desires, and the voting booth is no place for wish fulfillment. It is a place where one looks practicality in the face, and makes the best choice.

And there's a fun thing about this election: if Republicans reluctant to vote for Trump are encouraging a vote of confidence this year , #NeverTrump2016!, then Democrats are certainly arguing about the #PracticalVote.

Hillary Clinton is not a popular choice on the Left. She's a practical choice, certainly, but not a conscience-affirming vote. She comes with baggage both real and imagined. And she came out of a primary where a socialist came close to beating her. Eugene V. Debs would be proud of Bernie Sanders.

No mind about that. What matters is that on the right you have Voting Conscience, and on the left you have Practicality.

You have Trump or #NeverTrump, and you have Clinton or... Trump.

If you like Trump, you support overturning Obergefell v. Hodges. Which is definitely a vote of conning science.

If you like Trump, you're ignorant of actual science.

If you like, support, or in any way think Trump is right, you are ignoring economists, sociologists, geologists, and other -ists. So by all means, con science.

There are so many practical reasons—hashtag Practical—not to vote for Trump, I am amazed people still consider him a viable candidate.

True story: Six or so years ago, my husband Greg lamented his vote. “President Obama is not doing anything,” he said. “I voted for him and he hasn't done anything.”

“Did you read the article about how Mitch McConnell held a meeting the night of the inauguration?”

“Yes, but so what? Obama should fight.”

“This isn't politics anymore. This is a long game.”

Clinton has learned from the best, is what I'm saying. Over eight years, despite rabid obstruction, President Obama has gotten a good bit of his agenda done. And he even beat the Clintons in 2008. And he did it without conning science. He did it by being practical.

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