If it’s got to be the lesser of two evils, make it your kind of evil

The arguments against third-party candidates usually miss a bigger point, one that is particularly clear this year: don’t we need to start doing something differently if people would rather vote for a candidate who has no statistical hope of winning over either of the two major candidates?

The answer is yes. But Nov. 8, 2016 is not going to be the day that happens. Neither Green Party candidate Jill Stein nor Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson will do that for us, so the answer then is which candidate will you either directly or indirectly vote for?

“The lesser of two evils is still evil.” True, but wouldn’t you rather choose your evil?

Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will become our next president. Both are flawed, but in strikingly different ways, which makes the consequences of their flaws different.

Many people believe Clinton reinforces the status quo of untrustworthy, shady big government. Others find Trump offensive and grossly unqualified to be president. He has alienated political allies and his volatile temperament makes him a worrisome candidate for military and diplomatic issues. On the other hand, Clinton is arguably much politically smarter, which makes her potentially even more dangerous.

She has amassed thirty years worth of power and connections in politics, which to some people means she won’t be held accountable for any of her actions. To others, thirty years means competence and experience, rather than corruption and cronyism.

Regardless of their character, both hold completely different positions on issues. If you care about immigration, guns, health-care, foreign affairs, trade or any number of issues, you should have a vested interest in either Clinton or Trump becoming president because odds are, one of their positions is much closer to yours.

The word “evil” doesn’t really come to mind for third-party candidates Stein or Johnson, but a few others might.

Johnson didn’t know what Aleppo was. It’s the center of the most horrifying humanitarian crisis we’ve experienced in the last 50 years. The Syrian government is gassing babies while hospitals overflow with civilians. The military and political situation is extremely complicated, and the U.S. is expected to play a vital role in what is happening. He doesn’t know what Aleppo is? How is that morally defensible?

Jill Stein has proven time and again she won’t propose realistic legislation. She lacks a basic fundamental understanding of government, legislation and respect for the very system, which she is asking to be put in charge of.

There was a point when I never thought I would vote for Clinton. I felt cheated by the Democratic primary; my heart broke for the 74-year-old progressive candidate I felt was the most moral politician we would ever see.

Then I watched as Bernie Sanders endorsed Clinton and consistently moved her platform further and further to the left. Sanders did a noble thing – he risked his own reputation and pride and asked his supporters to set aside their own personal feelings to support Clinton. He did so because he knew working with Clinton was his best chance at having a substantial impact on her platform.

If Bernie supporters write-in Sanders, what kind of appreciation is that? It’s like buying someone the birthday gift you think they need, instead of what they asked for. If Clinton loses the election because Sanders supporters wrote him in, Sanders will be remembered in history as a spoiler.

It can feel condescending when everyone starts to tell you what they learned in seventh-grade social studies, “Third party votes are wasted votes and you’re just letting the other candidate win.”

It’s not a wasted vote; it is a principled, earnest vote for the candidate you truly believe is the most fitting. But with a Supreme Court Justice nomination, the future of the environment, race relations, trade and international affairs at stake, just think for a moment if your efforts could be better spent protesting in a different way.

Sarah Crowley is the assistant news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com. Follow her on Twitter at @crowleyspectrum