“What the fuck? Five percent?” — Reuben Leonard Chrestman III [on his decision to cast his first third party vote]
Politics is rarely a topic of conversation in our family. Any discussion of ideologies or political candidates almost always gives way to more important topics like friends, family, sports or detailed discussions of the various foibles of the members of our clan.
We often discuss Reuben/Dad’s curmudgeonly disposition and complete abhorrence of social interaction. We comment on the irony of Mary Ann/Mom being his polar opposite with her keen interest in people, penchant for asking overly personal questions of complete strangers and subsequent inability to hear their answers. We all overtly and covertly revel in relentlessly pestering Sarah/Wife just to illicit what is, 99 percent of the time, a hilariously angry outburst.
But politics is usually left alone because we all fall on different segments of the ideological spectrum, and the rare political discussions usually involve some ridiculous comments, some eye rolling and quickly changing the subject. Moreover, no one ever listens to me or generally takes me seriously in the first place.
So it was with utter surprise that I got a phone call from Reuben immediately after voting. “Your mom and I followed your advice and voted for that third party guy [Gary Johnson].” He sounded genuinely excited about his vote, like he was part of the revolution that would soon gain traction.
That excitement quickly faded, however, as we decided to grace him with our unsolicited presence to watch the election night coverage, ruining his planned evening of peace, quiet and freedom from hearing the drivel of talking heads.
“That guy’s an asshole. He doesn’t know shit,” he said of NBC’s Chuck Todd, one of many political pundits that made fools of themselves Tuesday night as their prognostications and polls proved that they do not, in fact, know shit.
“Yeah, Chuck Todd also looks like he exclusively wears tighty whities,” I added.
“That’s just weird,” my wife Sarah observed.
Reuben’s depression became more palpable as the night wore on not just as it became apparent that Donald Trump would be our next President, but also he began to see how meaningless his third party vote seemed to be.
As polling in one state showed a third party candidate with an unusually high five percent of the vote, that was noteworthy enough to get a mention. Reuben, however, was not impressed.
“What the fuck? Five percent,” he asked me angrily as if I needed to explain. “That’s the last time I follow your advice, ass hole.”
True, I am an ass hole, and you’d probably do well to generally not follow my advice. And while I may have lost Reuben, I stand by my decision to vote third party. Here is why:
- That’s how a democracy is supposed to work: I believe that in our free, democratic society, you should not only vote, but vote for whomever you want to vote for. It is that simple. You shouldn’t feel obligated to vote for candidate (a) even if you happen to like candidate (b) better but are afraid of wasting your vote because candidate (b) has no statistical chance of winning. That may be true right now when third party candidates have stood no real chance of winning any presidential election, but who cares? That mentality of not wanting to “waste” your vote and, as a result, feeling pressured into voting for someone you do not like as much just because they are the Republican or Democratic party’s nominee is bullshit. I poop on that idea.
- There’s no such thing as wasting your vote: And speaking of ideas I like to poop on, the idea of wasting your vote is stupid. Actually, not voting would be wasting your vote, and to the 49 percent of eligible voters that did not bother, I hope you had a legitimate excuse. If not, take a knee and punch yourself in the face. I have a theory about this year’s election that there are a substantial number of Americans that, in their heart of hearts, liked someone else on the ballot better than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. But because they felt like they would be wasting their votes, they held their noses and voted for one of the two of them that they hated less. That’s bullshit, and as long as people keep doing that, the status quo will continue.
- The Democratic and Republican parties are a joke. The party nominations over the last several presidential election cycles have gone, in my opinion, from bad to worse with this year taking the cake. One party’s nominee committed an offense that would have gotten anyone serving in the military discharged had they committed that same offense. Yet, she suffered no repercussions in the ultimate shit sandwich of political elitism, double standards and hypocrisy. The other nominee and now president-elect is a pathologically lying, narcissistic turd who looks like a spray-tanned scrotum with a bad combover that has divided this country even further at a time when we really need it to come together.
So you can be like Reuben and dismiss my sage, political advice. Or, if you are like most Americans I talk to, you are also completely fed up with the Democratic and Republican parties. To you, I say, during the next election, vote for whomever you want to vote for with no considerations of wasted votes, which candidate that stands the most chance of winning, or any other bullshit. Just vote for whomever you want to vote for. If that’s the Democratic or Republican nominee, fine, although for many of you I bet it won’t be. Heed my advice, all of you, and maybe, just maybe a legitimate contender who is not the Republican or Democratic party’s nominee will emerge. And you will have me to thank for essentially saving our republic.
I will end this rare, political rant on a positive note. As I dropped off my two-year-old daughter at school the morning after the election, we were having an in-depth discussion of her favorite color, which shifts with the direction of the wind. But on this particular morning, she quickly informed me that her favorite color was purple without taking her usual moments of deep thought before answering the question. Someone later pointed out that purple is the combination of red and blue which, to me, was earth shattering. Amelia was clearly making a political statement that now, more than ever, we as Americans must come together.
I would adopt this poignant observation as my own. I would assign much deeper meaning to what my daughter told me and paint her as a pants-shitting, booger-eating little Confucius. I couldn’t wait to tell my wife. She would be so impressed not only with the wise counsel from our two-year-old but also with my ability to correctly discern the undertones and sub-text of her statement.
Me: When I dropped off Amelia at school today, I asked her what her favorite color was, and do you know what she told me?
Me: Purple. Do you know why that’s significant?
Sarah: Yeah, it’s the mixture of red and blue. That’s why I wore purple today along with most people at the office. Everyone knows that. Dumb ass.
Yep. She was impressed.