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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Election day torment

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-a1ac7776-5458-7177-f6df-7e1b4b69241b">On Tuesday night, I shared in the agony and fear that gripped almost all of us on this campus. When I first sat down in Sayles, I was fairly comfortable with my idea of how the night would go. I expected the outcome to be close, but in the end Secretary Clinton would clinch on to victory and begin her work as President-elect. I was sure that I would be on my way back to Evans at around 10:30pm or so. Instead, I remained glued to my seat until the early hours of the morning, trying to make some sense out of what was unfolding before me. Where did it all go wrong?

Before I go on, it’s important to disclose one crucial truth about myself; I voted for a third party candidate on Tuesday. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, and I internally deliberated upon my choice up until the moment I completed my ballot. Those who know me are aware that my political beliefs are complicated and at times confusing, but I am generally classified by both myself and my friends as a conservative-leaning libertarian. Therefore, from the moment that Donald Trump officially became the nominee of the Republican Party, I knew that the national election would inevitably disappoint me one way or another. Gary Johnson, the man who I ultimately gave my vote to, was no real consolation. His gaffes and evident ignorance of foreign policy issues embarrassed me, and made my decision to support him much harder than I ever thought. Still, I felt that Johnson and Weld shared enough of my principles on the importance of individual liberty that to vote for them was to vote for my conscience and convictions.

I felt slightly more at ease with my decision because I viewed Minnesota as an easy victory for Hillary Clinton. If I lived in a crucial battleground state, I told myself, then I would’ve made a different choice. It was rationalization in the clearest sense, and it was a rationalization that I began regretting when it became clearer that this state was going to be much more contested than anyone initially thought. I started feeling guilty, mortified that somehow I had contributed to the victory of that disgusting, shameless man. Sitting directly across from me was a close friend of mine who had worked tirelessly for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and the expressions of sorrow and frustration only added to my fears. He knew for whom I had voted, and he reassured me that he respected my decision and that he was sure I made the right choice for myself. Yet, I wanted to apologize to him, to let him know that if I had been endowed with the gift of clairvoyance then I would’ve acted differently.

Wednesday morning, as I browsed political publications and Facebook newsfeeds, I was confronted with overall negative feelings towards those of us who voted for third-party candidates, particularly in states like Florida. We were viewed partially as villains in this tale, as those whose short-sighted discontent contributed to Trump’s victory by not swallowing their pride and voting for Clinton. I understand the sentiment, and I know that I myself was beginning to feel that way on Tuesday night. Now, however, I don’t believe that that guilt is consequentially important in any way. Perhaps this is more rationalization, but the majority of individuals who voted for third-party candidates would’ve simply refused to vote at all had those options not existed, if polls can still be trusted. As disappointing and hurtful as electoral results can be, it would be a shame if we didn’t allow for the voice of those discontent with the two-party system from being expressed through the voice of the ballot. Making sure all of us have a say in our processes should be the goal of our democracy.

For all of her faults and all of the differences in philosophy between her and I, I acknowledge that Hillary Clinton has the character and experience to make a fine president, to be a representative of my country that I could still be proud of. The same can obviously not be said about our President-elect, a man that brings shame upon me and others who used to believe that the Republican Party could one day be changed from within, that there would be a time when the party abandoned its bigots and its extremists and instead focused on creating a prosperous and free society for everyone regardless of religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation and identification. It appears that such a time may in fact never come, and that the party of Ronald Reagan’s optimism and hope is now relegated to historical fantasy.

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