Most everywhere you go people repeat a familiar refrain. They can’t vote for Trump and don’t like Hillary, or vice versa. These are the two most unpopular presidential candidates since they started these polls. What’s a voter to do?
Most of us who faithfully vote will testify that in past elections it was easier for them to choose one candidate over another but the latest polls results show 55 percent don’t like Hillary Clinton and 59 percent don’t like Trump. For these voters there are three options.
Should we consider voting for the Libertarian or Green Party candidate? This has some appeal because it would send a message to both political parties that we don’t like either the process or the candidate chosen to represent them. Many remember the 1992 campaign when Ross Perot was the third-party candidate running against an incumbent George Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton. Perot poured millions of dollars of his personal fortune into the campaign, only managing to get 19 percent of the popular vote. He supposedly took votes equally from the two party nominees, however many Republicans believe Perot was the nail in the coffin for Bush and helped propel Clinton to the White House.
Recent polls show Libertarian Gary Johnson has about 12 percent of those who say they will vote. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has significantly less. Neither will likely quality to appear in the presidential debates. Some political pundits are saying a vote for either would likely do the most damage to Donald Trump, propelling another Clinton to victory. Whether true or not there is one inescapable truth: Stein and Johnson have as much chance of winning the presidency as the City of Charlotte has of hosting the NBA All-Star game. They are wasted votes.
This thought process leads many to say they will just stay home and not vote or perhaps just vote in statewide races. Either option just feels bad. Failing to vote is little different from not being able to vote. Choosing a President may be hard this year, but staying home guarantees we are the losers.
Options one and two clearly are not desirable, leading many to the third response of holding our collective noses and selecting the presidential nominee we dislike least. This appears to be the choice many disgruntled voters will make.
This has been the strangest election cycle any of us has ever witnessed. Just when you think things might settle down another unsettling revelation or event throws the election into more chaos. With 17 weeks before the November 8th election we will no doubt learn much more before having to make a final decision.
We respectfully offer the following advice: Pay attention. Listen to what the candidates hope to accomplish, not what they say about their opponent. One of the nominees will rise to distinguish or even disqualify themselves. Don’t be swayed by friends, the media, business associates, the parties or rogue independent expenditure groups. Make up your own mind.
Democracy isn’t easy. History demonstrates we’ve made some good and some not so good choices, but we’ve fought for the right to choose our leaders. Regardless of the outcome we will once have this opportunity four years from now.
Tom Campbell is the Executive Producer and Moderator of N.C. Spin.