Putting the “Bust” Back into “Bernie or Bust”

By | 10/24/2016 Leave a Comment

Let’s be perfectly honest about this election: whichever of the two most loathed candidates in modern political history wins the presidency it’s only going to be a one term (or)deal.

Hillary Clinton, through a mixture of luck (hers, not ours) and chicanery, managed to squeak through to claim/rob her party’s nomination and now looks poised to move back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But those stars won’t ever align the same way again, and after four years of hawkish foreign policy, pandering to her corporate sponsors, and a trickle of “incremental change” (i.e. no change), she’ll be chopped liver.

That’s assuming, of course, that her significant health issues enable her to even make it that far. And if anyone imagines that to be just another wacko internet conspiracy theory, they really need to dig a little deeper and start connecting all of those dots out there.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is perhaps the ultimate wild card. He’s supported and funded politicians from both the right and the left during his business career, and will brazenly switch positions on major issues at whiplash-inducing speed. What four years of President Don – were he to miraculously manage to reverse his current polling and emerge victorious – is anyone’s guess. But it’s probably safe to say that it would be controversial, tumultuous and have most of the voting public reaching for a fistful of Xanax by the time 2020 rolled around.

In fairness, to those who might argue that Trump doesn’t have enough intellectual horsepower or worldly knowledge to assume the presidency, let’s not forget that this country elected George W. Bush as leader of the free world…twice. That would the same man behind the following classic quotes:

“It was not a war against Islam or the country of Islamia.”

“More and more of our imports are coming from overseas.”

“Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.”

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

That, of course, is not to excuse Trump of anything. It’s merely to illustrate that we somehow survived eight years with a dangerously ill-informed sock puppet in the Oval Office without the sky falling in, so one term of the unthinkable happening might also prove survivable, prior to the electorate uttering the ultimate two-word dismissal (no, not that one)…you’re fired!

Of course, there’s always the option to vote for one of the third party candidates, such as Jill Stein or Gary “Aleppo” Johnson, both of which would represent respectable, conscientious options for voters whose politics aligned with theirs. But, like it or not, neither of these single-digit-polling candidates are going to be the next president of the United States. While a vote for either may satiate a desire to make a principled choice, ultimately it will have no effect on the outcome of the race – other than perhaps to tip the balance in favor of one major party candidate over the other in some of the tighter battleground states.

There’s also the option of writing Bernie Sanders in on your ballot paper in the few states that allow it. But again, that would constitute an honorable, self-respecting gesture that had little or no meaning save for the personal satisfaction afforded to the individuals doing so. When Bernie was stiffed of the nomination, the country lost the only moral, ethical candidate with a real shot at the presidency this year. But as sad – nay, tragic – as that may be, writing him in at this point in time would be the voting equivalent of putting a message in a bottle.

So if a third party candidate isn’t ringing your bell, and you’re finding it impossible to distinguish any meaningful degree of “lesser” between the two major party evils, perhaps it’s time to write this election off as a bust and skip it altogether.

Doubtless there are many who would raise their arms (and voices, and social media accounts) up in horror at the very suggestion of not casting a ballot. “But it’s your democratic responsibility!” they’ll cry, quivering and aghast, so soon forgetting how fast and loose the rules of the democratic process were played during the primaries. Back then, “democratic responsibility” was was a relative term, and with regard to the shamelessly undemocratic DNC, it still is.

“But if you don’t vote for candidate X, you’re letting candidate Y win!” they’ll hiss, with shaming, accusatory glares. But if your olfactory glands judge both candidates to stink worse than week-old fish, why should you care?

Yes, voting is a right, a privilege, and an important personal statement…and so is abstention.

The upshot:

This election season has been nothing short of extraordinary. From the truly bizarre to the downright corrupt, we’ve seen our democracy turned on its head and put through the wringer, and at the end of it all we’ve been given a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.

So perhaps – just for this anomaly of an election – choosing to wash one’s hands of the whole sorry business isn’t such a bad idea. Whomever you do or don’t vote for, the fact is that one of those two lamentable options will end up in the White House. But perhaps in taking yourself out of the equation just this once, you’ll be able to wake up on November 9th with a clear conscience and the knowledge that whatever fiasco unfolds over the next four years was none of your doing.

Roll on 2020.

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