The 2016 Presidential Election is upon us. The three presidential debates are over. It is time to make a decision.
Never before have I expended so much energy in making a decision about my vote. Faced with two very flawed candidates from the two major parties the decision is more difficult, and the ramifications more profound than in previous elections. Simple impulses to vote for the person one dislikes least or because a historical barrier will be broken are not adequate in this election.
I believe that the greatest threat to our nation at this point in its history is consolidated power.
Powerful moneyed elites and international corporations drive choices, two parties entrenched in power for 160 years are beholden to them and completely disconnected from the common citizen, federal Executive powers expand unchecked, a massive entrenched bureaucracy has become a power unto itself, corporate media is the handmaiden of powerful interests rather than the watchdog, and digital-age companies are unchecked as they increase power greater than the industrialists and financiers of the Robber Baron era of the late 19th Century.
For me, this election is about the disruption of consolidated power.
I began an initiative last year and put significant effort into stopping a continuation of the Bush and Clinton dynasties. My No Bush Clinton 2016 campaign was based on the premise that growing concentration of power in the Executive Branch of the federal government must be stopped.
Consolidating presidential power further by limiting choice to two families is a major threat to the republic and the interests of its citizens. The Bushes are finished. Hillary Clinton, historically entrenched in this distorted system, is the least likely to confront it. I will not vote for her.
This leaves me two options: 1) vote for Donald Trump or 2) vote for a 3rd party candidate.
The most effective way to disrupt the consolidation of power is to disconnect the two major parties from the Presidency for at least one term. My objective is to throw the election to the House of Representatives and Senate under the Twelfth Amendment. My vote will be calculated to aid that goal.
In that context it is important to change one’s perspective on voting from national to state specific to maximize its value within the Electoral College system.
The Electoral College elects the president. There are 538 Electors and a majority of 270 of their votes are required to win the election. If no candidate wins a majority the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution kicks in and the three candidates with the highest number of Electoral College votes are considered by the incoming House of Representatives in January. There, each state gets one vote to elect the president.
The Vice President is selected by the Senate, but only the top two Electoral College vote getters are considered.
The pool of potential candidates from which I can chose include those on the ballot and write-in candidates. Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) and Jill Stein (Green Party) are on the ballot. There are also a great number of eligible write-in candidates who have filed a Federal Elections Commission Form 2. Of those, one in particular interests me - Evan McMullin.
I will vote for McMullin because he is the candidate with the greatest potential to disrupt the two major parties’ hold on the political system because he has a strategy to win Electoral votes. Johnson and Stein are engaged in a popularity contest rather than a serious effort to win Electoral College votes. You have to win states to do that, not just come in third or fourth in every state.
McMullin’s campaign strategy is specifically to win the Electoral College votes of one or more states and he is having some success. He leads Clinton and Trump in Utah and has a growing following in some other Western states. If the contest between the two major party candidates results in neither gaining a majority of 270 electoral votes the election will go to the House of Representatives and Mr.
McMullin will be included in the consideration.
The probability that the Twelfth Amendment will be invoked is extremely low. If it fails, but a significant portion of the population votes this way, there are worthwhile secondary effects:
1. Convey to the two major parties that they are on the wrong track
2. Diminish the power of the two major parties
3. Increase the power of other parties to expand the conversation in future elections
4. Diminish any sense of a “mandate” the winner of the election might hope to declare
My vote is also influenced by the state I vote in – Massachusetts. Sixty percent of voters live in non-competitive states. In these 34 states the Electoral College votes are pre-determined because the states are so overwhelmingly “Red” or “Blue” (e.g. Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Oklahoma, Idaho, Kansas). For the minority-Red voter in a Blue state or the minority-Blue voter in a Red state the vote they cast will make no difference in the Electoral votes of those states or the election outcome.
Therefore, though my 3rd party strategy to invoke the Twelfth Amendment is very unlikely to work, I have the luxury of voting this way because, frankly, any other vote I take will have no direct impact in the uncompetitive state of Massachusetts.
For those in more competitive states this is not the case. Their votes have a much more direct impact on the outcome. Frankly, the decision they make is more important than the decision I make. My recommendation to those voters is that they consider what I say here and cast their vote in a manner most likely to disrupt consolidated power.