I have a political opinion.

So I know that the election is over and everyone is sick of hearing about it and that you are only reading this because you have literally NOTHING else to read. But I have a small observation that I just want to flesh out here, on my blog.

Yesterday I read a lot of comments on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs about voting. I’m grateful that I surround myself with people who care and who go out to the polls. I’m not so grateful for people who conflate their political ideologies with their religious beliefs and who insult others who don’t agree with them. It’s never nice to blatantly insult people, especially people who you call your “friend,” but that’s another topic for another post. Several people who I think really highly of talked yesterday about how they voted for third party candidates. I admired them before they said they did so, and today I admire them more. On all their posts, status updates, and tweets, they were civil and kind. They were thought-out and reasonable. And on all of their posts, there were not a lot of comments, and the comments that were there were also civil, kind, thought-out, and reasonable – whether they agreed with the voter or not.

I don’t know why, per se, there weren’t a lot of comments. It may just be that not a lot of people were online at the time and didn’t see the posts (although I highly, highly doubt this). But I will venture a guess and say that there weren’t a lot of comments because people don’t see third party candidates as substantial and completely worthy of their attention. A lot of the attention they get is patronizing, at best. People only get fired up about third party candidates when they threaten the dominance of the other two parties. This is unfortunate because, like I said, most of the people I know who vote third party are extremely wise and thoughtful and measured in their views. They think for themselves and aren’t persuaded by the polarizing¬†cacophony that often (I repeat, OFTEN – not always) results from the two-party system.

Is this my straight-up endorsement of voting third party? No. I will never endorse any particular political party on my blog because to me, it’s just not worth it. Politics are not my thing and I can’t really converse in such a way that I can hold my own. Did I vote for a third party candidate? Not that it’s any of your business, but no, I didn’t. And I have a really lame excuse for not doing so: I have a baby, and while everyone was complaining that this election season seemed like it went on FOREVER, I felt like it went by in the blink of an eye because I’ve been a little preoccupied with my child’s first months. I didn’t have a tremendous amount of time or energy to devote to researching candidates and being a completely informed voter. So yeah, I know I’m kind of a hypocrite in this respect.

All I’m saying is that we could all learn a lesson from the third-party voters I observed yesterday who were careful, measured, and informed. They were thoughtful in the way that they conveyed their political views and didn’t dump all over the other two parties who were far more popular than they are. I sincerely hope some day that the electorate will emulate them in these aspects.

Again, let me just reiterate that this is not a typical post for me. I wrote it in literally 30 minutes – which is far less time than I ever devote to other posts – with one eye on my crawling baby while I wrote it. Now go read the other post I wrote today about her. She’s way cute.

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47 comments

  1. That doesn’t sound like a very lame reason at all. This is nice. I think I’m the only one of my friends that did go third party, so it’s nice to hear about others doing so also.

    1. Thanks, BroJo. I think next time, It’s people like you that make my Facebook and blogging experience not a mindless pit of mean.

      1. No problem. I like the hand “do not show in my feed” function and the “unsubscribe” thingy. I’ve had to do that with a few people. Thank you too.

  2. I like when people are kind and go against the norm and just listen to their heart. It’s not easy to make a choice that others wouldn’t see as normal. I read that 4,800 people in the US went to the polls just to write in that they weren’t voting for either candidate. They literally stood in line to say that they weren’t happy with the selections. There’s something admirable about that. Not settling for any old choice.

    1. That’s really interesting that people did that. I remember in 2004 when it was Bush Vs. Kerry, people talked a lot about how it was hard to make a decision between the two options because they didn’t like either. Even though this year was different in a lot of ways, it seems like voters weren’t pleased with the two big-party options available to them.

    2. As much as I’ve heard about the election today, I hadn’t heard this. And I think a lot of people weren’t necessarily thrilled with either choice… which in a perfect world would mean more people started exploring third party options. Unfortunately, most people feel like they’re throwing away their vote when they vote third party, not necessarily thinking about the fact that their political parties should (at least, in theory) be constantly evolving to better suit needs.

  3. Thanks for this, Emily. Yesterday was completely bittersweet for me (and you’re right, there weren’t many comments or views), but… [shrug]

    1. I didn’t even realize that you posted a second time yesterday about this exact issue! But yeah, it’s a bittersweet thing.

      1. Oh, um. That second post was actually this morning when I got up. I had a hard time sleeping last night.

  4. I’m a ‘just vote’ kind of woman – thanks for the wise and calm posting… I did write about the election coverage – but mostly b/c I was horrified by a clothing faux pas that made me uneasy :)

    1. I read your piece and let me just say that I LOVED it! Going to leave a comment tonight after I put C to bed (that’s when I usually respond to other bloggers’ posts.)

      1. Aw thanks ~ What, you can’t write with a mobile 7 month baby trying to hurl herself over various sharp ledges??

  5. I love, love, love politics. If I could vote every day, I would. That said, I think the two-party system is showing serious cracks, particularly on the right. I’m not sure how it will play out, though. I’ve been watching what’s happening in the generation following yours, which includes my son. I see a real exhaustion with the black and white polarization of political discourse. Many young people believe the answers need to be found in the gray areas. The problem, to me, is that there aren’t a whole lot of voters yet who are comfortable with gray. Looking forward to a day when there are and hoping I’m not senile when it happens.

    1. Very, very well-said. Voting shouldn’t be like going to the Gap and just picking a shirt off the wrack and hoping that it fits. For me, the large is too small and the extra large is too big, so I shouldn’t have to choose one knowing that it still won’t fit me properly. It’s true for people, and it’s super true for countries. The answers are in the gray areas.

  6. It’s not just people that vote for 3rd parties that can be civil. I’ve had some conversations with other bloggers whose opinions differ from mine, and both sides have found the conversations good,without degenerating into rhetoric or insults.

    Great post!

    1. Totally, totally agree, Guap. I have seen the most civil and respectful discussions occur here on WordPress and it makes me really happy to see that my blogging family is understanding of each other. I guess I was just writing this because for some reason, third party voters really stood out in my experience voting yesterday. Thanks!

  7. The only parties I endorse are Tupperware parties because that stuff is guaranteed FOREVER. You can’t beat that. Tupperware for everyone!

    I don’t vote along party lines. That’s how we get into trouble. I would vote for 3rd party if I thought there was a candidate I supported.

    1. I can vote for Tupperware! My mom still has a bunch of hers from before i was born! It’s good stuff.

  8. I am so up to my limit of hearing about politics that I am a little woozy, so I am not going to try to produce an insightful comment on this. Just know I read it all and I liked it. There :).

    1. Thanks, Becs. I am so tired of politics too. Good thing these presidential elections only come around every four years.

  9. I often wish that Americans would get with the program and have a more diverse (and less black v white, good v bad, us v them, polarizing two party system) political party system, more like I’ve seen in European countries. There are so many shades of grey in politics and in life, and I wish our party system reflected that.

    1. Yes, yes, and yes. American politics sometimes seem like just a string of polarities and talking points. I’m hoping that it won’t always be this way.

      1. I’m not holding my breath…

  10. I often find myself agreeing with third party candidates, but vote the major line because I don’t want the other major line to get elected. I wish there could be legitimate campaign finance law and the complete obliteration of Citizens United so third-party candidates could actually get elected.

    1. I’m really hoping that someday that will be the case. The amount of money that was poured into campaigning this time around was pretty sickening.

  11. Great post Emily. I think in Nevada, if I’m not mistaken, they added an option years ago which allows you to cast a vote for, “I don’t like either of these guys.” I think that’s a very satisfying option to be able to exercise. I think every state should offer that choice. It’s empowering.

    I’m so done with the hysterics, drama, meanness, superior attitudes, and hypocrites. I’m also done with all the those that choose not to think independently for themselves but instead, join the big ranting party. The negativity is so very ugly.

    I know a lot about the presidential election/issues but sadly not so much about the state and local level politicians. I should. When I’ve tried to understand things by asking questions I’ve been shut down and made to feel like a terrible person. It really caused me to stop and consider the quality of people I associate with and why I was making myself vulnerable to that kind of abuse. No more. I have new standards for myself. I guess this political season was a good sifting process. I choose kindness, patience, understanding, respect and civility.

    Thanks for writing this, Emily. Glad this whole process has come to a close.

    1. Life is too short to get upset over political things, methinks. Of course, I say this as a middle class white person in one of the most powerful countries in the world, so I recognize that I’m in a privileged position. I would likely have a different perspective if my general wellbeing were directly affected by the actions of politicians. But I’m tired of the screaming too. My mom has such tunnel-vision when it comes to politics that if I disagree with her on any aspect whatsoever, she becomes extremely upset and sees it as a personal insult to her and what she believes, which of course it’s not. This has posed extreme difficulties for our relationship throughout this election season because I pretty much disagree with everything she thinks politically. I’ve kept my mouth shut – it’s just not worth it for me to try to talk reasonably with her – but this whole election has left a bad taste in my mouth for that reason alone. Thank God it’s over.

  12. They should have a Bacon Party. I’d vote straight down the party ticket for that one. Plus then we could have an actual bacon *party*. Bonus!

    (I agree with what you wrote. Well said.)

    1. Now THAT is a party I can get behind. I think Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec would be the candidate. I would vote for him, easily.

  13. Elections are definitely more dynamic when they’re not as polarized. If you look at the fortunes of political parties federally and provincially in Canada, you can see them go from almost-ruin to near sweeps over just a few short years. I think it keeps politicians on their toes knowing that the tide can change; it makes them more accountable. But, yes, third parties do split the vote sometimes. That’s the only reason we have Stephen Harper right now (with 40% of the popular vote!). But he at least KNOWS he’s not wanted by most Canadians, which is valuable when he tries to push unreasonable policy.

    1. A side note on Canada: I love the people who are now saying that they are going to move to Canada because Obama got reelected. They are in for a real surprise when they find out about the socialized medicine and policies on gay marriage when they get there.

  14. I just read an article in a local newspaper about how 14k+ people wrote in their vote for Portland City Mayor. That is a whopping 7.7% of the total voters! I think this election has really shifted people’s perceptions of viable candidacy, and I’m hoping it carries to the next election.

    1. Portland is such a cool place. It really seems like most of the unnecessary protocol that is present throughout the rest of the country is absent there. I hope voters will recognize that the two party system is largely broken and the answers to fixing our country are likely found in the gray areas that third party and write-in candidates are more wiling to advocate.

  15. I deleted my friends and family from facebook long ago that could not be respectful. My election night and morning were peaceful and respectful. It was a beautiful thing.

    1. I could definitely learn a lesson from you. It’s sad that it’s our families and friends who are often the most insulting of all.

  16. This is great, thanks for voicing (er typing) it. My hubs was gung-ho Ron Paul and he had a tough decision of whether or not to vote 3rd party. I am so proud to be married to someone who is so informed :)

    1. As you should be! I was deflated too when Ron Paul was out of the running. He had some really good ideas.

      1. definitely. I didn’t really care for either of the candidates this time around but alas… maybe Rand can follow in his father’s footsteps next time around

  17. This was so, so sweet to read. I sincerely hope I’ve been one of the nice third party voters. I’ve had my fair share of frustration these last few weeks, but I really wanted to be a decent person about it all. I hope I accomplished this. Thanks for writing this post. It has felt isolating to be a third party voter at times.

    1. You were actually one of the people I had in mind when I wrote this. People get so used to hemming and hawing when their Dem or GOP candidate doesn’t get elected, but I challenge them to think about what it’s like to back a third partier. You’re pretty much ensured to be let down. Everyone should try that kind of disappointment on for size.

  18. Great point about third parties. You really do have to put a lot of work in to even know a thing about them. It’s harder enough getting the big two straight. I hope one day a third party can win only to shake things up. When a third party enters the realm then I think more will too.

    Realm? Why am I talking about this like it’s Mad Max?

    1. Realm always sounds so medieval to me, like Charlemagne’s realm. Incidentally, I would vote for Charlemagne. I don’t think he’d run attack ads. He’d probably give figs or something to small children. I have no idea where I’m going with this.

  19. Thirty minutes sounds about right to me. Politics is a messy business; best not to get in too deep…

    1. Truer words are seldom spoken.

  20. Good post. I’m so hoping this election will change something with campaigning. Some type of compromise that will allow a little wiggle room on some of these political platforms. I know little about three-party candidates either (no excuse, my kids aren’t cute babies anymore!). I do always worry about giving my votes away and letting the least appealing candidate to win. Perot was blamed for Clinton’s win and Nadar was blamed for Bush’s. And money certainly does have something to do with it — I wonder what it was like back before television when you could run for President without a Super PAC?

    1. Things were probably a lot more fair in those days. I was just listening to an interesting radio piece the other day about how some of our most effective early presidents (ie, Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson) were actually not really too charismatic. They got by on their ideas and expertise alone. It would be quite an experiment to run a campaign without the media and talking heads at all.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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