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This election is too important

| Thursday, September 8, 2016

This year, many of us will exercise our right to vote for the next leader of the United States of America for the very first time. It’s an exciting feeling to play a part in the electoral process. Especially considering the historical weight, the lives lost and battles fought for us all to have this right. For this reason, I understand the severe disillusionment that so many feel when they look up at the two major party candidates for this year’s election. For eighteen or more years of our lives we have dreamt of having a hand in shaping this country. So how can anyone ask us to throw away our first vote to a candidate who we feel does not deserve it?

That’s exactly what I’m asking you to do now. I am not speaking to the staunch Trump or Clinton supporters. These are the people who have weighed their options and, for better or for worse, have made up their minds. I am speaking directly to you my undecided, fence riding and third party leaning friend. It is time for you to get your head in the game and make the responsible decision. There is a high probability that you belong to one or more of the following three categories: 1)  You think Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are equally bad for this country, 2) You are considering not voting at all or 3) You are so disgusted with the major parties that you would rather vote third party.

Number one is pretty easy to tackle because it is false. Whatever images you have in your mind of “Crooked” Hillary or, my new favorite, Hillary “Rotten” Clinton, her political and moral misdeeds come nowhere near those of Donald “J is for jackass” Trump. Her greatest scandal seems to be moving confidential emails to a private server. With a job as hectic as Secretary of State I cannot say that I blame her for wanting to streamline her tasks and improve efficiency. However, I will concede to the fact that it was not the most secure tactic. I blame Secretary Clinton and her team for not fully understanding the pitfalls of their technology. The same crime of which many people’s parents are guilty. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a known xenophobe among other dangerous social ills. He is the more despicable candidate by a landslide. If you disagree then consider yourself the victim of a masterfully designed campaign to vilify a good woman.

Number two is also easy to tackle. Too many people sacrificed so much for you to have the right to vote. Honor their memory by exercising that right. There is not much more that needs to be said on the matter.

This brings us to number three. You feel driven by your conscience to vote for a third party candidate. In truth, this is a noble choice. It keeps alive the spirit of those who warned against the rule of the majority and the control of factions at this country’s inception. It is also a matter of pride. You crave the satisfaction of knowing that you did not compromise your values. In any other election I would applaud your choice. That being said, this election is too important. Any vote against Hillary Clinton is a vote for Donald Trump. I say this because we are at a unique point in American History where the presidential election is just as much about keeping one candidate out of the oval office as it is about getting another one into office. If you have any inkling of how the electoral college works then you know that a third party candidate’s chances of becoming elected are dismal at best. To know this and vote third party anyway is bordering on selfish behavior. I am not calling into question your morals or skills of discernment because I have the utmost respect for every individual’s right to decide who best represents their interests. Instead, I am asking you to be realistic and put the country’s interests above personal pride. Experiment with the electoral process in the future. Uproot the failures of the system when you can. Now, however, is not the time. This election is too important to throw fruitless political tantrums or remove yourself from the entire process. Your vote matters and I implore you to make the responsible choice.

If for some reason it was not clear enough in the column, I’m with her. However, I am not against disagreement, having my opinions challenged or even having them changed. I welcome the opportunity to discuss these and many other issues facing our country. This is why I am a member of BridgeND. While my views definitely do not represent those of the entire club, I savor the fact that I have a group of people willing to engage with me in virtuous discourse.

Geralyn Smith is a junior studing Film, Television and Theatre and Spanish. She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About BridgeND

BridgeND is a bipartisan student political organization that brings together Democrats, Republicans, and all those in between to discuss public policy issues of national importance. They meet Tuesday nights (starting Sept.8) from 8-9pm in the McNeil room of LaFortune. They can be reached at [email protected] or by following them on Twitter @bridge_ND

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