I will not be voting for Donald Trump. Nor will I be voting for Hillary Clinton. In all likelihood, I will simply leave the top of my ballot blank, and vote only in the state and local races.
While there are people I respect who are likely voting for one or the other of the major candidates (mostly Trump, given my the profile of my acquaintance) and I do not think that it is morally impossible to come to a reason for supporting either, I think that withholding my support from either candidate has been or moral benefit to me. Some people are capable of being entirely practical in their voting, "I'm voting for Trump because I think that policies I support are more likely to pass under him than Clinton." However, many people are not able to be so impersonal. Having decided to support a candidate, however reluctantly, becomes necessary for them to defend him.
I see this among Hillary supporters on a group of Social Justice oriented Catholics that I lurk in. People who seemed to start out supporting a Democrat in a rather conflicted fashion, troubled by her absolutist position on abortion, are soon repeating anti-clerical lines about how priests and bishops should just shut up about politics and making broad claims that legalizing abortion is good for women.
I see it too among Trump supporters, and because these people are more like me ideologically and in temperament, I find it all the more troubling. People who were annoyed when feminists hash-tagged that #YesAllWomen were sexually harassed by men in too many cases are now willing to argue that "look, all men talk like that" when Trump talks about walking up to a woman and grabbing her genitals.
Most of us do not simply vote in detachment, we join the team and then feel the need to defend everything "our" guy does. This isn't a bad instinct. Loyalty is a good thing. But it is important to think twice about who we give our loyalty to. What has saddened me in this election in particular is to see Trump's awful candidacy drawing people to defend things they never would have excused a year ago.
At the end of the day, I care a lot less about who people vote for than I do about the ways in which their support of a candidate leads them to excuse actions and attitudes they never would have defended before. Those changes in moral standards may last long past the election and will effect their own lives far more.
Fortnightly Book, December 4
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