Opinion: The choice in this year’s election

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Historically presidential election campaigns pick up steam around the first day of autumn in the final weeks before Election Day. However this year’s race for the White House has been anything but predictable. There was an abundance of smoke and fire all summer, not to mention mudslinging. It has already become ugly.

It is near impossible to anticipate what will happen during these final six weeks or the outcome on November 8, other than only Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can become the 45th President of the United States of America. In this crazy election cycle, with more twists and turns than a scary Stephen King novel, there is little to predict what will occur in the coming days, not after all the precedents and political traditions that have already been obliterated. This campaign is the most uncivil and abnormal that we have ever seen.

With all due respect to those who find both candidates unpalatable and plan to either sit out the voting or cast their ballot for a third party candidate, that is a cop out. It may make some feel better by not voting for either candidate, but it will not make the nation better. It ignores the reality of American politics and worse yet, it leaves it to others to decide America’s leadership future.No third party candidate has ever come close to winning the Presidency and that will surely not change this year.

A vote for either Green Party candidate Jill Stein or Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is a wasted vote and an exercise in futility and foolishness. It is a self-indulgent display of ostrich-like denial. Recent history poignantly bears this out.

Dissatisfied voters who did not like either Al Gore or George W. Bush in 2000 voted for consumer champion Ralph Nader. The end result was that Al Gore lost critical votes that cost him the Presidency and enabled the policies of President George W. Bush, a man who was probably the antithesis of Nader. Similarly the Ross Perot voters of 1992, (mostly Republican), hastened Bill Clinton’s victory over incumbent President George H. W. Bush. In 1968, millions of disappointed supporters of Democrats Eugene McCarthy and the slain Robert F. Kennedy refused to vote for Hubert H. Humphrey which led to the election of their arch foe Richard Nixon and all that followed.

In each such instance support for the third party candidate did nothing but help elect the less preferable candidate in the eyes of those voting for the third party candidate. Such unwitting voters aided the very person who they found more objectionable between the two major party candidates.

Of course that is their right. But it is an ultimately self-defeating exercise of their vote and a contradiction of their beliefs.

I have made my preference known on this page in previous columns. It is no secret that I find Mr. Trump abhorrent and entirely unqualified to be president. I say this even while acknowledging Mrs. Clinton’s flawed character and propensity to be less than transparent. But those who find Trump preferable to Clinton, should vote for him on November 8 rather than some other candidate. The undeniable reality is that the real choice comes down to two individuals this year. Neither Ms. Stein nor Mr. Johnson remotely suggest that they can win this election.

Perhaps some time in the future the political structure in this country will evolve into more than just the two party system. But clearly that time is not now. The stakes in this election are too high for misplaced votes.

Watch the debate next week and then make your choice count.

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