Three weeks ago I didn’t know anything about Pokémon-GO. I got past that.
Last week I didn’t even know who Jill Stein was. Now I find myself engaged in discussions over whether voting for her makes any sense. Such is the learning curve of 2016.
Jill Stein is, as you may know, the Green Party candidate—a title she also held in 2012 when she won the most votes ever won by a woman candidate for president. In all fairness, I don’t know if that’s any great accomplishment since neither major party has put a woman on the ballot until this year. Nevertheless, Stein is not a neophyte to politics, local or national; and it’s very difficult for anyone with a progressive bent to disagree with her platform which is, for want of a better description, the Bernie Sanders platform on steroids.
Stein apparently has alienated some with her flip-flopping on mass vaccination and her concerns about the dangers of wi-fi in children’s development. Neither viewpoint is new or shockingly radical, and neither one should summarily disqualify her from consideration, especially since neither policy would ever be effected. Nor should she be disqualified because she can’t win—although she can’t.
And that’s worth noting: she can’t win.
Political change comes slowly, and what Bernie Sanders has managed to force into the 2016 Democratic platform already evinces a sweeping progressive movement, one which Hillary Clinton, should she win, would be compelled to honor. This is no subtle, glacially slow series of modifications to be ignored beginning November 9, but instead a dramatic departure from business as usual, especially regarding health care, college costs, minimum wage, etc. Will Clinton effect them all? Of course not: our political system presents challenges to rapid change. Would Jill Stein do better? No.
But in 2016 we have a rare occurrence. Instead of the usual Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, we have two candidates with diametrically opposed positions. Dee will move us forward, maybe not at the pace we’d like, but forward. Dum(b) takes us so far the other way that not even a Sanders-Stein presidency in 2020 would be enough to unto the damage. And if that doesn’t move you, consider what happens if anyone other than Hillary Clinton appoints the next Supreme Court justice.
It took me a day or two to figure out the attraction of Pokémon-GO. Similarly, I do understand the attraction of a candidate like Jill Stein, and if she were running for mayor or governor or senator, I might vote for her—she could be (and has been) a dynamic force at the local level. But nationally? Of course not. And though I don’t think any vote is truly wasted, one that merely “proves a point” and thereby gives aid and comfort to the person you most oppose, does come embarrassingly close.