ALESTLE VIEW: If you have to vote for the lesser of two evils, vote based on policy, not public opinion

Your vote matters, and with such a high-steaks election cycle, your vote is especially crucial. You may have to vote for the lesser of two evils, which is okay, but it takes more research than a scroll through Twitter.

Over the course of election history, voters have become increasingly less informed on candidates’ policies and positions. In the 2016 presidential election, 27 percent of voters said they knew only some about President Donald Trump’s positions and 30 percent said they knew not much or nothing at all. In regard to Hillary Clinton’s positions, 32 percent said they knew only some and 18 percent said they knew not much or nothing at all, according to Pew Research.

Over half of all voters are either uninformed, ill-informed or unintentional about how they vote. For this majority of voters, the media, public opinion and party alignment play an important role in shifting their views.

The two-party system in the U.S. continues to further divide the country. Elections have devolved into popularity contests. 

Although third-party candidates are an option, they are often disregarded as a ‘waste of a vote.’ Voters are battered relentlessly with talking points during election season — one of which perpetuates the idea that a vote for a third-party candidate is actually a vote for whichever candidate is ‘more evil.’

Voters are discouraged from voting based on their political values if it leads them to choosing a third-party candidate. In the last presidential election, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein only garnered 3.28 percent and 1.06 percent of votes respectively.

The election often boils down to the nominees in the Republican and Democratic parties. It is rare that a third-party candidate wins a presidential election in the U.S.

Fear is often used as a tactic to prey on uninformed voters. Social media and news outlets perpetuate and capitalize on voters’ fears by denouncing candidates as evil or as a threat to different ideologies. For republican voters, former Vice President Joe Biden is labeled as a threat to individual freedoms/liberties. For democratic voters, Trump is labeled as a threat to social justice and equality. This mentality contributes to growing dissatisfaction with either candidate. 

When acting out of fear, people seek out any available remedy — regardless of what the remedy is or what it stands for. The elections are no exception. If the fear of losing freedom or equality becomes great enough, voters will choose whichever candidate they view as a solution. For this election especially, candidates’ have been discussing reasons to not vote for their opponent, instead of reasons why you should vote for them. The election rapidly becomes a vote against candidates rather than a vote for candidates. 

As we enter into elections, we at The Alestle encourage you to inform yourself on the positions and policies of all candidates. Vote for the candidate who represents your views, even if that has to be the lesser of two evils; however, we should not keep supporting evil in upcoming elections. 

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