Not Planning To Vote This Election? That's Like Murdering A Cute Puppy

Photographed by Heather Talbert.
Let’s imagine there’s a puppy. A really cute puppy. Like one of those adorable quarter cocker spaniel, quarter chocolate Lab, quarter poodle, quarter Ewok mixes. It’s a puppy, so sometimes it doesn’t behave, but it means well and sure is adorable. (Full disclosure: This is what my puppy looks like, but for the purposes of this conversation, she's America's puppy).

Up until now, the puppy has lived with a very nice guy who also means well and whom you like. He's a stellar dog owner, and has done a great job with the puppy over the past eight years. But on November 8, 2016, that guy's lease is up, and he's going to have to move to a non-dog-friendly building, and one of two very different things is going to happen to the puppy. Either the puppy is going to be looked after by a very nice woman who you might not be that keen on, but who seems to have the puppy’s best interests at heart, or the puppy is going to be run over by a bulbous, bright-orange truck, and smushed to smithereens.

You’re thinking you might sit it out. Just not vote. Not have a say one way or the other. Let everyone else decide without you.

Advertisement
And you get a say in what happens to the puppy. This is, after all, America. That’s actually this metaphorical puppy’s metaphorically convenient name.

Okay, I get it, you don’t really like either option. Obviously the bulbous orange truck goes against every single fiber of your moral and rational being, and plainly offers nothing but disaster for the puppy. You can’t have that. But the other option isn’t exactly perfect. You’ve heard a lot of criticisms that this woman can’t be trusted, and that she once used a private email server to send puppy pics. Or that her husband also once had a puppy and he put some three-strikes laws on the books that locked up a lot of Black puppies.

And so you’re thinking you might sit it out. Just not vote. Not have a say one way or the other. Let everyone else decide without you.

Faced with two imperfect choices in this election, the difference between them might seem small. It’s not.

Or perhaps you’ve heard about this other fictitious concept called a “third party” — which sounds good in principle, but in actuality, is just a way of making you feel like you’ve participated without your input actually mattering one bit. Maybe there’s some other lady down the block who you think would be perfect for the puppy. She fosters rescue dogs, helped preserve land for a dog park, and has promised she would never sign the puppy up for bad trade deals. And who knows, maybe you’re right. But nowhere near enough people agree with you about that woman. And what’s worse — voting for this mythical third option is really just a vote for the bulbous orange truck. And that’s not a metaphor. That’s just math.

If you aren’t casting your vote for Hillary Clinton, you are helping elect Donald Trump. This will be a monumentally close election, potentially decided by a few thousand or even a few hundred votes. Every vote literally matters.

If you aren’t casting your vote for Hillary Clinton, you are helping elect Donald Trump. This will be a monumentally close election, potentially decided by a few thousand or even a few hundred votes.

To put it in perspective, in 2000, Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in New Hampshire by just 7,000 votes. Meanwhile, 22,198 New Hampshire voters had cast their ballots for Ralph Nader. Had they voted for Al Gore instead, he would have become our president — with or without the hanging chads in Florida — and maybe instead of spending more than $1.7 trillion to destroy Iraq and create a vacuum for ISIS, we’d actually be solving climate change. The difference isn’t academic. People lost their lives because of Bush’s reckless, pointless war. And more lives are at stake if we don’t address climate change quickly.

Faced with two imperfect choices in this election, the difference between them might seem small. It’s not. Hillary Clinton is a lifelong public servant dedicated to helping children and families, who wants to raise the minimum wage, establish paid family leave and pay equity, clean up our environment, address racial injustice, expand affordable health care, and make college debt free.
Advertisement

#selfie with #sadiepig waiting for Willa after school

A photo posted by Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) on

Donald Trump is a self-serving misogynist who has fueled his campaign on hate and division, pledging to round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and ban a third of the world’s population from even entering the United States because of their religious beliefs. He would cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires like himself the most, and would not create, but actually eliminate, 3.5 million jobs.

And as with the puppy, again, you might not like the woman down the street, but there’s really no debating that choosing her is far and away a better outcome than the bulbous orange truck.

You don’t get to sit this one out. The future we’re deciding on today is the future your children will inherit. Just as George W. Bush set in motion decades of war, and history’s second worst recession, the president we elect in November will shape our nation and the world around us for generations to come. And just as fundamentally, whom we choose will help resolve the question of who we want to be — a nation of inequality and exclusion, or a country that continues its great march on the path to inclusion and justice for all. This decision will affect you. Don’t let it be made without you.

As with the puppy, again, you might not like the woman down the street, but there’s really no debating that choosing her is far and away a better outcome than the bulbous orange truck.

You don’t want to look back at this moment and say you opted out. Certainly you don’t get to opt out of the consequences of this election.

I wish there were more choices. I wish it worked that way. And we should change things so it does. But right now, it doesn’t. There are really only two choices. And not voting for Hillary Clinton means you are, in effect, helping elect Donald Trump. I’m afraid it really is that simple.

Just hoping the puppy won’t get run over by the bulbous orange truck isn’t enough. You have to do something. You have to vote. And you have to make sure your vote counts.

Sally Kohn is an activist, lawyer, and political commentator. The views expressed here are her own.

Refinery29 has partnered with more than 50 of the country's biggest women's media brands and political nonprofit Rock The Vote to register 100,000 women to vote. Become a voter today by signing up with #OurVoteCounts below.
Advertisement