“Anybody who votes for Trump is a full-blown racist.”
“A vote for Biden is a vote for abortion on demand.”
I’ve heard both of these statements from people whose opinions I value over the past few weeks. Both of these statements are wrong.
Each is an ultimatum meant to spur reaction–a quick pigeon-holing of the listener who has no course of action but to agree or risk being deemed deficient of good character.
These types of statements do two things incorrectly. First, they assume motives that the author simply cannot ascertain. Second, they equate a vote for a candidate as a signal of support for all that person’s policies and all their actions.
Who ever said a vote has to mean these things?
It wasn’t Webster.
A socially conscious individual could vote for President Trump in the election for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they seek the reversal of Roe v. Wade and expect a Trump appointee to deliver on that issue. Perhaps they are tired of the looting. Maybe they are enjoying the tax break from 2017 and are hoping for more of the same.
Likewise could a similarly conscious individual vote for Vice President Biden for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they deem the Trump Administration as a threat to long-standing American institutions. Or dislike the way the President has handled COVID-19. Or perhaps they want to see a widened Republican party that is sustainable amidst changing demographics and that can ensure conservative policy goals, like ending abortion, in the long run.
None of these motives are out of racism or a desire for “abortion on demand”.
Even so, these determinations of what your vote means before you have a chance to say a word stick for a reason. That’s because some people who are racists will vote for President Trump. And some people who support abortion up to birth will vote for Biden. But you are allowed to consider more than two issues (and how one candidate with only four years in power can address them) in the election.
The truth is that many will not agree completely on everything in a candidate’s platform. Alexander Hamilton famously endorsed Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800. They saw little in common.
Was Hamilton’s support of Jefferson a vote for everything the Democratic-Republicans stood for? Hamilton would say no. Instead, he reasoned that “Jefferson [wa]s in every view less dangerous than Burr.”
If you want to vote for a candidate for a reason that no one is talking about, like the candidates’ positions on refugee resettlement, you have that freedom. If you want to vote for a candidate for a reason everyone is talking about, like abortion or healthcare, there’s freedom for that, too.
I don’t mean that you should throw wisdom out the window and ignore how a candidate might act in regards to the whole array of issues. I’d recommend comparing the party platforms to ensure you know how a party plans to govern if given power, even if we don’t know exactly what the future holds. This is especially true because a presidential term is only four years and Washington remains the city of gridlock (the Founders planned it this way).
In the end though, after you’ve considered all you want to consider, you get to decide how and why you vote.
So do it. Vote how you want to and why you want to. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.