By Nico Regoli
To those of you who quit Facebook or stopped watching CNN because you couldn’t handle politics anymore, the 2016 Presidential Election will be one week away by the time of this article’s publication. November 8 is almost upon us, and after what has been a long, ugly, divisive, controversial, and reality show-esque race to the White House, I’ve just about had enough.
Believe it or not, there was a time in which the issues were actually at the focus of this election, and Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders was the people’s champion of those issues. During the primary season, Sanders pushed his opponents into discussing campaign finance reform, student loan debt, narrowing the wage gap, corporate corruption, ending the drug war, reforming our justice system, and (at least in my opinion) the real biggest threat to America and the world (not ISIS): climate change. Issues that normally took a backseat to our inability to leave the Middle East alone were finally getting the attention they deserved, and millions of Americans finally felt like they were being listened to, myself included.
For the first time since then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008, I felt like a there was an alternative candidate out there with my best interests at heart who also had a shot at winning. In fact, most if not all of the primary polling projected Bernie Sanders to be the most electable Democratic candidate versus Republican Donald Trump in the generals.
Unfortunately, “President Bernie Sanders” was not meant to be, and now we find ourselves discussing which of the remaining candidates has the worse collection of skeletons in their closet. What are those skeletons you ask? Buckle up, because it’s about to get bumpy.
First up is Donald Trump, a presumed joke candidate that South Park accurately warned us (through the art of parody) to take more seriously than we did, who then became the Republican nominee when those warnings went ignored. A serial failure of a businessman, Trump has filed for bankruptcy four times, has openly admitted to not paying income taxes, and has been banned by banks from taking out new loans after not paying back any of his prior loans.
Trump’s people skills aren’t that great either, having insulted humans of literally every demographic, from Muslims, to Mexicans, African-Americans, the press, the disabled, war veterans and their families, and especially women, throughout his campaign. In a 2005 audio clip (in which he was mic’d for an interview, but didn’t know it was on at the time), Trump stated that he could get away with touching women sexually without consent because of his wealth and fame, and even went into detail of a past event in which he attempted to seduce a married woman. Following the release of that audio clip, at least 10 women have come forward, accusing Trump of sexual misconduct.
In a Gettysburg address on October 22, Trump stated that he would sue his accusers within his first hundred days in office. Those lawsuits, along with an upcoming December hearing for alleged misconduct with a 13-year-old girl in the 1990s, and the numerous fraud allegations he’s facing for Trump University, can all be added to the list of 3,500-plus lawsuits that Trump has been involved in throughout his career. Threatening to sue (and silence) his accusers is also not the first time Trump has attacked the First Amendment, as he has previously stated that he would “open up” libel laws if elected, which could discourage the press from doing their jobs without fear of being sued for critical news reporting.
Having actively denied comments he has made on record, losing his cool and resorting to childish tactics in all three presidential debates (none of which he actually prepared for), and being unable to tell a single self-inflicted joke during a recent charity roast, Donald Trump has proven himself to be a greedy, ill-tempered, ignorant, egotistic narcissist, unworthy of the Presidency. However, out of the all of the outlandish things Trump has said and done, his insane claims of a “rigged” election may surprisingly hold more weight than you would think. Which brings us to our next candidate.
Following his concession at the Democratic National Convention, Bernie Sanders endorsed his primary rival and Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, under the reasoning that we must come together to stop Donald Trump from becoming President. While I greatly sympathize with that sentiment, Clinton has her own unique baggage that has made her one of the most disliked candidates in recent history.
Ignoring the sexual escapades of her husband, Clinton has seen her fair share of controversy throughout her career as a lawyer, First Lady, New York U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. In a 1996 New Hampshire speech, First Lady Clinton uttered the infamous term, “superpredators,” while speaking in support of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. She used this term to describe kids involved in gang activity, but because gang activity was usually associated with young African-American males, the term itself also became associated with young African-American males.
Clinton also has a reputation for being a warhawk. Following intelligence reports of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction (which turned out to be false), Senator Clinton was among the many legislators who supported the American war effort in Iraq. And as Secretary of State, she pressured President Obama to keep a solid troop presence in Iraq, send more troops into Afghanistan, and to arm and train more Syrian rebels.
Then there’s the issue of trustworthiness, or lack thereof. Recently, Wikileaks has released several more sets of the Clinton campaign’s private emails. The content within those emails not only supports the notion that Clinton is untrustworthy, but also validates Donald Trump’s whinings of a “rigged” election.
According to excerpts from the leaked Podesta emails, Clinton spoke to the National Multi-Housing Council in 2013 about the importance of having “both a public and a private position” on policy in order to survive in the political world. Then in another email from late 2015, her director of speechwriting, Dan Schwerin, implies that Clinton is still (privately) against gay marriage, and that her public talk of evolving on that issue was simply to save face. Considering how quickly she adopted some of Senator Sanders’ policies to her own platform during the primaries, how am I supposed to trust her to follow through on those policies and do what she says she will do when evidence suggests otherwise?
Then there’s the issue of potential election fraud, as throughout this campaign, there have been several incidents and occurrences that suggest this election hasn’t been as fair as advertised. In multiple states during the primaries, numerous (potential) Sanders supporters were left unable to cast their ballots after the party affiliations on their voter registrations were mysteriously changed post-deadline. Sanders supporters also found themselves on the losing end of an unprecedented six consecutive tie-breaking coin tosses, as well as some fishy hand-counts of votes in the Iowa Caucus.
Sanders supporters had (and still have) even more reason to be suspicious following the Wikileaks Summer hack and release of DNC emails, which revealed what appeared to be a coordinated plot by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the DNC to help Clinton get the nomination at the other candidates’ expenses. Schultz’s replacement, Donna Brazile later found herself in her own controversy. According to another Podesta email excerpt, then-CNN correspondent Brazile fed the Clinton campaign a debate question in advance back in March, that was later used in October’s Town Hall Debate. The more stories and evidence that come to light, the harder it becomes to ignore the possibility that maybe this election actually has been rigged in Clinton’s favor.
The fact that these incidents have received very little media coverage should also raise eyebrows. According to a May 2015 Politico article, various companies, media organizations, and personalities, such as Comcast, NBCUniversal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting, Carlos Slim (the largest shareholder of The New York Times Company at that time), and Judy Woodruff (co-anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour) have all donated money to the Clinton Foundation.
Donations to a candidate translates into candidate access, which is maintained by doing what you can to avoid displeasing said candidate. The mainstream media didn’t have the heart to take down a fellow establishment member, like Clinton, so her controversies received minimal coverage compared to Donald Trump’s being a horrible person.
It’s the job of the press to question the government and be its watchdog, not its lap dog, and it seems that one of the only few outlets who are actively trying to get to the truth is WikiLeaks, the organization responsible for the Clinton campaign’s email leaks. Clinton has tried to attack the validity of the leaked emails, claiming the emails have been tampered with, and repeatedly stating that 17 intelligence agencies have confirmed the leaks to be cyber attacks from Russian hackers who are trying to influence the election. However, as I said before, intelligence agencies also falsely claimed that there were WMDs in Iraq, so why should I believe these intelligence agencies now?
I just can’t find it in my heart to vote for someone like Hillary Clinton, who has given me multiple reasons not to trust her, and who the media has been helping be deceitful rather than challenging her for the truth. I’ve had enough of the B.S. that comes with the two-party system, and I feel like it’s time for a change. Hence why this year, for the first time in my life, I will be voting for a third party candidate, specifically the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein.
Now, for the Libertarians out there, Gary Johnson seems like a nice guy, but I don’t agree with some of his policies, nor do I agree with Libertarianism as a whole. I believe that government has its place, and instead of just cutting things because they aren’t working properly, we should try to fix them so they do work. Regarding his platform, I don’t like Johnson’s idea of completely abolishing minimum wages, and his unwillingness to overturn Citizens United doesn’t appeal to me either.
Where Johnson truly lost me though was through a video I saw of him speaking at a 2011 National Press Club luncheon. At that luncheon, Johnson recognized the existence of manmade climate change, but then stated that we “should be building new coal-fired plants,” arguing that the money needed to fight climate change isn’t worth spending because according to him, “In billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future.”
As previously stated, I consider climate change to be the biggest threat facing our existence today (worse than ISIS). It’s a threat that does not discriminate, impacting our friends, families, allies, and foes alike, including ISIS. The time we still have to properly fight it and keep this planet inhabitable is running short, and if we don’t make a serious effort to combat climate change now, scientists predict that half a million people will die from the resulting ruined agriculture by 2050. I can’t vote for someone who will willfully ignore that because of Libertarianism’s emphasis on the freedom of the free market.
I need someone who will make fighting climate change the top of their top priorities, and that person is Jill Stein. I’m willing to overlook her willingness to question the safety of vaccines (which is okay to do because medical science is always changing, so long as she’s not actively telling people not to vaccinate their kids, which would be bad) if it means a quicker transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, and a faster fix for our Earth.
It’s time we stopped looking at the Green Party, and third parties as a whole, as “spoilers.” They are not spoilers, they are real choices, and if Jill Stein receives five percent of the vote in this election, the Green Party will receive federal matching funds which will allow them to grow as a real party, and be seen as a real choice. That’s change we need, that’s change I can get behind, and that’s why I’m with Jill.
*Editor’s Note: The information in the third-to-last paragraph regarding predicted climate change-related deaths was not accurately worded. The Daily Mail article cited actually states that scientists predict that there will be over half a million extra deaths, not BY the year 2050 (as the cited article’s title misleadingly stated), but IN the year 2050 as a result of climate change’s impact on agriculture and food production (which is much worse than my original wording implied). My apologies for making that error.