I am a true independent. I voted for President Obama in '08 and Governor Romney in '12. I voted in Illinois Senate seat races to reelect Senator Durbin (D-IL) and to promote Mark Kirk (R-IL) to the Senate to succeed Obama. While a resident of southern California, I helped oust Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) in favor of immigrant and self-made doctor Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA). And in Spring of this year, I utilized the open primary system in Illinois to pull a Republican ballot and support the only reasonable, pragmatic, and thoroughly well-rounded candidate in the race from either party, Governor John Kasich (R-OH).
My approach and my voting record would drive pollsters and political scientists crazy. Some feel that if you don't know who you're voting for soon after the nominating conventions, then you're not paying close enough attention. I disagree.
Whereas lifelong Democrats might not ever entertain the ideas of a Republican candidate or vice-versa, I rarely disqualify any candidate for any basic reason. Unless the person is a known racist or white supremacist or a dictatorial fascist or something crazily extreme, I'm happy to hear the arguments and proposals of any candidate before I entertain opposition or support.
So maybe for people whose opinions and ideologies match more closely with a particular party, the decision can be simpler and easier to conclude more quickly. However, for me as an independent, a moderate, and a Catholic, I want to take in as much information as I can. On the one hand, 24-hour-news has skewed the quality and shallowed the depth of news, but the technology and social media age gives us huge amounts of news, reporting, analysis, and commentary that can inform us. And if we can responsibly curate the data - for me, via (most of) my Facebook friends and my Twitter follows - there's lots of good sources out there to look to for information.
I look especially to Catholic media like America Magazine, Crux, Catholic News Agency, Millennial Journal, and more as well as various secular media for political coverage like NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more.
In the case of this election, I knew from the moments Trump began to rise in the polls, through his insurgence in the primaries, and his winning of the delegate majority, that I could probably not vote for him. Even with the primacy of opposing abortion and upholding the consistent ethic of life that is usually found in the candidates of the Republican Party, I just felt his demeanor and brutishness did not translate to presidential leadership. Each time he opened his mouth, this was confirmed more and more, but it was from sifting through the reporting and reaction that I first found the incisive language to match my discomfort with Trump as a candidate:
It was from this well-written opinion piece that I was able to grasp exactly what bothered me most about Trump the candidate: he values power more than anything, and ignores or even belittles marginalized people. Trump's pomposity as a reality TV star and egotistical personality are galling, but it was by reading this story and connecting the dots that I found why I could likely never vote for him for president. I set the likelihood at 1%, knowing the DNC was toughening their stance on abortion in the platform and fussing over the reasonable compromise of the Hyde Amendment, thinking that I might yet want recourse to the ticket with a more moral stance on abortion."Time and again Mr. Trump has shown contempt for those he perceives as weak and vulnerable" https://t.co/ZmI3TQ3rtx via @nytopinion— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 5, 2016
So as the summer rolled on into convention season, I wanted to hear the RNC's speakers, vet the acceptance speeches, and see what the campaign would talk about. I especially wanted to see how, without the crutch of a hand-picked crowd and control over how the event would unfold, Trump would avail himself in a one-on-one conversation with Hillary Clinton. Here's my thoughts on Trump as I watched him in the debate (see all my tweets in the homepage sidebar or by visiting my profile or clicking through to my hashtag):
Deregulated business can = subsidiarity but must be done carefully so doesn't cause exploitation & greater rich/poor gap #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
Trump's tax cuts can free $$ for family stability, care for marginalized but he wants it mainly for personal wealth #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
Trump's rant on "third-world" US airports underscores how his entire focus is prestige, wealth, power, but never dignity #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
Trump on race relations: law-and-order driven; says it's hell for minorities but only suggests more stop&frisk, etc #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
Aside: Chi. has massive gun/violence issues but Trump needs better #'s + greater concern than "I have properties there" #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
Trump supports 2nd amendment, which bishops generally affirm, but needs to come with reasonable gun controls/limits too #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
Global solidarity is about bonds of humanity, not ability to pay. Donald always motivated by money, power, prestige. #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
The debate just confirmed that Trump's ego and personality preclude him from paying any attention or giving any due justice to people who we have marginalized in our society. He solely values power and wealth. And any time he explains a policy or position, those motivations are clear while any attention to marginalized people is missing.Overall, Trump continues focus on power/wealth; Clinton covers lot of good CST (but remains abortion advocate) #Debates #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) September 27, 2016
Trump's running-mate Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) had some promising language in the tail-end of the Vice Presidential debate, but the whole of his comments in debating Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) showed that Trump and Pence are not on the same page with each other or with earlier comments they've made in the campaign versus their current stances. Pence's pro-life influence appears solid, but his influence is suspect; plus, he has his own issues in rejecting refugees and losing a showdown with the Archbishop of Indianapolis over admitting Syrians to Indiana.
Mike Pence wants more pro-adoption policies that could help end abortion, he said last night https://t.co/PJYabgfcgg— Michael J O'Loughlin (@MikeOLoughlin) October 5, 2016
Pence says Trump's career all about "building" - but wealth and power not solidarity and dignity of life 😐 #MoreThanRedAndBlue— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) October 5, 2016
I abhor the recourse to abortion that our law protects, but I am now certain that the vague chance (because why would we believe this one thing when so much of the other things he says are lies) that a Trump administration would appoint judges to overturn Roe v. Wade or reform laws to protect the unborn is not worth a vote for him in any scenario. (Note: this was drafted even before the 2005 video was released!)Proud of bishop for that advocacy and commitment to welcoming the stranger! #MoreThanRedAndBlue https://t.co/RHwbp6ja7E— Dan Masterton (@jesusandchicago) October 5, 2016
So that leaves me with three options remaining:
1. abstain, which I feel if done actively can be a responsible use of one's right to vote (or not)
2. vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for President
3. vote for Hillary Clinton, whose addressing of poor and marginalized people has been strong and sturdy but whose ticket's platform on abortion is awful
One month to go. Stay tuned.