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Post 26 Sep 2016, 6:29 am

I have several members of my family who are planning to vote for Trump. I'm not shy about political discussions with family, but I want to try and convince people rather than just argue. What's the best way to talk a family member down off the ledge of voting for the scoundrel? I have been using the Gary Johnson argument, because he really is a better candidate for most, but then I have to contend with the completely nonsensical "I'm not going to waste my vote" argument. Any suggestions?
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Post 26 Sep 2016, 11:22 am

Voting for Gary Johnson is a wasted vote. The stakes are too high to waste votes. If a person is in a battleground state and they are concerned about a Trump presidency they need to vote for Hillary

I think it really comes to comparing weaknesses and perceived weaknesses of the candidates and with Trump these are several levels of magnitude worse than any Hillary has.
What would be Hillary's issues:

a. e-mail scandal--someone not used to dealing with secret information was sloppy about it but there also appeared to be little or no guidance from career State Department personnel to her on this. I doubt this is going to be an issue in her presidency.

b. Dishonesty--This is extremely overrated criticism. Yes in your personal life honesty is a good thing. But being completely honest in politics? This is a ridiculous expectation. What is the major thing we need our president to be honest about? Foreign policy. Was GWB honest about why we were going into Iraq? No, he was not. Has Obama been honest in his foreign policy? Yes, I think so. Will Hillary be honest in her foreign policy? I think so. I think it is silly to think that governments will be completely honest, especially when they are being criticized or there is some sort of controversy/scandal. They will do what they can to minimize political damage. But I have no doubts whatsoever that Hillary will be honest and straightforward about why we are going to war.
c. Ethical issues/Clinton Foundation/Making money from politics-- If this is an issue just ask if a person to say in one sentence what Hillary has done wrong here.
d. Lack of Significant Accomplishments as Senator or as Secretary of State--She got a lot of experience from those two jobs. She has practical understanding of how things work in the Congress and in foreign policy. She appears to have command of the issues.
e. Lack of Charisma--Ok you don't like her--so what. What difference does it make if she does a good job.

Trump's weaknesses:

a.Narcissist/egoist--it's all about him, his ego, what's good for him. You want such a person running the country?

b. Temperament--The things he says, the lack of self-control, the personal attacks, anger at being criticized. You want such a person running the country, such a person controlling nuclear weapons, making decisions about sending in troops? Does the word wisdom belong in any sentence with Donald Trump?

c. Divider--He started his campaign with a speech attacking Mexican immigrants. He has attacked women repeatedly, he has talked about draconian measures against letting Muslims into the country. His whole platform seems geared to angry white males. How would we deal with the increasing anger over excessive use of force by the police? I am starting to think that our problems with the police are very deep problems that go beyond race or training and are in the culture (a decreased empathy in our culture--we are seeing a massive increase in autism--might there be lesser but still significant effects in the culture as a whole? Who knows.). In any case, Trump would make things even worse by blindly supporting the police without trying to be even-handed.
d. Lack of relevant experience/knowledge. Where he has shown that he knows...anything necessary for the job. Would you want someone flying your airplane who had never done it before? He doesn't know foreign policy, he has no practical experience in the executive or legislative branch. He has not demonstrated that he has the kind of analytical mind that can break down and solve extremely difficult and contested issues. Charisma may get people to like you but you need knowledge and an analytical problem-solving mind to be a good president. I guess if making shady business deals makes one a good president Trump has experience in that.

I think if you compare the resumes...there is no contest.
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Post 26 Sep 2016, 11:49 am

For me it's a function of risk aversion. The Republic can survive too much regulation, too much taxation, and too little honesty. In fact we have survived that in the past. However, an inexperienced, ego driven, anti-international, undisciplined outsider represents a huge risk. Imagine the worst that can happen.
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Post 26 Sep 2016, 11:52 am

Much better and more succinctly put, RJ.
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Post 26 Sep 2016, 3:18 pm

I obviously don't have a vote, but if I did then I couldn't bring myself to vote for Trump. What gets me about him is that there doesn't seem to be any potential upside to a Trump presidency which might compensate for the enormous risk you'd be taking in electing him. I get that people are frustrated with the establishment and looking at alternatives. Hell, I enthusiastically voted for Brexit recently in part because of that. But with Brexit I could see the massive potential opportunities to go along with the risks, there was something to be positive about. What exactly does Trump offer as a positive reason to vote for him ? With him it's all negative reasons. Hillary is a crap candidate, the establishment has neglected you, they're all the same and only care about feathering their own nest. There's obviously a significant element of truth to his criticisms or they wouldn't have resonated like they did, but exactly what is electing Donald Trump going to do to solve any of this stuff, and will it be worth it given the strong likelihood that it will tear the nation apart and severely diminish your standing in the world ? I just don't see it.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 9:50 am

freeman3 wrote:Voting for Gary Johnson is a wasted vote. The stakes are too high to waste votes. If a person is in a battleground state and they are concerned about a Trump presidency they need to vote for Hillary


Freeman, I'm not sure you understood my question. I am talking to TRUMP supporters. They will never, ever vote for Hillary. Never a 1,000,000 years. But some of them think that Gary Johnson is the better candidate, but won't vote for him because it's a wasted vote. These are the voters you might be able to change their mind so that they don't vote for Trump but vote for the candidate they actually think is better.

I explain that they are not the deciding vote in who becomes president. The whole concept of a wasted individual vote in a presidential election is statistically absurd. We don't have an electoral system that is precise enough to ensure that individual votes count. Consequently, people should vote for the best candidate. It's an argument we've had before, and it seems like it's done no good on you, and I'm not having much better luck on others. But I still got six weeks. Will be working on it.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 9:53 am

Ray Jay wrote:For me it's a function of risk aversion. The Republic can survive too much regulation, too much taxation, and too little honesty. In fact we have survived that in the past. However, an inexperienced, ego driven, anti-international, undisciplined outsider represents a huge risk. Imagine the worst that can happen.


Pretty good, I think.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 10:46 am

We live in a two-party system, George, not a parliamentary one. Therefore, voting for Gary Johnson is a wasted vote because he has ZERO chance of winning the election. what is the difference between voting for Gary Johnson and not voting at all? No difference. You can talk about individual votes not mattering but they do collectively. Almost certainly a small number of very liberal democrats who did not think that Al Gore was liberal enough made GWB president. Individually, each one of those votes meant little but those individual voters with similar very liberal beliefs made similar decisions on voting, opted out of voting for Gore, and got GWB elected, an unmitigated disaster. Your argument that an individual should vote for whomever they want because their vote means so little and therefore we all should vote for whomever we want based on our conscience was clearly proven wrong in 2000. All those Nader voters who voted their conscience and thought oh there wasn't any difference between GWB and Gore, got GWB elected and got someone who was a lot worse with regard to furthering their liberal beliefs.

If it were Kasich or even Jeb Bush I might say if you're a liberal Democrat and can't stand Hillary, then voting for another candidate would be ok. But this is Trump. At this point, in our system if you don't vote for Hillary you are making it more likely that Trump will win. If you're in a state where Hillary will comfortably win then it's ok to go with your protest vote. Otherwise, if you are concerned about Trump then you need to vote for Hillary, else you are making it more likely Trump will win. Individual voters who have similar views have to make similar decisions and you have to assume that they will act as you do. If we thought of our vote as meaning nothing because it has so little actual power in electing the president then we would not bother voting at all. But of course it means something. But a vote for a third-party candidate means nothing because it has no chance of electing someone and that's ok if the candidate of the other party than the one you who belong to is centrist and bearable. But I don't think it's acceptable in this election.

So I guess you are on your own in convincing your family members not to vote for Trump. They have the better of that argument--they would be wasting their vote if they voted for Gary Johnson. I am struggling to understand why you don't understand that voting for a third-party candidate--when added to other voters of similar political views making the same decision--can decide this election. Voting for Gary Johnson is a vote taken away from Trump and if enough Trump voters do it then Hillary will be elected. So I guess I hope you somehow convince Trump voters to vote for Gary Johnson, but I don't know what the argument would be. For my part, I would stick to arguing how risky Trump would be.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 11:47 am

It is amazing, Freeman. I could insert Clinton for trump and feel the same way.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 2:06 pm

Geo,

Tell them to vote their conscience even if it means a "wasted vote."

The fact is, no vote is wasted. A person's vote is a matter of conscience. Personally, I feel obligated to vote, if only out of respect for my uncles and scores of others who fought, suffered and died on the battle field so that I could have such a freedom.

In addition, I don't believe in the "wasted vote" argument. If enough people voted for an independent the message could become stronger and stronger. It could play out in such a way that our two party system becomes viewed as out of step with a substantial enough proportion of the country's citizens. We might see future candidates choosing to run as independents given the data and possibly winning in their respective races.

My brother-in-law is planning to vote for Clinton. He is incredulous that I will not vote for her given my distain for Trump. I have told him that my candidate was cheated from having a fair chance at the Democratic nomination. I've argued that my crystal ball tells me that the Berndog could have beaten Trump and that Clinton will not beat Trump. His crystal ball tells him otherwise.

In the end, I have to put my head on the pillow at night with my soul in tact and my aim true. I can not vote for either Clinton or Trump. The former is a known and proven liar and the latter I'm at a loss for words to describe.

Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative comes into play for me in that the ends never justifies the means. So in the case of Clinton, yes, she may have adopted some or even many of Bernie's policies. And yes, these may now be part of the Democratic Platform, and yes, I would like for some of Bernie's policies to come to fruition BUT the ends never justifies the means. And Clinton as the vehicle with which to carry forward that platform is unacceptable to me.

This election is not an either or. As I see it, your family members have 4 choices...

1. Vote for Trump
2. Vote for Clinton
3. Vote for an Independent
4. Sit this one out
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 3:37 pm

People can vote how they want, for whomever they want, for whatever reason I want. Let me just get that out there.

Dags takes (and perhaps George takes as well) a deontological view to voting as opposed to a utilitarian one. There is some intrinsic value to voting for who you really believe and it is inappropriate to weigh the consequences of doing that as opposed to an alternative which will have a better result. Dags list some extremely uncertain positives of voting your conscience, but the basic idea is that regardless of the consequences one should vote for the candidate you believe could do the best job.

For me, I just don't see voting as the type of activity where you cannot weigh the consequences of your vote. Some activity you just can't--even if the murder of an innocent person saved ten people it still would be wrong (you could not weigh the consequences). With voting "your conscience" there is nothing about failing to do so that is so reprehensible that we could not assess the negative consequences of voting one's conscience . To me, there is no problem of weighing the utilitarian consequences of your vote and figuring what vote you can make that on average will put the best candidate given your views into office. I just don't understand the idea that I have to vote my conscience because...yeah, what would happen. Nothing. I just don't see how voting your conscience when said action results in a worse candidate getting elected is the wisest choice. The utilitarian justifications for voting one's conscience--we'll get better candidates or the two party system will be changed--are so nebulous and unlikely to happen that they count for little in any reasonable calculus.

As for me, I am going to vote in a manner that maximizes the chances of getting the best possible candidate (given my views) elected.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 8:00 pm

Freeman, either math is not your strong point or you are too emotionally invested in politics to think about this rationally. You are not Alexander Hamilton deciding between Jefferson and Burr. You are not one of 370 electors deciding between Tilden and Hayes. Your individual vote for president has no consequence. Our electoral system is not precise enough to count it. That's the lesson of Gore Bush. 500+ votes, and that was a tie. Not one. not 10, not 100, more than 500.

We vote, either consciously or unconsciously like Dag votes. Because we're supposed to, or it's our duty. Or you have delusions of self-importance.

Thanks Dag, that was great.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 10:12 pm

You might construct arguments instead of calling people on the other side of the argument nonsensical, bad at math or emotionally invested. I made my argument that while one individual voter may not count for much, the decisions voters with similar political views will acculumate. If people do as you say the net impact will affect the election. Did Nader get 500 or more votes in Florida? Yes he did. Would those votes otherwise have gone to Gore. Yes, again. So the Nader voters did affect the election. But your argument is, no, since individual Nader votes did not decide the election that we cannot say an individual Nader affected the election. But the Nader voters did affect the election and if most of the Nader voters decided not to vote for him then Gore would have won. Again, you can make the same argument you are making against voting at all! Don't bother voting, it doesn't make any difference! I don't mind debating the issue but you are just doggedly sticking to the notion that no one should be concerned that their vote for a third party will help Trump or Hillary because their individual vote will not affect the election. But you have not provided no arguments--none--as to why a rational voter cannot think if I vote for the third party candidate and many people like me with similar views do likewise--then that will affect the election.
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Post 27 Sep 2016, 10:52 pm

I think the argument for voting your conscience is one that takes a longer term view. If enough people vote against the crap served up to them by the main parties then yes, that might have some negative short term consequences, but equally it might have some positive consequences as well. It could force other issues onto the agenda. It could provide encouragement to other third party candidates and in the long run help spur greater pluralism in American democracy. Chances are it probably wouldn't break the duopoly, but if the two main parties know that there's a plausible third party threat that might cause them to lose elections if they drift too far from mainstream concerns then it could act as a useful check upon the loonies.
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Post 28 Sep 2016, 12:34 am

I agree that voting for a third party candidate can have a positive impact, but the candidate has to attract enough support to get the major parties to change their message to attract those voters. Ross Perot was able to make the deficit an issue but he had what 15% of the vote? A few percentage points doesn't do anything. And of course another way is for the party to splinter. The Tea Party within the Republican Party had some success getting their views felt; Bernie Ssnders is another example, as he attracted large amounts of liberal support and forced Hillary to move left to keep those Sanders supporters (incidentally, I think the Hillary campaign has made the calculation that she can stay to the left--to drive turnout and keep those Sanders voters--in the general campaign based on the nature of the Trump campaign, something she probably could not have down if Kasich or Jeb were the opposing candidate).

Whether it is a defined element within the party or a third-party candicacy, you can get the major party to change its positions to attract that bloc of voters, but it has to be a fairly substantial number of voters--at least 10-15%.