When you vote, it’s not about you or your preferred candidate

A friend writes that it’s difficult for him to get excited about voting for Hillary Clinton, since he is so much more excited by Sanders, and he’s correspondingly disappointed to be on the losing end.

I get that. It stinks to lose. The only thing worse than losing is to to lose in slow motion, while you are expected to put on a happy face about it.

It’s important to remember something, too.

When you step into the voting booth, you’re not voting for a candidate, at least not primarily for her. You are voting to protect twenty million newly-insured people under health reform. You’re voting for the single mom in Texas who has an unintended pregnancy, the child in Little Village whose parents need humane immigration policies, the disabled man who needs decent Medical and social services, the little girl in Bangladesh whose village may someday be submerged if we don’t address to climate change.

It’s not about Clinton. It’s not about Sanders or Trump. We’re not voting “for” these people, or at least primarily for them. This election is not about expressing our personal identities and tribal affinities as voters, either. It’s about millions of people who have real things to lose if we elect the wrong person.

It’s not about us. That’s why Clinton, Sanders, the entire Democratic Party, and many others will come together in November.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

6 thoughts on “When you vote, it’s not about you or your preferred candidate”

  1. You left out a few people. We are also voting for all the people in the US, young and old, under-represented or not, who would like to be able to find living wage jobs some time in their lifetime. Who are maybe coming back from having lost everything, as many people here did. Who want nothing more than to become full-fledged, contributing members of society again, and maybe even be able to make plans again … so that we can afford to pay for all these benefits for all the people you mentioned.

    Whoever our nominee turns out to be *should* make a tour of the South and the red areas of every state. At least go talk to all those folks. There are a lot of dots that need to get connected for them, so that they can understand that if we build a world with fair economic policies, it *doesn't* have to be Us v. Them, either domestically or internationally.

    If you want peace, work for justice.

    Oops, and now that I've said the word "peace," I'll have to mention that, if nominated and if elected, I hope Clinton is at least as non-hawk as she will probably turn out to be non-progressive. Maybe we'll break even!

  2. Makes me think of what used to be called the Freeman's Oath in my current state:

    "You solemnly swear (or affirm) that whenever you give your vote or suffrage, touching any matter that concerns the State of Vermont, you will do it so as in your conscience you shall judge will most conduce to the best good of the same, as established by the Constitution, without fear or favor of any person."

  3. Slow clap. It's not just about Fat Tony's (and RBG's and Slappy The Clown's) replacements. And not to belabor the obvious, but it's also about getting Latinos to the polls.

  4. Actually I suspect I won't vote at all this year again. The only one validly interested even faintly in my concerns is Sanders and he will be out before my state primary. Trump is man on horseback a demagogue Huey p. Long for the early 21st century, Although if doesn't make it this time someone with similar platform will eventually. Cruz anyone whose wife is a managing director of GoldmanSachs is hardly the small government ant Wall street he claims to be. Kasich is the face man for the Washington insiders. Sanders I find much to admire in I expect he never expected to win he was merely trying to pull the party his way. HRC I would rather pull my own teeth out with pliers and no pain killer then vote for. She is 4 years of what we have had since Reagan's day Wall Street and the rich getting richer the rest of us "tough luck" Unless you really believe that she had something to say so incredibly brilliant that it was worth 325K then it was a legal bribe. All in all to hell with it none of the candidates really give a damn about the increasing problems of whats left of the working class. And in return we don't give a damn who wins it won't change a damn thing for us.

  5. No I caught the meaning but I don't believe Clinton stands for anything or anyone but Wallstreet. And if you want to know what Clinton's policies are ask GoldmanSachs because she doesn't give a damn about people who work by the hour. 2ND Being president is not meant to be a family business is this a republic or a banana republic?

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