Conscientious Objection in 2016

Harrison Phipps
 Opinions Editor

I am conscientiously objecting to voting in the upcoming 2016 presidential election. This is not to simply “throw my vote away” as many would suggest. I am sticking with the actual implication of this term.

Historically, conscientious objection is an objection to serving in the military or armed forces for moral convictions, religious beliefs, or physical inability in some cases. I am using the term to describe the refusal to make a choice based on moral principles.

There is no morally good choice to make here. In the past, I wrote on the need for moral legislators and that they all have the same agency that we possess as individuals. In this particular election, neither Trump nor Clinton possess the necessary moral qualifications to be fit for office.

One can speculate about what the results will be in this election, but it holds that it will simply be speculation. While some argue for Trump in favor of getting a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, there is only one available spot currently, and the grim predictions of deaths of other justices is speculation.

While I am in favor of a more conservative Supreme Court due to its recent line of activist rulings, the possibility of an established liar following through on what he claims is not something I am willing to place bets on.

The same logic is used consistently to say that there is little to no grounds for belief that either candidate will follow through on the policies that they promised or will act any different than they have in their lives prior.

A quick synopsis of the moral objections to putting either of these people in office would be the following:

Trump has had a history of extortion, preying on the poor, gambling, aiding the pornography industry, and careless bigotry; all of which, despite his recent shifts towards conservatism, demonstrate who he is when not under scrutiny.

Clinton supports unregulated abortions, has demonstrated her carelessness with the lives of the troops, has demonstrated near-criminal negligence, seeks to legalize euthanasia, and wants to further enforce her will on the lawful interpretation of gender and sex.

In this situation, it can hardly be said which is a lesser evil, or which one has the greatest redeeming factors. The case against both candidates is so great that the classical choice of who is less flawed holds little relevance. Rather, we are left with the choice of two equally bad candidates.

It should also be apparent that a vote for evil—even a lesser evil—is still just that, a vote for evil. Although there will never be a perfect candidate, I respect my right to stick by my moral convictions and say neither choice is better, and I will not vote in favor for either evil.

With this in mind, conscientious objection is not a total withdrawal. It is a statement to be made on an individual basis and is not something to be taken lightly.

By no means is this neglecting to vote in any election. Rather, there is an obligation with suffrage that we practice this right. Voting in every other office where a clear greater or lesser choice can be made is an ideal, as it allows the greatest good to come from what is viable.

Although there are many other options available, such as the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, or various write-in options, it does not take too much of analysis for one to demonstrate their current lack of viability. While this is subject to change, current polls and statistics indicate little change to historical precedence.

This does not discount the meaning behind alternative votes. However, due to their lack of viability, it is primarily just a statement, a statement of dissatisfaction with the current system, and in favor of the policies supported by that candidate.

It is not the same message sent by conscientious objection, but the chances of alternatives winning are slim-to-none. In no way is it impossible for them to win or for them to have greater sway and influence, but it is highly unlikely to the point that even a vote in another candidate’s favor would be similar to the moral message I am sending.

Conscientious objection serves to show that my morality, my values and beliefs, are not separate from the way that I interact in the world. I do not falter in my convictions though others might. It might be easy to exchange what is best for something that works, but my beliefs and values are worth more than thirty pieces of silver. I will not be subjugated by the corrupted system set in place by those who came before me.

Categories: Columns, Opinions, Uncategorized

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