The Beacon’s presidential endorsement

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • October 19, 2016

At issue: The future of our nation.
Our take: Hillary Clinton is the only viable option.
 

During the first presidential debate in September, the two presidential candidates engaged in the standard ceremonial handshake before discussing the economy, social issues, and one another’s campaign strategies. In the second debate in October, the two did not shake hands, but they stood near one another and cordially nodded their heads. During the third debate, aired yesterday, October 19, 2016, the two walked straight to their podiums, maintaining a careful distance.

This distance dissipated during the debate. For the first 30 minutes, Trump kept a respectful stance, speaking in turn and responding to the questions on the dot. But almost exactly at the 31 minute mark, the debate devolved into crosstalk and accusations. Both candidates participated in this behavior, and were visibly disgusted and disgruntled with their competitor’s rhetoric, as viewed in the split-screen frame. But beyond this, we saw Trump continue his pattern of disrespect not only for his opponent, but for the American political system. He claimed the election was rigged. He constantly interrupted both Clinton and Chris Wallace, the moderator, just to throw in his characteristic response: “WRONG.” Multiple times, he held up a finger to Wallace and said, “Excuse me.” He changed the topic and made faces. His decorum was nonexistent.

This election cycle has gone the same way, becoming more and more divisive as months go by. The rhetoric has become more harsh. The political ads have aired more dirty laundry (e.g. emails, divorce papers, marital affairs, sexual assaults). The reins are flapping in the wind, and the American public is unhinged as well. In this climate, it may seem hopeless to participate in the election process. Especially since neither of the main party candidates are immune from mistakes. It can be tempting to vote third party—for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. It can be tempting to not vote at all, in protest or apathy. The Beacon editorial board believes these actions would be a grave error—which is why we’re endorsing Clinton.

In a perfect world, voting for a third party should be viable. Having several candidates to choose from would simply be more democratic. But the problem is that United States uses a “first-past-the-post” voting system. FPTP is familiar and straightforward; voter gets a ballot, chooses who they like the most, candidate with the most votes win. It sounds easy and logical, but it’s actually incredibly flawed — a vote for a third party in FPTP just pulls votes from the major party ideologically closer to yours and helps grant a win to the party farther from you. This isn’t just scare rhetoric — this is how it works. Look at the 1912 presidential election, where Theodore Roosevelt defected from the Republican party and ran as a Progressive. He split the party in two, pulling in 27.4 percent of the vote, while Republican William Howard Taft got 23.2 percent. That’s the sole reason that Democrat Woodrow Wilson won with only 41.8 percent. FPTP will inevitably neutralize third parties and devolve into a two-party system. (There are alternatives — Maine has a ballot initiative this year to adopt ranked-choice voting, which would completely eliminate the spoiler effect. Cross your fingers.)  And votes of protest, especially in this election, risk more harm than remedy. We’re aligned with this revolutionary thinking, and acknowledge how the two-party system limits our politics, but this year the stakes are too high.

For those of us hailing from swing states like Pennsylvania or New Hampshire, our vote matters more than most. According to FiveThirtyEight, all of the main battlegrounds of this election are already leaning blue; in fact, the site’s current projections put Clinton’s chance of winning overall at 87 percent. Ohio and Florida, arguably the most important states of the 2012 presidential elections, tip toward Clinton over Trump—64 to 36 percent in Ohio, and 75 to 25 percent in Florida. But don’t let polls inspire a false sense of confidence. These predictions can only become reality if everyone who says they will vote actually turns in their ballots. 

Clinton, throughout her political career, has worked to defend the rights of the vulnerable. Under a Trump presidency, the lives of already disenfranchised groups would be subject to increased oppression. We endorse Clinton because she stands up against intolerance. She stands for mental health reform, clean-energy programs, and fixing our biased criminal justice system. She believes in marriage equality, women’s rights, and the right of every American—regardless of their race, religion, or revenue—to lead a life free from the shackles of injustice.

As a student-run newspaper, we strive to give the Emerson student body a voice. Not a single shout, or a handful of murmurs, but a distinct and diverse chorus of individual and collective narratives. For the next four years, we want our voices to be heard by our president. And ultimately, we are endorsing Secretary Clinton because, as she said, “It really does come down to what kind of country we are going to have.”