11 Reasons It's More Important Than Ever For Democrats To Voice Their Opinion On The Election

The 2016 presidential election has been framed as a contest between two evils, but that's not really fair. There are two major candidates differing in nearly all ways: expertise, ideology, and even plain common decency. What's your opinion? Do you support the first mainstream female candidate, who has served as a senator and secretary of state? Or a businessman who has no experience in political office? I think the choice could not be easier, but not everyone has made it yet. These are 11 reasons it's important to voice your opinion on the election, and why you should do it now.

Perhaps you assume a Trump presidency can never happen. Don't. The odd polls show him ahead, and already Clinton and Trump are being lumped together on Facebook as equally bad choices. "Why bother voting?" some might ask. I've never seen a clearer path to voter apathy and staying home in November. For the record, they are not equally bad choices. There are so many reasons to bother, to care, and to be educated about this election. And then tell everyone you know, too. Democrats cannot accidentally elect Trump by not voting.

Here's your guide to why you need to do everything you can (i.e. literally preach from the rooftops), if you're a Democrat, to make sure this doesn't happen.

1. Fair Immigration Policies


Don't forget that SCOTUS just put the breaks on Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) expansions, which would have let parents of American citizens stay in the country legally as we await comprehensive immigration reform from Congress. A new justice to the Supreme Court is needed to break the tie, and Trump could stop both programs with an executive order.

2. The Continued Fight For Trans Rights

PBS NewsHour on YouTube

You heard Sarah McBride at the DNC. And if you didn't, I implore you to watch her speech right now. The first openly transgender speaker at a national convention — Republican or Democratic — had a powerful message:

Today in America, LGBTQ people are targeted by hate that lives in both laws and hearts. Many still struggle just to get by. But I believe tomorrow can be different. Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected — especially if Hillary Clinton is our president. And that's why I'm proud to say that I'm with her.

The Democrats who have made the Obama Administration the most trans-friendly ever will continue the fight, standing by students in schools and workers in the workplace who decide to transition. Not to mention how trans healthcare that has been made immensely better with Obamacare, something Trump would repeal.

3. Bernie Sanders' College Plan

Free college was a significant feature of Sanders' campaign. Being able to graduate without debt would be huge for millions of Americans. Well, guess what: Just because Sanders' campaign is done does not mean this dream is. Clinton actually borrowed many aspects of his plan and wound it into hers. Then, at the DNC, she said she'd work with him on the issue moving forward. A vote for Clinton on education reform will get you nearly everything that a vote for Sanders would have. Make sure your friends paying back their student loans know that there's help planned for them, too, in the reform of refinancing and more repayment plans.

4. Medicare For Everybody

The same goes for universal healthcare — well, sort of. Clinton came around on the issue, somewhat in a concession to Sanders and his supporters. People 55 and older could sign up for Medicare, and everybody else would have the choice of a public option. Not exactly starting from scratch, as Sanders proposed. This would still mean further healthcare reform, and building on the success of Obamacare while bringing down costs.

5. A Living Wage Could Be A Thing

Another bit of confusion that remains from the primary is that Clinton doesn't support a minimum living wage of $15 per hour. That's not true. She supports it in parts of the country with a high cost of living, just not places like rural Kansas. You don't need New-York-City-level wages to survive there. It might not sound fair, but it's really better for economies everywhere in the country if we decide what it costs to live somewhere and develop a wage that's suitable.

6. Voting For A Third Party Can Be Risky

Historically, it's been difficult to elect a third-party candidate. Matthew Rozsa, a Ph.D student, for example, wrote for Salon why now is not the time to put ideological purity over practicality. "Presidential elections aren’t just about principles; they’re about human lives," he wrote. In some elections, there's not much of a difference between the Democrat and Republican. This is not one of those elections.

For all the reasons I've pointed out above, and a few more (Rozsa pointed to Clinton's potential infrastructure spending), the right thing to do is to vote for Clinton, because in the end it's either Trump or her, and her policies help people. His policies — including "trickle down racism" — would only hurt. A vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson would show there are Americans from a broader ideological spectrum, but during the next four years Trump would still potentially be president.

7. It Can Be As Easy As Facebook

What you put online can actually skew voter turnout, according to a study published in 2012 by Nature. They looked at people who were shown a message that their friends had voted to see if their voting habits changed — and they did. As many as 340,000 votes nationwide happened thanks to the Facebook "I voted" feature. But don't wait until Election Day. Engage your friends now and convince them to be passionate, because the election might be closer than we care to acknowledge now.

8. Engage Your Friends And The Electorate Could Skew Younger


One of the most frustrating aspects of U.S. elections is who decides them — aka the people who actually go out to vote. People under 30 just don't vote at the same rates as older folks, so spread the word! The odds are that your social network, both online and real, skews a lot younger than the voter rolls do. Older voters are really dedicated (in 2012, nearly 70 percent of people 65 and over voted, 18-to-24-year-olds just 38 percent). Politicians therefore count them among their most loyal constituents. Turnout among Latinos and Asian Americans also tends to be low, but all groups should vote more.

9. Your Second Cousin Lives In Ohio

If you are all about Clinton but live in New York or California, we have a bit of a problem. You're not going to decide this election, because it's not actually the popular vote that puts someone in the White House. You should definitely still vote, but the Americans who really decide things live elsewhere. It's going to be your childhood friend who moved to Pennsylvania, or your grandparents who just retired to Florida.

That's because of the way the Electoral College works. Votes in swing states have more of a sway on the national level. Each state gets a number of Electoral College votes equal to its number of senators and representatives in Congress. Whoever wins the most votes in each state — this year, likely Clinton or Trump — gets all of its Electoral College votes. So some states are definitely going for Clinton, and others, like Texas or Wyoming, will definitely go for Trump. Then there are the swing states, which have a split population between the two.

It's here where the campaigns focus, because such states are up for grabs, you might say. The margin of support for each candidate is close enough that it could still go either way. So these are the people who get the biggest say. Their votes are vital because the count could come down to just a few hundred, like in 2000. You don't have to relocate to a swing state, but you might want to aim your argument in the direction of the people who do live there already.

10. Just A Teensy Percentage Of Voters Could Elect Trump

Take a look at this. The GOP primary failed to stop a candidate the party by and large despised. And it only took a small percentage of Americans to do so. Just 9 percent elected Clinton and Trump in the primaries. The difference between the two parties is that the Democratic delegates were awarded proportionally, while most of the GOP ones were not. That caused some of Trump's opponents to drop out earlier, while Sanders kept fighting on.

The exact numbers for who voted Trump aren't broken down, but if you take a look at this New York Times interactive piece, you'll get an idea of just how small it was. That 9 percent is both votes for Clinton and Trump, so in theory, he got just under 4.5 percent (she took home more votes than he did). So when you break down the population of the United States who voted for Trump, it's remarkably minuscule. This small group of people are Trump's core supporters, and they will have a yuge voice on the national stage.

11. Don't Boo; Explain Your Vote

PBS NewsHour on YouTube

President Obama said it at the DNC: "Don't boo. Vote." But that's really not enough. Just as there are plenty of voters who might opt for a third-party candidate, there will be plenty who decide to stay home in 2016, perhaps even after voting for Obama twice. Why? They're complaining, or booing, if you will, about their choice of candidates.

Explain why you like Clinton, not just why you prefer her to Trump. And if you don't like Clinton, explain how you hope she will adopt or prioritize certain policies. Explain what you believe she can do better. This election isn't just about stopping him. In Obama's opinion, she's a great candidate who's better prepared than any who have come before her.