On Not Casting a Vote for President

Soon we will be hearing the quadrennial chorus solemnly informing us that it is a citizen’s sacred obligation to vote. This mythical obligation is often cast in terms of the soldiers who died to protect our right to vote. Except they didn’t. They died protecting our freedom, which is not the same thing by a long shot.

And so I for one am having none of it. I have no intention of casting a ballot in the Presidential election. At least if the major candidates are named Trump and Clinton and there is no sensible alternative.

On January 20, 2017 the winner of the Presidential contest will raise his (or her) right hand and take the Oath of Office as mandated by Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution. It reads in full, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

That Constitution includes Article 2 Section 3, which says that, the “[The President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….” That language should give room for pause because it is readily apparent to roughly everybody that neither Mr. Trump nor Mrs. Clinton has the slightest intention of honoring the oath or of seeing to it that the laws are faithfully executed. Instead should either Trump or Clinton ascend to the White House, the winning contestant intends to ignore, avoid, and sometimes subvert, laws—and the rule of law—in service of political expediency.

Make no mistake; neither candidate has shown even a hint of restraint when it comes to the exercise of power. Nor has either candidate displayed the slightest concern for the protection of natural rights that are at the heart of the Constitutional order. (For that matter neither candidate has displayed a willingness to abide by Constitutional norms). Instead each candidate has demonstrated a willingness, if not eagerness, to trample on citizen’s rights for the purpose of self-aggrandizement.

How do we know this? The candidates themselves have all but said so. Consider just a small but telling sample of the record.

First we have Donald trump. He has specifically promised to deport approximately 11 million or so people in the U.S. that are here illegally by means of a specially created “Deportation Force”. And he would accomplish this in a mere 18 months to 2 years by “good management”. Mind you this is going to be accomplished by a government that takes 3 hours to get a few hundred people onto an airplane.


So let’s cut to the chase: forcibly deporting 11 million people in 2 years (all of whom are entitled to a hearing) would require hiring massive numbers of deportation police, prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys, not to mention kicking in doors and executing mass arrests without probable cause. Leaving aside the utter impossibility not to mention absurdity of all this, the 4th amendment would lie in tatters. And so would the rest of the Bill of Rights including the right to counsel, the prohibition against self-incrimination, the right of free-association and assorted privacy rights not expressly enumerated. In short, implementing Trump’s scheme would necessitate that the U.S. become a police state, perhaps modeled on the work of Vladimir Putin, a man for whom Trump has expressed  admiration.

Not to be outdone, there is Mrs. Clinton. That is the same Mrs. Clinton who used to bemoan “litmus tests” in the selection of nominees to the Supreme Court. But now Mrs. Clinton freely admits that she has come up with a litmus test of her own. That litmus test has to do with the Citizens United decision. In that case, Citizen’s United sought an injunction against the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to prevent the application of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act. Specifically, the FEC rule in question prevented corporations or labor unions from funding “electioneering communications” from their general treasuries. In striking down the FEC rule, a 5-4 majority of the Court held that the First Amendment does not permit the limiting of corporate funding of independent political broadcasts. The majority went on to say that political speech is indispensable in a democracy notwithstanding the fact that the funding of such speech comes from a corporation.

Mrs. Clinton disagrees or professes to disagree although she routinely hoovers up huge amounts of corporate cash. And she acknowledges that she now supports a litmus test for the purpose of overturning Citizens United. Having said that, Mrs. Clinton as usual, incorrectly frames the issues at stake, miscasting it as a contest between “a person’s right to vote and a billionaire’s right to buy an election”. There is no small irony in this since Mrs. Clinton has been in the access and policy selling business for years, now on an industrial scale through the Clinton Foundation, which is currently under investigation by the FBI. Not only that, but as Mrs. Clinton well knows, there is no right to buy any election, and never has been.

Mere corruption is not the issue however. It is Clinton’s willingness to trample on speech rights that is at the heart of the issue. It should also be noted that subsequent to the Citizen’s United case in September of 2014 Senator Charles Schumer (D, NY) proposed, an amendment to the First Amendment, which was co-sponsored by every single one of the Senate’s 48 Democratic Senators. The amendment was designed to grant legislatures the power to restrict political speech through rules regarding “contributions and expenditures intended to effect elections”.

Note that the Schumer amendment specifically identifies the target as political speech, which should leave no doubt that the purpose of the amendment is to erect a protective barrier to political competition by making it difficult for issue advocates to challenge incumbents on their policy choices. Note too that the Citizen’s United decision left in place the ban on corporate contributions to candidates. It held that citizens do not lose their speech rights when they band together through corporations (including non-profit ones like the Sierra Club) to advocate for policy positions. Thus the Clinton claim that the decision allows corporations to “buy” elections is thus exposed as yet another falsehood.


To sum up: neither Trump nor Clinton intends to honor the oath of office. We know this because they have told us so in their own words, over and over again. And so when January 20, 2017 rolls around the first official act of the probable next President will be to knowingly, willingly and deliberately lie under oath on TV for the entire world to see. And the people who voted for either Trump or Clinton will have acted as enablers.

I will not be one of them.




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