To those who still believe that “or bust” is a reasonable choice this election cycle:

In_Your_Guts__You_Know_He's_Nuts

It occurs to me that Republicans have not only given us Donald Trump (who is, after all, a natural and logical result of increasingly extremist Republican ideology) they’ve also given us Dems and left leaning independent voters who can’t tell the difference between a legitimately dangerous candidate and a politician they just don’t like.

Think about it: for years now, it’s been Republicans shouting nonsense about death panels and FEMA camps and religious persecution. And we know this is nonsense, so we’ve learned to tune it all out. It’s just noise. Now we’re dealing with a candidate who actually advocates torture, actually advocates killing the spouses and children of perceived enemies, actually wants to round up and deport or deny entrance to or otherwise persecute people based on religion or ethnicity. And to top it off, he’s a thin-skinned, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist proven liar with poor impulse control, a bad temper, zero experience in governing and not even a rudimentary understanding of public policy.

And yet, we still have progressive, left-leaning voters who are confused enough to believe that a candidate they dislike is “just as bad” as the frightengly unstable Republican nominee, and therefore don’t know who to pick, or who want to cast a protest vote or non-vote, or worst of all, think that it might be better if this dangerous lunatic gets into office and starts blowing things up, possibly literally (Looking at you, Susan Sarandon).

The only conclusion I can come to is that some have grown so used to tuning out hysterical Republicans crying wolf over disaster and danger and despots that they’re now ignoring legitimate warning signs of disaster and danger and despots.

Listen up, undecideds and potential protest voters, burn-it-all-down voters, and non-voters: there is no universe in which any prominent politician in our current landscape or in our recent history is “just as bad” as Donald Trump. If Donald Trump were the Dem nominee, I would crawl over hot coals to cast a vote for Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan or whoever. I’d give W. a third term if that was what it took to stop Trump. Now, I don’t like any of those guys. I think they’d be terrible presidents. I think W. was a terrible president. My life and the lives of people I care about would be worse under those presidents. Possibly dramatically so.

But they are not as dangerous as Donald Trump. Not even close.

You don’t have to like Hillary Clinton. She’s not going to be your prom date or your BFF. You can even continue to ignore her detailed plans for progressive policies and her lifelong history of fighting for women, children, and marginalized people if it makes you feel better to imagine her as some evil sorceress.

But if you care about not being a country that condones torture, you need to vote for her in November.

If you care about religious freedom – even for people who don’t share your religion – you need to vote for her.

If you care about due process, and about not punishing family members or children for something someone else did, you need to vote for her.

If you care about not handing nuclear codes to someone who is visibly, obviously unstable and short on self control, you need to vote for her.

You can go back to hating her the minute you walk out of the voting booth. You can bitch about her for the next four years. You can pour time, effort, and money into electing Congress members that will prevent her from doing whatever it is you think she’ll do wrong and who will push through legislation that you like (take a look at the republicans; they’re good at this. Here’s a hint: it involves showing up for the midterms.) But you have to vote for her.

Bernie Sanders agrees with me. President Obama agrees with me. Elizabeth Warren agrees with me. Keith Ellison agrees with me. Raúl Grijalva agrees with me. Ruth Bader Ginsburg agrees with me. If you consider yourself a progressive, these are your people. And they want you to vote for Hillary. They know, better than you and I do, how dangerous and destructive a Trump presidency could be.

Outside the US, the rest of the world wants you to vote for Hillary. This affects them too. Not only do we not deserve Donald Trump, the rest of the world does not deserve to have Donald Trump let loose on them.

Gary Johnson will not win. Jill Stein will not win. Neither one has enough core support for a few handfuls of disaffected Dems and left-leaners to put them over the top. Or even get them to the middle. You might be able to make Hillary lose by voting for them, but you can’t make them win.

Also, protest votes? Those aren’t a thing. The voting machine neither knows nor cares about your rationalization for your choice. Protest nonvotes are even less of a thing. No one will know or care why you stayed home.

You have a binary choice: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. One of those two will walk into the Oval in January. Elections have consequences, and you’d better be damn sure you can live with them before you cast your vote.

Republicans, conservatives, and tea partiers will do what they will. I imagine they’ll mostly vote for their guy. It’s what they do. Diehard Libertarians and Greens will also do their thing. You can’t control any of that. But if you are not in those groups, and *especially* if you call yourself a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive, a Socialist, a lefty, or any similar thing, you need to stop tuning out the danger warnings, because this time, they’re real. They’re not a carefully orchestrated smear campaign, they’re coming straight from the candidate’s mouth (and Twitter account.) This is not a test. It’s the real deal. The way you stand up for your political beliefs in this cycle is by voting for Hillary Clinton. You can look for purity or perfection some other time. Just not this year. This year, you need to vote for Hillary Clinton.

You may be pleasantly surprised. I’m a die-hard bleeding heart liberal, and I’m more than happy with Hillary. You might try really looking into her platform and reviewing her actual background and record, instead of a political opponent’s distortion of her platform, background, and record. Keep an open mind.

But if you’re still not satisfied, you still need to vote for her anyway. Not because I say so. Not because Bernie Sanders says so. Not because of party loyalty. Not even because the alternative will take us even further away from the goals and values of progressives (though that is certainly something to consider.) You need to do it because progressives care about this country and this planet. You need to do it because choosing between a politician you don’t like and a dangerous demagogue is fundamentally different from simply choosing between two politicians you simply don’t like. You could justify sitting out or protest voting when you don’t like the two main candidates. But when one of them is a dangerous demagogue, you have a responsibility to your fellow man to try to stop him.

You need to do it because Donald Trump is unfit, unqualified, and unhinged, and a Donald Trump presidency is unthinkable.

You have a few months between now and November, so you have time to warm up to the idea. But start working on it. When Election Day comes, I’m counting on you, fellow liberals, progressives, Democrats, and assorted left-wingers, to do the right thing. For me. For yourself. For the rest of the world. It matters. Don’t blow it.

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