“I don’t care what anybody says. I’m writing Bernie onto the ballot. I’m not settling for bullshit.”
The young man with the Bernie Sanders hat stormed out the door of Pete’s Garage. He’d stopped to pick up his car after an oil change, and made the mistake of getting into a conversation with Frank Jackson, an exuberant Hillary fan. It hadn’t gone well.
Pete said, “Frank, if you keep discussing politics with the customers, I’ll have to retire a lot earlier. There’ll be no customers left.”
“I’m sorry, Pete, but he started it with that line about how Bernie’s campaign was stolen. I reminded him he’s wasting his vote. From there, it all went downhill.”
Pete just rolled his eyes. “Come on back to the office. Dave brought pizza today, and I’ll bet Mike’s already got the box open.”
Within seconds, Pete Cheyanna and three of his friends, Dave Goodman, Frank Jackson, and Mike Kettrel gathered around a scratched and stained wooden desk where the group meets for lunch almost every week. Once everybody had a first piece of pizza, Dave asked the obvious question. “What was all the noise out there?”
Between bites, Pete answered. “The usual. Frank got into it with a young guy wearing a Bernie Sanders hat. The only thing they agreed on was how much they hated Donald Trump. Things were fine when they were going on about Trump being a jerk, but when they got down to particulars, like what they want to do about it, the shit hit the fan.”
Dave said, “Look guys, I brought lunch today. Couldn’t we have one day when you leave Trump alone. I like the man. He says what needs to be said. And I still think he’ll build that wall.”
Mike was immediately into sarcastic mode. “Yeah, and make Mexico pay for it! Right.”
“Some days I’m not sure why we’re friends,” laughed Dave. “We are an unlikely crew. You guys got no respect.”
“That’s what the angry young man thought when Frank told him he’d be wasting his vote,” said Pete.
Mike came right back with, “Well, think about it. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president. That’s it. Those are your options, ‘A’ or ‘B.’ If you vote for anybody else, as in some option ‘C,’ like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or Bernie Sanders, what you’re saying is ‘You guys decide. Whatever you say is okay with me.’”
Frank said, “Well, that’s not exactly what this kid’s thinking. He called it some kind of protest vote, like sending a message saying they’re not going to put up with this crap anymore. I tried to tell him. He’s overlooking the fact that messages require two parts.
“There’s a sender and there’s supposed to be a receiver, but in this case nobody’s out there listening. He and his friends can send all the signals they want. They can vote for Bernie, or anybody else, or even stay home on election day. But when there’s nobody out there listening, there is no real message. What do you think Pete?”
Pete said, “I think the voting your conscience people are more about ego than anything else. They got beat in the caucuses and primaries, fair or not, and they feel victimized. Nobody told them politics isn’t fair. They aren’t ready to quit, and the only thing left is saying you won’t cooperate with the flawed system.”
Mike nodded. “Well, I have to agree with the sentiment. It is a flawed system.”
Pete swallowed and said, “But this year the cost of making a point is too high. In 2000, when Ralph Nader and all the other third party candidates delivered the election to George Bush, I could live with that. I wanted Al Gore; he would have been a better president, but Bush was not a bad man. This time, in the minds of everyone but Dave here, Donald Trump is a nasty piece of work. He would be a disaster. Trump is morally and intellectually unfit to be President of the United States.”
Dave, with a mouthful of pizza, waved his hand in an attempt to interrupt, but couldn’t quite get the words out.
“Hold on Dave, let me finish. You have a right to your opinion, and you’ll vote for him. I also have a right to make the switch from Sanders to Clinton. She’ll make a fine president. She’s been attacked for so long that if half of it were true, somebody would have come up with more than accusations. I’m reminded of what they’ve spent the last eight years doing to President Obama.”
This time Dave,very loudly, managed to get the words out. “Not my President!”
Pete grabbed the last piece of pizza, and stood up to signal lunch was over. “Finally, I like to think of electing the president as hiring somebody to do a job for us. We don’t have to be friends. We don’t have to think he’s a nice person. Picking a friend would be nice, but what’s important is that she can do the job. We’ve whittled all the candidates down to these two. One is imperfect. The other is an absolute disaster. The choice is easy. We don’t have the option of telling the selection committee to go back and start over. This is the real world, and these two are what we’ve got.
What do you think?