“Voting My Conscience,” Re:Consider

Joel Michael Herbert
5 min readJun 3, 2019
Photo by Marco Oriolesi on Unsplash

One of the most sacred duties we have as American citizens is the right to vote. For whatever holes in the system you might think there are, or mechanisms that stifle the democratic process and keep the status quo intact, the fact remains that we still have the right to vote, and however small our voice may be in a single vote, it is still powerful, and yes — it still makes a difference, especially when raised in tandem with thousands or millions of like-minded individuals.

If you doubt that, just look at the last decade of national politics: the unlikely rise and victory of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and the “almost-wins” of Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke in historically hostile territory, on the left; on the right, the ascendancy of the Tea Party and names like Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz to national prominence, of course culminating in the nomination victory and eventual election of Donald Trump.

Yes, my friends. Your voice matters. When you unite it with others, it matters very much indeed.

In every election cycle, someone talks about “voting your conscience.” Every year, almost without exception, one of the two major party candidates is distasteful in some way to a large portion of their own voting bloc, so there arises all manner of chatter about “voting with your nose plugged” or some odd metaphor like that. For example, most of my friends on both the left and right in 2016 were less than enthusiastic about casting their eventual votes for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and I know many people who voted for the Green Party or the Libertarian Party in protest, citing, of course, “voting their conscience.” I have been one of them, in more than one election.

I want to talk about this idea of voting your conscience for a moment, but well before the general election, as nowis when such a concept really matters. Too often, so many of us wait until a general election to learn anything at all about the candidates, minimally involved in the primary or campaigning processes. Then we love to complain when the guy or gal that gets their party’s nomination — that “I don’t like either of them,” defaulting to the ever-present “lesser of two evils” voting philosophy; or else, if you’re in the brave 4% of non-conformists, garnering the ire of your die-hard party…

Joel Michael Herbert

Husband. Father. Artist. Storyteller. Armchair Theologian. Advocate, activist and politician. Gryffindor. [neuro]Divergent.