Saturday, March 12, 2016

How to not elect Donald Trump

The 2016 Presidential Election has been a crazy one. I haven't followed many during my life, but I don't think it take a genius to recognize that no election has ever received as much attention from the people of the United States as this one. I think that this will result in some great things such as higher voter turnout and a better understanding of the electoral process. However, I think we are all more worried about the looming potential negative effect of this election: Donald Trump could be our next President.

Facebook has been full of posts about why Donald Trump (or Drumpf as we #makedonalddrumpfagain supporters like to call him) should not be elected president. I think it's great that so many are becoming so politically involved and that so many people are recognizing Drumpf for the person that he is. I think its great that we are attempting to educate the people around us as to the potential results of electing Drumpf. I believe that these posts will help people to oppose his election. However, I think that the time to "oppose Donald Trump" has passed and the time to "not elect Donald Trump" has come.

I am not a political scientist, but I do have at least a basic understanding of how the nomination/election process works. More importantly, I have some knowledge about the power of social media and its effectiveness in spreading ideas. If any of the readers is a political scientist or has a greater understanding of the effect of social media, please correct me as needed in the comments. That being said, I do have some basic ideas on how to move from the "oppose Donald Trump" phase to the "not elect Donald Trump" phase.

Support another candidate on social media
All of the anti-Trump posts floating around Facebook have undoubtedly helped many people oppose Trump, but there effectiveness is decreasing. I believe that at this point, most people who are in favor of Trump would still be in favor of Trump even if he did "stand out on 5th avenue and shoot someone".

In order to defeat Trump, we should not focus on removing his supporters, but rather adding to the supporters of other Republican candidates. I would like to see fewer anti-Trump posts and more pro-Rubio and pro-Cruz posts. Honestly, I think that even seeing some anti-Rubio and anti-Cruz posts would be helpful; right now they just need posts. Any media is good media and Trump is getting it all.

If you haven't picked out a candidate to support, go ahead and watch some Republican debates on YouTube, take this online quiz to see which candidates policies match your beliefs (and see detailed output about why), and check out Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz's official websites. If you are not supporting one of Trumps opponents, then you really aren't opposing him.

Vote in your state's Republican Primary
Over the last several elections, the voter turnout for general presidential election has been around 50-55%. This is sad as far as what it tells about the political involvement of our nations population, but it is also great news when it comes to our ability to change. This means that each vote counts for about twice as much as it would if everyone were voting. Primaries, however, tend to get around the ball park of 10% (varying from around 0.5% to 25% depending on the state and year) which means your vote in a primary is about 10 times as valuable as it would be if everyone voted. If 10% of Trump's voters vote in each state primary, and 100% of people who oppose Trump voted in each primary, then the majority would vote against Trump even if 90.9% of the state's population was in favor of Trump. Now of course we aren't going to see 100% turnout against Trump and we will likely see more than 10% voter turnout amongst those who favor Trump in many states, but you get the idea: if lots of us turnout, we have a good shot.

Many US citizens (myself included) have never voted in a primary election before. This would be a great election for a first time. At this point I'll have to call on more knowledgable people to correct me in the comments, but it is my understanding that for most or all states the registration to vote in the primaries is the same as the registration for the general election. So if you are registered to vote in your state, then you are registered to vote in your state's primary election as well. However, your eligibility to vote in the primary may depend on whether you declared affiliation with a party when you registered.

In general, there are three categories of primary elections:
  1. Open primary: anyone who is registered can vote
  2. Closed primary: only those who registered with the primary's party may vote
  3. Semi closed primary: you can vote if you are registered with the primary's party or registered as unaffiliated, but not if you registered as affiliated with another party.
There are some other types of primaries as well, but these three are the most common. You can lookup the type of the primaries in your state at On the same site, you can also lookup the 2016 primary schedule to know when your state's primaries will be occurring. Go ahead and register today, it will only take a few minutes. Then set an alarm in your phone to remind you to vote on your state's primary election day.

Now that you've registered and marked your calendar, who should you vote for? Well I won't make that call for you, but here are some thoughts. In general voters follow one of two strategies: vote for the person who you want to win, or vote for the person who you can stand and who is most likely to beat the people who you can't stand. On one hand, the second strategy maximizes your probability of affecting the outcome of the election so it is sometimes wise to group together even if you would rather that someone else won. However, I think that in the case of this election, you might do well to vote for whoever you want to win. Voting for anyone (other than Trump of course) is a vote against Trump because if he wins less than 50% of the votes (or is it 50% of the states?) in the primaries then the Republican Nomination Committee will do something called a brokered convention. Basically, in a brokered convention, the Committee can nominate whoever they want and the rumor is that they will not select Mr. Trump.

Share these thoughts on social media
You only have one vote, but you can affect many more. Use that same passion that we have all had while we were sharing anti-trump posts on Facebook and share some comments in favor of other candidates or in favor of primary voter participation in general.

If you found any information in the post helpful, please share this with your friends.