(With your mind, not your heart.)
Back in the early days we mixed personal, political, and philosophical views in with concrete5 business news on our blog frequently. Over time we did less and less of that as we didn't want to jeopardize solid relationships with people who love our product, but may have different world views. There's as many opinions as people after all, and every snow flake is unique. Today though, I find current events just too untenable. I'm dusting off my soap box once again. I promise this won't happen again soon, and I'm not going to tell you to vote for one candidate or another because there's plenty of resources out there for you to make an informed decision.
What I am going to ask is simple: If you've ever enjoyed the product of our labor, if you've ever sent an email, tweet, or just idle thought my way of "I'd love concrete5 and wish I could give back in some way" I'm cashing in now. Read this with an open mind, and please vote.
1) Please vote.
If you're an American, it is absolutely important to vote this year. I am abroad with my family traveling across Europe. We're not going to be in one place for more than 7 days, and we were able to figure out how to do it. The USA is the biggest functioning democracy in the world. We're the land of the free and millions have died for your right to vote. The fact that we run a 55% turn out for national elections on a good year is embarrassing.
Both political parties have to focus on getting voters to simply turn out, and that drives them to their ridiculous extremes in positioning. If they don't jabber on for the crazies, the crazies wont come out to vote - and sadly they're the dependable ones. Take a look at the Austrialians who have a mandatory vote (or pay a fine) and enjoy a 98% turn out. Their major political parties are just a touch left and right of center and they spend 2 months on an election, not 2 years and $5 billion.
You are not making a statement by not voting. What you're doing is saying "I don't care," and that's sad. No political party is thinking "gee 45% of Americans don't vote, we should get get into this line of work..." Both political parties ARE thinking "gee only 55% of these people even care enough to bother at all, I better make sure I do whatever I can to get my half of the half of those votes." Remember Mitt Romney's infamous '47% of people don't matter...' comment? Don't prove him right.
Many people died for your right to do this. Don't be a sucker. Take the effort to vote, even if you don't "love" either candidate.
2) It's a choice between two candidates at this point, it's not an essay contest.
When you vote, recognize the decision you are making. For better or worse, today we have a two party political system in the USA. Maybe a multi-party system would work better here, maybe not - that's a poly-sci argument for another day. Could we swap out the Dems or Gop with a new party? Sure, that could happen as it has in the past. That starts from the bottom up however. You want a Green, Libertarian, or Progressive president? Fair enough, vote for people from those parties for your local and state government. Get some of those people in power locally, get some more in power in national congress. Once that starts to happen you might very quickly see a splintering of either major party and an exodus of the power brokers into a new group that better represents what you want for the future of the USA.
Today, voting for a 3rd party for president isn't a protest vote, it's a vote in the trash. "Protest" assumes that there is a single system or bureaucracy that needs some mass of people to be happy in order to function. You protest a business that is behaving poorly, and they change their behavior after feeling the fiscal pain your protest creates. You protest a university that isn't listening to their student base, and they change their behavior after feeling the bad PR from their community.
There is no "them" that are listening to your "protest vote" in this situation. There is no board room of power brokers that are going to have an emergency meeting in November and say "geesh, there's a pile of angry protest votes bubbling up, we better re-do this election before we all get fired!" You want a 3rd party player? Vote people in from those parties in local elections where they might have a chance to win. Get involved in helping those people prove their chops. With time and effort, you can totally change the system this way.
The primaries were the time to be picky and make statements. The truth of the matter is what you have now is a simple choice: Trump or Hillary. Point blank. You may not like that, hell I'm not that happy about it either, but that's where we got. This isn't a therapy session for you, this is a simple decision - like your bet in a poker game. Whatever may have happened before now, what ever might happen next, your vote for president right now is between these two people. Are you in our out?
So ... to review (TL:DR so far)--
1) Vote. If you don't, millions of grandparents died for nothing. Seriously.
2) Vote for one of the two people who could realistically win and become the leader of the free world and most powerful person on earth. 3rd parties don't get started by winning the presidency, you gotta run before you walk.
And now on to #3...
3) Vote with your logical mind, not your emotions.
Let's be clear, today the USA runs the world. You don't have to like that, but we bought that responsibility from the brits during WWII with the Lend-Lease act. International trade happens in our currency, we're the largest economy, and we have a military that is the largest and most effective mankind has ever had. Yes of course we're far from perfect and there's lots of room for improvement. I'm not saying we're amazing, I'm just saying for better or worse, today, we lead the world. The world needs us to be a stable coherent force, so each of us little people can wake up and go to work and depend on our kids being safe, or bank accounts being safe, and bread costing a predicable amount. There are parts of the world where this is not the case yet, and that is horrible. If you look at 5,000 years of history however, collectively we've never had it so stable and so easy for as many people as we do today. This does not happen by accident. If we start behaving erratically, the world will follow suit.
I understand that things could be better for a lot of us here. I grew up in Cleveland, I've lived in the South, I agree that globalization has been unkind to middle america. We can, and are, slowly fixing that. I get that it's emotionally satisfying to think that there's a bad guy we can build a wall to keep out and rewind time 50 years, but boogie men were invented for a reason. The simplest way to bring people together is to give them something to hate. It is also the most dangerous thing.
Time and time again in history this has happened. Every time it ends poorly. A series of small allowances and turning of a blind eye results in a horror that no one would have initially wanted. People who allowed themselves to make decisions based on greed, anger, fear or simply a selfish "it's time I got mine" attitude. The next thing you know "the others" are starving in camps somewhere. This still happens in Africa and the Middle East sometimes today. This happened in Europe 80 years ago. It's happened to big powerful empires that thought they were too big to fail, allowed themselves to be momentarily driven by hate and fear, and ended up reaping the seeds that they sowed.
Vote with logic. Who of these two has the experience to keep the world stable and make our country a bit of a better place?
Don't vote with your heart, matters of the heart are what dramas are written about - and most end quite poorly.
Vote for the person you think will help everyone. Don't just vote for who will help you personally the most. You're voting for your kids. You're voting for the rest of the billions of people on earth who aren't US citizens but depend on our country leading the way. Certainly don't vote against your real needs, but don't be selfish when you sit down and use logic to decide who is the best choice. It's a choice you are lucky enough to make, and EVERYONE has to live with.
There are plenty of resources out there for you to logically make a reasoned decision about who will keep the world safe and the USA prospering better for the next 4-8 years. Don't be lazy and just cop out and not vote. Don't be a squeaky wheel with no audience throw away the valuable responsibility in an anonymous "protest vote" because you didn't get your #1 choice. Don't vote with your "gut" for the person who makes you feel bad ass. This isn't a startup that can "fail hard." This is serious stuff.
We're leading mankind into a future that no wall can stop. The world is going to become a smaller and smaller place because of the technology we're building. We need to have deliberate, thoughtful, predicable reasoned leadership - or we will actually fail. In this case that doesn't mean a bankruptcy filing, it means war, death, starvation and horror.
Understand how important this responsibility is. Do some real soul searching and research, and vote with your mind for either Hillary or Trump. Vote for whoever you think is most qualified to lead the world in a direction you think will make it better for everyone.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled CMS tech news.. Thank you for caring enough to think on this.