Why I’m Planning to Vote for Gary Johnson

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot, in good conscience, vote for Donald Trump, vote for Hillary Clinton, or not vote at all. I am disillusioned with the idea that our elections are a game where my vote is a strategic way to stop the “other” party from winning, rather than a vote in favor of a decent candidate, and I want to help send the message to the establishment parties that continuing to put up, or accept, shoddy candidates will not be eternally rewarded. Yes, some decent candidates may have made it into the primaries, but the final choices are indicative of a serious problem: our election process is a circus and the best act wins. The rest of us lose. So I’m planning to vote for Gary Johnson.

Governor Gary Johnson. Photo Courtesy of the Johnson-Weld campaign: https://www.johnsonweld.com/

Governor Gary Johnson. Photo courtesy of the Johnson-Weld campaign: www.johnsonweld.com

Am I a Libertarian? By some definitions. By other definitions, absolutely not. “Full Libertarian” seems to be synonymous with “anarchist” in some circles, so I feel the need to give this disclaimer: I am not an anarchist. I believe in driver licenses and the FDA. My group of friends can self-govern well enough, for instance, but the people who are shooting each other throughout the country and the people on Twitter who think the U.S. is 2016 years old cannot.

I am a libertarian-leaning Republican whose “Proud to be a Republican” pin is currently buried in a box under mementos and shame.

I believe that, in general, the government that governs best is that which governs least.

I most want a government that will make taxes easy and leave me alone.

And I want to tell the Republicans, the Democrats, and the two-party system that it’s past time to put up or shut up.

So, unless something crazy happens, I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson this fall.

People are peculiarly dismissive of Gary Johnson. “He can’t win.” “He stuck out his tongue in that one interview.” “Doesn’t he believe [weird anarchist policy that he’s never mentioned, ever]?” “I can’t vote for him; he said [thing I’d immediately dismiss if Trump/Clinton said it].”

I believed it was “throwing away my vote” to vote for a third party when I was in the College Republicans during the McCain/Obama election. I was very excited to help, but my excitement faded as I waved signs and made phone calls for a guy about whom I could only say, “He’s better than Obama. I think.”

This year, it’s tremendously worse.

And this year, there’s a third-party candidate who has a shot at winning, largely because so many people are disgruntled. In fact, if everyone who said, “I’d vote for him, but he’ll never win” actually voted for him, there’s a good chance he would win.

“But that’s a vote for [Trump or Clinton]!” For those of you who are less idealistic than I am: What if you could pair up with someone of the “other” side who, like you, wants to vote for someone other than Trump or Clinton, but is afraid of burning his or her vote and “really” voting in favor of the “worse” candidate? Then the Republican won’t vote for the Republican, the Democrat won’t vote for the Democrat, and you can vote for someone else in peace, knowing your vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders or whoever wasn’t secretly a vote for Clinton/Trump/Scary Person. There is actually a service for that! Visit Burn My Vote (http://www.burnmyvote.org/) to sign up with one of your Facebook friends or a stranger somewhere in the U.S. You have no excuse anymore.

Thank you for reading, and have a nice election season.

Why I’m Not Playing Pokémon GO

I grew up with Pokémon. As a kid, I woke up early every weekday morning to watch the show before school. I collected the cards, I collected all things Pikachu, and I heartily enjoyed the GameBoy games. I liked to wear my Ash Ketchum hat and pretend I was Ashley Ketchum, Pokémon master extraordinaire. When I first saw mention of Pokémon GO on Facebook, it looked like a childhood dream come true. Yeah, it’s smartphone-level augmented reality, but the imagination fills in the blanks. Hey, it encourages you to explore landmarks, too? We just moved to a new city with lots of cool stuff, so this will be great! Back when I was in college, when I first heard about Foursquare, I joined just because of the now-gone badge-based exploration incentives.

All things considered, I should have been easy pickin’s.

The day Pokémon GO officially debuted in the U.S., I had just finished re-reading the old Sailor Moon manga. It’s not a short series, and I’m not great at time management, so when it was over it was like waking up from a really long dream. But hey, there’s this new sweet game out? Well, I can try it for a little while. Just a little while. Once I’ve had a good taste, I’ll delete it.

And so, the next day, I downloaded the app and tried to sign up for an account. The Pokémon Trainer Club accounts looked like a better bet than just using a Google account, and with no apparent way to link the two, I figured I should do it right the first time.

But I got a 502 error. And a 503 error. And with attempts on my phone and on my desktop, in the app and out of it.

Apparently, the servers were having issues. It was a known issue, and there was nothing to do but wait. In that moment, when I saw I couldn’t just plow forward like I’d wanted to, I felt like a victim of a Dark Kingdom scheme who had just been saved by Sailor Moon. My eyes opened.

“I just spent all that time reading the comic books that inspired a show I liked when I was ten, and I’m about to spend a lot of time chasing cartoon characters from a show I liked when I was ten. What am I doing with my life?”

I’ve been working on my discipline already, lately, but this was an important moment. I deleted the app and decided that no matter how fun it looks, I will not play Pokémon GO. Besides, Ed and I have already been exploring the Indianapolis area—for its own sake. It’s pretty cool.

If that’s not enough, the half of Facebook not discussing the game is posting about the horrific things that have happened in our country recently, and all of this on the heels of Brexit, which, whether a good change or a bad one, is still absolutely chaos-inducing. Escapism often is easiest when it’s most important to stay present, and the world needs intelligent, focused, moral, loving people who are present right now.

Today, while half the world was running all over creation capturing cartoon creatures with cartoon pokéballs, I practiced my watercolor painting and then designed a cover for my soon-to-be-self-published short story. I didn’t wake up early, and I didn’t leave the house, but it’s something. I want to learn new things and create beautiful things and, yes, leave the house and go see the city, the state, the country, the world. And I want to benefit the wider world rather than just having fun for my own sake. I want to live in reality and impact reality. I want to live.

There’s actually a lot going on in the real world, good and bad, and it’s way more exciting than I used to believe.

[EDIT: To be fair, I know there’s value in the potential to make friends with strangers over a mutual love of something frivolous like video games or sports. I just don’t get enough mileage out of that to justify this myself.]