I've never liked the lesser-of-two-evils type of election. It's bad politics and the voters deserve better.
But after Tuesday night, the near end of the primary season, the cold math becomes a race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the White House.
Trump has secured an overwhelming number of delegates to win the Republican nomination; Clinton will have enough delegates (after all the votes are counted) that she only needs the support of about 150 superdelegates to clinch the nomination at the convention.
It doesn't look like either side has a viable option for stopping the nomination of these two candidates, other than some pre-convention rules switch-a-roo.
Today is the day we face the harsh realities of the 2016 -- ones that many are not going to be happy with.
1. 'I'm voting against ____'
This is going to dominate political discussions and decisions until the November election.
The reality is, there will be millions of voters who will go to the polls and vote for a candidate they don't like, because they like the other one even less.
This isn't the first time that America has been saddled with poor candidates (consider the election of 1912, with Teddy Roosevelt as a sore-loser candidate), and the voters usually make the parties suffer for it.
2. Expect your party nomination practices to change in the next 4 years
Both parties are likely to create rules that fundamentally change how candidates are picked in the next 4 years. Some of these rules may be good, some bad.
The Republicans will probably focus on something that doesn't reward a 'less-than-majority' winner enough to capture the White House, or even put into place party 'safety-valves' to give the party at least some control of a 'runaway' process.
The Democrats will almost certainly amend the superdelegate structure. They have prided themselves in that no race has ever been decided with superdelegates -- until this one.
Both parties will probably continue their war on independents and try to close off more and more avenues for independents to vote in the primaries, limiting the influence of 'outsiders' on 'their' political process.
3. Don't expect an independent 'Savior' candidate
People need to fully grasp the mechanics of living in a federal republic.
A candidate doesn't just sign up at the FEC in Washington, D.C. and get put on the ballot in all 50 states for the general election.
The party nominees automatically get that gift (on the ballot in all 50 states), while any independent running has to petition in each state (each state has their own rules, so this isn't a universal formula), get the petitions certified, and then get on the ballots -- all by a deadline that has long past in almost every state.
Some of the confusion on this is probably the 1992 Ross Perot run for the White House. He had an early ground-pounding campaign in the states to get on the ballot, but then he dropped out of the race for a while, only to return in October of the election year.
Swooping back in at the end has probably left the impression with too many that a candidate can launch a 50-state challenge whenever they choose, but that is far from reality.
Had he not done the significant legwork in the 50 states prior to dropping out, he would never have been able to swoop back in at the last minute.
Likewise, there will be no last minute independent political 'savior' candidate; we're stuck with what we have.
4. Before voting for a minor party candidate....
Some have openly stated they have no intention of supporting one of the major party candidates.
The old adage is that voting for a minor party candidate is throwing your vote away.
That might be debatable, but voting for a minor party candidate that isn't on the ballot in even half of the states is definitely a wasted vote.
Before choosing to vote for a minor party candidate, make sure they are on the ballot in enough states to matter, preferably all of them.
While there is no date on this webpage, Jill Stein (Green Party Candidate) can highlight this problem: at the time this page was last updated, she was not on the ballot in 29 states (considering this is her official campaign site, you'd hope the information would be current).
While she can campaign, make a lot of speeches, get some support, and financial backing, the simple reality is that she could never attain the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
This is the coldest math of all when considering a minor party candidate -- that being whether or not they will even be on the ballot in enough states to matter.
In the end... VOTE!
Regardless, the worst kind of voter is the one who stays home and chooses to not vote.
Cast your ballot for where it will do the most good (or the least damage), but don't throw it away or just not use it.
Don't try to use your vote as a 'message' to the parties -- they are already receiving the message loud and clear. Vote for whomever you think can both win and govern in your best interest.
2016 is a referendum to the parties on the 2020 election; a big reset button is about to be pushed in the parties -- from rule changes to party platforms.
The political parties can wait 4 more years for their next chance -- the American voter cannot. We need to cast our votes where we believe they will do the most good.
Photo Source: Ohio Reuters