In a different era of American politics, Missouri was a swing state. Missouri was one of those constituencies, much beloved by pundits, which could be counted upon to predict the general trend of the nation. We were once a state of averages, middle-of-the-ground all the way back to the Civil War.
That’s not the state that Missouri is today. It’s become consistently Republican on the presidential level, although Democrats persist at the lower levels. We’ve grown accustomed to our electoral votes being reliably red, but this year we might become a toss-up once more.
Multiple polls have shown that the state could be competitive; while a Real Clear Politics average has Trump at 5.3 points ahead, the gap has narrowed over time. In a Remington Research poll, Trump is winning by only 2 points, while the St. Louis Post-Dispatch even found Clinton one point ahead.
Clearly, Trump is doing no favors to his own cause.
While the idea of third party voting is seen by both parties as a “spoiler” that could potentially lead to defeat at the hands of ideological purists, it seems that empirically, the introduction of third parties into Missouri polling favors Clinton. In polls that include Green Party candidate Jill Stein and libertarian Gary Johnson, Trump has a narrower lead than in polls that propose a head-to-head race with Clinton.
Like many Americans, I have more antipathy than affection for both political parties. I don’t like the idea of voting for Democrats; I chose Jill Stein over Barack Obama in 2012, as my first vote for president. There’s a lot of emotional appeal in voting for someone whose principles you really believe in, but I knew that I only had the luxury of doing that because I lived in Missouri, a state where my one blue vote wouldn’t make any difference.
In the age of Trump vs. Clinton, many fewer states will be the sure things they once were for Republican presidential candidates. That means many more citizens will have a meaningful choice to make in this election–a real chance to contribute to America’s choice.
That should seem like an appealing prospect, but many of us have probably gotten used to the idea that our vote doesn’t count. While it might not be in principle what we’d prefer, it can be comfortable. We know the decisions are being made by the mass of voters in our state whose opinions are fixed and immovable.
Well, this is the 2016 election, and all of us have a choice, and all of us have to know that our choice matters. Each of us should recognize that this election isn’t business as usual. In light of the absurd level of hatred and bile generated by the Donald Trump campaign, many Republican voters have already reached their breaking point and found that this is somewhere they can’t follow.
An election like this one poses a stark choice between politics as usual and the deranged, power-mad fantasy presidency of Donald Trump. While there is little–if any–chance that Trump will walk the halls of power, it is still a critical moral responsibility to take a stance against him.
Missouri has a chance to do that as a state. Regardless of who you are – a disillusioned Republican eyeing Gary Johnson, a leftist considering Jill Stein, or a firm conservative who knows in your heart that Trump is a dangerous candidate – vote for Hillary Clinton this fall. Don’t let Missouri be counted as a vote for tyranny.