Last night, Doug Jones won the Alabama senate seat, in a special election, against Roy Moore. The carnival surrounding this election was, as an outsider, enthralling to watch. Roy Moore has had many allegations of hebephilia lodged against him over the past month(s), yet didn't take massive declines in the polls leading up to the election. Some voters clearly didn't care about Moore being accused of having sex with minors, while other voters were in a "moral dilemma".
The moral dilemma concerning the Alabama election was one that many of us have faced before (and it comes with 3 decisions):
Decision 1: Should I vote for someone who I agree with politically, but is reprehensible in their personal life?
Decision 2: Should I vote for someone who I disagree with politically if the opposing candidate I would typically choose is reprehensible in their personal life?
Decision 3: Should I abstain from voting completely in this case?
This is as good a time as any to throw myself under the bus; I didn't vote in 2016. I realize this ostracizes me to a significant amount of people, but I don't care. I understand that it is your American duty to vote, but it is also my American freedom that allowed me to decide not to vote. I didn't think Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump brought anything to the table that I wanted, so I abstained.
I sympathize with the voters of Alabama who stayed home yesterday. I live right in the middle of the political spectrum (but tend to lean right). I wouldn't have voted for Roy Moore because he is a child molester and he thinks gay people shouldn't have rights. I wouldn't have voted for Doug Jones because of his views on taxes and abortion. Perhaps I would have gone the route of writing in a candidate I thought was better, but that would be unlikely.
I also sympathize with the people who voted for Roy Moore while hating his personal actions, and the Republicans that switched their vote to Doug Jones. This is a point I brought up in my article on separating the art from the artist. I sympathize with them because the decision to vote on policy over personal conviction, and vice-versa, is just like supporting the art of someone who has done heinous things.
The decision to vote or not is a personal conviction, and as much as people will think you're an asshole from abstaining doesn't matter. Silence can say more than speaking sometimes, and the decision to stay silent during an election doesn't mean you're not saying anything. It's not right to force people to make a decision between 2 things that they hate equally.
Even more, it's not right to tell people that they can't have an opinion on policies after not voting. I understand it's frustrating to hear someone talk for/against a policy that you voted on and they didn't, but the fact that they didn't vote doesn't automatically remove their capacity for cogent thought. I think Donald Trump has implemented both good and bad legislature. No matter what I think of him, because I was silent on election night 2016 does that mean I have to be silent until the next election? The answer is a resounding "hell no". We, as Americans, need to stop demoralizing each other because we chose to abstain from voting between a crook and an orange idiot, or between a pedophile and someone who thinks the third trimester is acceptable to kill a baby.