Can an App Make a #NeverTrump Impact on November 8?

With just a couple days left before polls open, appealing to a third-party voter’s greater sensibility is a practical counteroffensive.

With the topic of Tuesday’s coming election never far from mind, I took a cleansing break this week to fully immerse in all things related to the Chicago Cubs and their historic World Series win. For Windy City residents and die-hard fans begotten from generations of Cubby devotees, the experience was a beautiful moment of cultural zeitgeist and personal release.  It brought five million pilgrims to the city on Friday morning to celebrate. And celebrate we did – the end of 108 years of superstition, heartbreak and suspense. The Chicago Cubs are world champions at long last.

With the beer cans, bottles and ticker tape cleared from the streets, Cubs fans from all corners of America are struggling to re-engage normal life. In many cases, the energy expended during an extreme World Series Game 7 is now transferring back to the electoral contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton (who, it must be noted was raised a Cubs fan as a suburban Chicago girl) and Republican (or whatever) Donald J. Trump. It seems that every recent election cycle (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) has somehow felt like a struggle for the American soul. But this one? No hyperbole needed. On Wednesday morning, we wake up as citizens of a democracy hijacked by a totalitarian racist and misogynist, or as inhabitants of a country that just elected its first female POTUS. I’ve been pretty clear to this point about which new reality I prefer.

Of all the compelling storylines involved in the buildup to November 8, one of them is the potential effect third-party candidates will have on final vote tallies in various states. The #ImWithHer crowd in say, California, which is trending solidly blue, probably isn’t sweating much. However liberals in Utah might be concerned about Evan McMullin, an independent conservative. The candidate is currently polling at 28 percent in the Beehive State, a definite threat to both Trump and Clinton.

I’d heard rumors of such systems in existence during previous national elections, but a tip from a friend and an article in Vox earlier this week made me aware of an app whereby Third-party Voters are “Trading Votes” with Clinton Voters to Defeat Trump. According to writer Zachary Crockett:

“[Developer] Kumar launched #NeverTrump — a ‘marketplace’ app where third-partiers in swing states can swap candidates with Clinton supporters in safe states.

This agreement, called vote trading or pairing, is a small but swiftly growing movement playing out across the United States. And at the last minute, it’s shifting hundreds — if not thousands — of third-party votes to Clinton.”

Let’s ignore for a moment the innate disgust some of us experience hearing app users discuss trading as an opportunity to “feel better about voting for the master of corruption.” I’m sorry to report that these Breitbart talking point espousers aren’t referring to Donald Trump. Gag. But call me a fresh off a Cubs World Series optimist. Doesn’t this kind of system mitigate the potential of a Nader-like spoil handing the presidency to a vulgar talking yam? And isn’t that a good thing?

I’m skeptically hobbled by two concerns. The first is that the very existence of a #NeverTrump app suggests at least part of the Johnson and Stein crowd is aware that their votes pose a risk – the ascension of America’s worst nightmare to the Oval Office. That’s frustrating but nothing to be done about it. The second worry is perhaps more actionable: the country’s dubious relationship with the honor system. Admit it. As a child, you trick or treated past that house where some well-meaning family left out a candy bowl because they weren’t home. Did you discipline yourself to take just one piece as the accompanying sign requested? Didn’t think so.

Crockett writes, “On Election Day, it is understood that Nicholas will vote for Clinton and Alex will vote for Stein. (In some states, a ballot selfie can serve as proof.).” Hmmmm….

I asked the friend who first made me aware of #NeverTrump for her perspective. She admitted, “That app makes me nervous. You can’t see the person and I picture some Trump deplorable in Anytown, USA trolling people and lying.” But in the social media era, she believes we don’t have to depend upon technology beyond the Facebook community to secure third-party trades. “I found someone through my friend’s post. It’s still uncertain and dependent upon the honor system, but the fact that I can see her profile and a mutual friend vouches for her character offers comfort.”

The filthy and degrading campaign run by Team Trump makes it clear that the candidate and the Republican establishment he’s dragged down with him are prepared to win, or scorch the Earth, by any means necessary. Perhaps, with just a couple days left before polls officially open, appealing to a third-party voter’s greater sensibility is a practical and less morally corrupt counteroffensive.

#NeverTrump. Whatever it takes.

Becky Sarwate is the current President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, founded in 1885, as well as Recording Secretary for the National Federation of Press Women. She is a national award-winning journalist, blogger, newsletter editor and theater critic. Becky lives in Chicago with her partner Bob and their menagerie of pets. Keep up with her at beckysarwate.com.
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