When I Voted for Donald Duck

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I once voted for Donald for President. Donald Duck was his full name and I remember how virtuous I felt writing in the uncle of Huey, Dewey and Louie as my choice to lead the country. I was very young and like many of my generation, I believed the refusal to vote for an establishment candidate was a statement of great significance. If he and his cronies wouldn't include on the ballot the poet and freethinker who was my favored candidate, then I would show them!

Well, Donald Duck didn't win, nor did the establishment candidate I had so righteously stood up to. What I got instead were six years of a President who continued an unwinnable war and sanctioned a criminal break-in to his opposition party's headquarters. The latter eventually forced his resignation, bringing humiliation not only to him, but to the entire country. In my small way, I had contributed to this shared disgrace. By refusing to vote for my party's candidate, an experienced man with good credentials who I viewed at the time as a hack, I helped bring America to its knees.

Needless to say, I learned a good lesson from this. An election, and particularly a presidential election, is an emotional process, a time when many of us take huge gulps from deep wells of hope. We want change to come quickly, and believe everything will be so much better when it does. But looking across the decades, I see that good change sometimes comes even when it doesn't happen exactly the way I want. Two terms of the first African American presidency, and the possible beginning of the first woman's, show me this. This didn't come quickly, but it came.

I understand the struggle some voters face having to choose between two major candidates. No one wants to vote for someone who doesn't touch their deepest hopes. There is a great temptation to write someone in, vote for a candidate who can't win, or not vote at all. Having done this once, I would not do it again without being fully willing to accept the consequences.

With a Perspective, I'm Carol Arnold.


Carol Arnold is an environmental planner. She lives in San Francisco.