A Binary Choice on Election Day

November 8, 2016

by Nick Novak

[Madison, Wis…] Election Day brings on quite a few memories for me. I have felt the joy and sense of accomplishment when I – along with many colleagues – learned in the kitchen next to a hotel ballroom that our boss Scott was now Governor-Elect. I’ve been in a holding room with a political novice as staff and consultants vigorously tried to find a way for the final vote to add up to a win that ultimately never came. And I walked down State Street late on a chilly November night eight years ago feeling distraught with our country’s choice for President, but overcome with relief that my boss, a state Senator, was reelected by the narrowest of margins.

When it comes to Election Day, I have felt pretty much every feeling you can think of. No matter what the outcome was, however, I was always proud to work for the men and women that put their trust in me. I believed in the policies they spoke about in stump speeches. I believed that in their heart, they truly were in this for something bigger than themselves. Simply put, I believed in them.

When the 2016 cycle started, I had such high hopes. Not only was one of the candidates for President my former boss, there were multiple other people on the first debate stage that I knew I could support: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and others.

Flash forward to today. I walked into the voting booth and was faced with a choice. So many people in my life have told me that I faced a binary choice. I had to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. For those of you that know me, you know it was anything but a binary choice. I was never going to vote for Clinton. Not just because I do not trust her to run our country, but because I fundamentally disagree with her vision for America.

So, as a Republican, that left me one choice. I was required to vote for the candidate with the (R) next to his name.

I have been a Republican as long as I can remember. I cast my first ballot for John McCain in 2008, and I have been voting for Republicans at every level since then.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I did face a binary choice. Only it was not between the two major party candidates for President. The binary choice I faced was: After I vote, will I feel all the things I have felt in previous elections, or will I feel like I simply voted for a certain candidate because I was picking the lesser of two evils?

In my opinion, I have never voted for the lesser of two evils. As I stated above, I felt in my heart-of-hearts that I was supporting a person on Election Day who stood up for what I believed in.

If I wanted to be proud of my vote and hold it in the same regard I have in past elections. I could not vote for Hillary Clinton. And I could not vote for Donald Trump. Both candidates represent the worst of our society, and it shows in their disapproval ratings.

Yes, I am a Republican, but I did not support my party’s nominee this year. He does not represent the type of Republican Party I want to see moving forward. I want to see a party that is aspirational, not apathetic. I want to see a party that is optimistic, not pessimistic. I want to see a party that is welcoming, not hateful.

That is why I voted for Evan McMullin. I know his chances of winning the presidency are about as good as me winning the presidency, but I am with him on the issues. And he offers a vision of a new and refreshed party. Will McMullin suddenly be a beacon of light that can lead us forward? Who knows. I just know Donald Trump is not that person.

While I may not have voted for our party’s nominee, you can be sure that I have been extremely supportive of Sen. Ron Johnson and other Republicans. No matter who wins the Presidential election tonight, we need to ensure that Paul Ryan continues to be Speaker of the House and the U.S. Senate must stay red. Congress should serve as a check on the executive branch, no matter which party is in power. Ryan, Johnson and others will do just that.

If you’ve made it to this point in my ramblings, you have likely formed your own opinions about how I voted. If it has an impact on you, great. If it didn’t, that is fine, too.

The most important thing is that you make an educated decision on who to vote for. Polls in Wisconsin are open until 8:00 p.m. tonight. Make sure your voice is heard. And make sure you are proud of your vote.