Vote Your Conscience and Get Off My Lawn

by Bill Brenner on June 23, 2016

I’ve been mostly silent about this year’s presidential contest. Since I’ve been pretty opinionated about such things in the past, this has worried some of my loved ones. And so, for this one post, I will tell you what I think.

Mood music:

My worldview is much different than it was in my younger years. I used to think the fate of humanity hinged on each election. If the candidate I supported was in a tight race or losing, it would make me sick.

As I’ve gone through my personal growth journey, I’ve found that national and global politics are less important to me than the local politics. Tip O’Neill once said that all politics are local, but he was from a time when politicians knew how to compromise at the national level. Things are so polarized now that nothing of consequence can get done.

Still, I care about who my president is, because they are our representative to the world. I like my presidents to be moderate, middle-of-the-road pragmatists who don’t let ideology blind them to situations that demand flexible thinking.

In a lot of ways, Hillary Clinton would be my ideal candidate. She’s not as moderate as her husband was, but I think her experience as a senator and secretary of state would serve the country well on the global stage. I also think it’s past time we had a woman as president.

But as an internet security guy, I can’t get past the recklessness of how she managed her email during her State Department years. She had access to extremely sensitive information on the country’s diplomatic and military dealings, and to run that data through an unprotected server in her house may well have endangered the lives of agents in the field.

We in the security profession have been telling businesses for years that conducting business via personal email is a bad idea; that company email systems with extra security protections are a must. Since I’ve written a lot about that, it would be hypocritical of me to vote for someone who can’t abide by the same rules.

Donald Trump is an entertainer, a mogul with a mixed business record and a flamethrower. His campaign speeches have been blatantly racist and sexist. His big boast is that he’ll build a wall all along the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it. If elected, he won’t accomplish any of the things he says he’ll get done (not that I think that’s a bad thing). He’ll just keep making dumb statements that will make us look bad to the rest of the world. So, no, I won’t be voting for him.

The Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, is more my speed: socially liberal and fiscally conservative. He’s been a governor, so he has executive experience the others don’t have. His running mate, Bill Weld, was my governor back in the ’90s, and I thought he did a good job cutting government waste and holding the line on taxes. I see Johnson-Weld as the most harmless choice, so that’s where my vote is going.

More than one person has said I’m foolish for voting for someone who “can’t possibly” win. That’s a foolish line of thinking in any election cycle. The most important thing a voter can do is obey their conscience. It’s one thing if you have two choices where one is close enough to your convictions and most likely to win to make sense. This year, in my opinion, both major-party candidates are too far off the reservation for me to support.

Feel free to try and change my mind. I doubt you will.

Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, and Donald Trump

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Will June 26, 2016 at 1:44 pm

At least you have found someone to vote FOR. Can’t grudge you that. I will vote for Clinton mostly because Trump appears to be a political trainwreck waiting to happen…. Yes, politics has also made me sick in the past, both as spectator and participant, and with this campaign it’s daily work to keep from slipping down that chute again.

jonee July 4, 2016 at 11:14 am

Racist? Sexist?…..really?…..and how do you think we look now to the rest of the world?

jonee July 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm

I think I’ll go for the “flame thrower” – who recognizes the threats to our nation and the crumbling of our infrastructure and our giving away of money to people who hate us (money which we don’t have) and to our ridiculous trade deals, etc. and has the knowledge and expertise to do something good for this country…and if he doesn’t have that knowledge and expertise in certain areas he has shown he is not above seeking the best advice to …”make America great again”. I really can’t understand how anyone could even think of voting for Clinton.

jonee July 5, 2016 at 8:10 am

Clinton has no record of success.
I’m really trying here, Bill (lol)
But, you’re right, vote your own conscience and
I’ll get off your lawn…now! lol

Patrick July 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Let’s look at the logic that it’s dumb to vote for someone who can’t win. Only one person will win, so only one person can win. Two people can’t both win. So using the logic that you should only vote for someone who can win means that you should only vote for the person who will win. And because it’s “a waste” to vote for anyone who can’t win, then by following that logic, the winner should get 100% of the vote. Anything less than that and everyone else “wasted” their vote.

Yes, it’s ridiculous. Especially with the fact that for someone to be considered a viable candidate and be allowed into the debates, that party’s candidate must get at least 15% of the vote. So anyone who wants a third party candidate to be seen as “viable” for the future, should certainly vote for Gary Johnson.

Myrcurial July 6, 2016 at 9:24 pm


Best thing you could do for yourself would be to go out and get an education. If you believe any of your screed to be true, you must be attempting to win some sort of prize for ignorance. Please stop listening to the bad toupee riding on the orange homunculus and do some research on who is responsible for the state of infrastructure, geopolitics, and trade in the USA.


Good rational discussion. Watching the country fiddle while the titanic sinks from the outside is terrifying. Thanks for being sane.

Maurice July 19, 2016 at 9:20 pm

You know, I was looking around trying to find some experts in the field of tech and security, your company and you were one of the first names that showed up. For me, I don’t see how Hillary is responsible for computer security as the secretary of state. I read she asked for a secure blackberry, she didn’t get it. I heard there was rumblings about switching her over to a more secure system and no one ever implemented. If it was so troubling and such an issue, why would they not force her to switch over? To me it seemed like a deeper problem that is ongoing as many in the congress and senate, as many have private emails like gmail and aol if you can believe it. I have no doubt others had their own servers as well.

So like the Benghazi thing, which was a witch hunt and many don’t know it was during the Benghazi hearings that her emails and server first showed up. I know, I watched all the hearings and read about them in depth. Anyway, it seems they needed to pivot because the Benghazi thing wasn’t working and since things were in flux as far as what was allowed and what was not, they took their opportunity. At least that’s how it seems it played out as far as I can see.

I know you can’t possibly know who’s actually in charge of security in the halls of government and power but do you really believe this responsibility falls on a women in her 60’s who was never really tech savvy in the first place? Does this make any sense? If experts were telling her to change it over and over and she say said, no over and over I might agree but I don’t see any of that.

I don’t know how secure my computer is, so few do or what a server is and what they do and how they are made safe and how they are vulnerable, etc. I would really love to hear what you think in a bit more depth on this cause I don’t see what all the fuss is for Hillary, for overall security, sure but her? I don’t see it. Thanks.

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