“Qualifications, policies, intelligence, and pant suits”: Buddhist Political Preferences (Reader poll, October reporting)

“Qualifications, policies, intelligence, and pant suits”: Buddhist Political Preferences (Reader poll, October reporting) October 12, 2016

Another month, another survey of readers on political preferences in the 2017 US Presidential race. This month the poll of 91 (self-selected, online, non-randomized) respondents swung strongly toward Clinton, the vast majority of those giving their preference even before the Oct. 7 tape of Donald Trump discussing sexual assault was released.

Buddhist political preferences - october

Last month, in contrast, Clinton was supported by only 49.4% of respondents and Stein drew 23.6% with Johnson also getting 12.9% (Trump was under 7% then). This month, along with Clinton’s and Stein’s numbers above, Trump got 7.7%, Johnson 6.6%, and 6.6% went to Other.

Starting with the lowest numbers first, one write-in went to Mimi Soltysik, the candidate from the Socialist Party.  Three write-ins were for Bernie Sanders.

For Johnson, several of the supporters wrote that their reason is simply that they are libertarians. One noted that, “He’s not a Republican or Democrat. Both parties are morally and ethically corrupt.”

Donald Trump supporters gave varied reasons for their support, one writing, “Realistically, Clinton or Trump is going to win. While I dislike both candidates, I believe that Trump would cause less damage and suffering than Clinton.” Another wrote, “Hard to explain. Tough, aggressive. Solid results require aggressive measures. While it may be hard now, it will make future generations stronger and they will appreciate the root. Society sees Trump as an outcast or crazy because society has become soft. The constant “pussification” of America and a drastic change is needed for a strong future.”

Stein, who saw a large “post-Bernie-bump” in July and August, saw a dramatic fall this month. In July (when Sanders was technically still in the race), her support was under 10%, then in  August it jumped to 19.4% and rose yet further in September to the 23.6% mentioned above. Stein’s supporters, as in September, focused on topics including the environment and peace:

  • Jill Stein puts people, peace, and planet over profit.
  • Single payer healthcare, end to wars for oil, tuition free college, clean energy, green jobs
  • Voting for.  Platform of peace and compassion.  Few minor points of disagreement.
  • least corrupt

Another, interestingly foreshadowing a possible move to none, stated, “I mostly agree with Stein’s ideas. However I might not end up voting because I’m starting to think it won’t do any good.”

Lastly, Clinton’s supporters, for only the second time a plurality in surveys here, had the following to say about their reasons for supporting her:

  • temperament and experience
  • Compassion for others
  • Her compassion and responsibility with country
  • Most likely to help others
  • Most qualified, best prepared, good person
  • She has 30 years experience, plus she is the only candidate with international experience.
  • Two reasons: it’s past time America had a female president and Donald Trump is not fit for service; it’s that simple. I did vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary though.
  • Her platform is fairly good; she’s competent; Trump represents a dangerous autocratic threat to what’s left of democracy in the US.
  • more equitable economy, better than Trump
  • She is the better choice based on the job description
  • Her opponent is a very unkind human being who is averse to truth-telling.
  • Clinton is the most progressive and least dangerous
  • Experienced, intelligent candidate who will be a continuation of Obama’s policies. Alternatives are lightweights or worse.
  • Clinton is a calm, rational thinker who is extremely well-respected in the international community and who has a proven record of being able to work toward consensus within Congress.

And, my favorite, as per the post title:

  • Qualifications, policies, intelligence, and pant suits

Others still see her as the “lesser of two evils,” noting:

  • Unfortunately, the lesser of two evils, but Trump is too evil.
  • As I stated before, she is the most profoundly qualified of the two, and Trump is an arrogant megalomaniac, who should return to his lost tribe.
  • Because Trump scares me
  • Donald Trump represents a lot of dark sentiments not seen by a political candidate in a long time. I do not feel he can represent lower classes of people when he continually demonizes the poor and others that are marginalized.

But, again looking back to September, it seems that the “lesser of two evils” reasoning is much rarer now than it was then. More people are inclined to see and report on Clinton’s positive attributes.

This month I will send out invitations/prompts to those who gave me email addresses in the polls over the last few months. I hope to generate some thoughtful dialogues for those who are interested. In the next survey I’ll also add some “what if” questions to broaden the possibilities. What if it were Jeb Bush against Hillary Clinton as front runners now? What if it were Bernie Sanders against Donald Trump? And so on.

I hope the results, as un-scientific as they are, have given some moments of pause and reflection to readers. I, for one, was introduced to several 3rd party candidates through this poll. It is good to see democracy alive and well on that level. It has also been interesting to see how readers, who supported Sanders in the primaries, moved once he was not nominated as the democratic candidate. And I have met many people, staunch lefists all, who begrudgingly ask, “how could a Buddhist support Donald Trump?” While it is easy to fall into strong left/right dichotomies, it’s also important to listen to those on the other side.

I think of John Green’s video on everyone comparing their opponent’s candidate to Hitler…  We don’t need to do that. We can come together, listen, discuss, debate, disagree, and come away more informed and thoughtful individuals citizens. So, for all of the difficulties of giving a “what Buddhists really think” impression, there is value in seeing that different Buddhists think different things and for different reasons that can be discussed. And on that note, please: discuss.

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