Kaepernick’s lack of electoral participation may appear out of sync with his activism on the field, but the veteran quarterback’s decision may be a product of his dislike for both presidential candidates, whom he has spoken out against.
“It was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates [Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton],” Kaepernick said following the first presidential debate in September (via the Mercury News). “Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist.
“At this point, in talking to one of my friends, you have to pick the lesser of two evils, but the end is still evil.”
Kaepernick began his protest during the preseason when he refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He later said that he would not “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” His protest has continued for all eight regular season games the 49ers have played, and other NFL players around the league have joined him in speaking up about police brutality and racial inequality in America.
Trump was critical of Kaepernick in August, saying, “Maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen.”
Clinton hasn’t directly addressed the NFL protests, or Kaepernick, but her vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine did when asked in September.
“I’d do it differently,” Kaine said. “I think if you really thought about issues and about this country, you’d do it differently, and when I heard him explain his rationale, it didn’t really make that much sense to me. But you’ve got to respect people’s ability to act according to their conscience, so I wouldn’t presume to tell him what to do.”
Still, even if Kaepernick, who resides in San Jose, was displeased with his options at the top of the ballot — or for any elected position, for that matter — California citizens are also voting on 17 propositions, on everything from education funding to the death penalty, gun control to the legalization of marijuana, all issues that affect minority communities. And voting is among the few ways a citizen can try to enact change in the way their state and country is run. So, perhaps, a missed opportunity, Mr. Kaepernick.