Cop-Out 2020: Why I’m Voting Third Party—and Why You Should Consider it Too

Cop-Out 2020: Why I’m Voting Third Party—and Why You Should Consider it Too

Dash Rierson, Guest Writer

The first vote that I will cast in a general election in my life will be for the Green Party and its likely nominee Howie Hawkins. He has a near non-existent chance of winning a single state, much less the election as a whole. He will be a loser, like every independent candidate for president since Millard Filmore in 1850. I don’t care. 

I do not like Joe Biden, his policies, or the decisions that he has made during his lengthy career. I do not like Donald Trump, his policies, or the decisions that he has made during his presidency. 

If you disagree with either of those sentiments, and you are excited to vote for either of the major candidates for President this year, more power to you. Seriously, I envy you. But if you are a young person, a left-leaning person, an independent person, or some combination of all three, chances are you are not ecstatic about your options.

For the second election cycle in a row, American voters have been given two choices that a near majority have an unfavorable opinion of. Despite leading Trump in most polls, less than a quarter of Biden’s supporters are “very excited” to vote for him, a historically low number. “The lesser of two evils” argument is a tantalizing one, but isn’t something wrong when it is employed every four years? And isn’t it suspicious that the argument is always used to convince leftists to vote for centrist Democrats and never the other way around? In February, when it seemed as though Bernie Sanders, certainly a lesser evil to most Democrats, would be the nominee, where were the incessant calls for moderates to hold their noses and support the leading option against Trump? 

This pattern is an unmistakable sign of a dying democracy, where less and less is accomplished in Washington and more and more Americans hate each other. It is one of the reasons Americans are massively apathetic about politics and why half of them choose to abstain from voting at all. It is why most Americans feel that their representatives do not represent them, and why Congress’s approval ratings haven’t hit 30% in a decade. Does voting for a third-party unilaterally fix all these problems? No. But it pushes us closer towards healthier democracies who universally have robust third parties or parliamentary systems. 

It is crucial to understand that voting for a third party is not purely a protest vote. If a third-party reaches just 5% nationally, they are eligible for federal funding, granted ballot access immediately in many states, and are recognized as an official national party for the next election cycle. If the Green Party becomes viable nationally, it will force Democrats to the left in order to not cede significant chunks of votes. That reality feels a lot more likely than Joe Biden, a man who has obstructed or opposed left-wing policies for his entire career, suddenly doing a 180 and becoming FDR. 

Perhaps I would feel differently if I lived somewhere more electorally competitive. But if Joe Biden loses Illinois in the general election, he will almost certainly have lost Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania and every other swing state or semi-swing state. Hillary Clinton,  who lost all of those states, carried Illinois by 17%, the 7th highest Democratic margin. Simply put, if Joe Biden loses Illinois, he will have already suffered one of the most catastrophic blowouts in American history. It is easy to feel powerless in a solidly blue state, but because our votes do not change the outcome, we have a freedom not afforded to voters in swing states. We are not bound to the deceptive “lesser of two evils” philosophy. 

I recognize that as an upper-class, straight, white man, my life under a Trump presidency or a Biden presidency will have minimal differences. If you want to vote for Joe Biden as a rejection of Trump’s bigotry in solidarity with the marginalized communities he has targeted, I respect that. 

But I would remind you that Joe Biden’s history on many social issues is far from pristine. Joe Biden wrote the 1994 Crime Bill, self-nicknamed the Biden Crime Bill, which exploded the mass incarceration of African-Americans.  Joe Biden entered this election supporting the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions, before changing that view when it came under fire. Joe Biden eulogized one of America’s most prominent segregationists and racists, Strom Thurmond, praising him as “one of [his] closest friends.” Joe Biden led the charge into the Iraq War. Joe Biden has been credibly accused of sexual assault by at least one former employee, and of sexual harassment by dozens of other women. Joe Biden has lied about being arrested in apartheid South Africa when trying to visit Nelson Mandela and he has lied about marching in the Civil Rights movement. We know who Joe Biden is and he is not a man that I want to be president.

If you can stomach all of that because Trump is demonstrably worse on almost everything and has proven again and again how unqualified he is to be President, vote for Joe Biden. I hope he beats Trump and proves me wrong about all of his shortcomings. 

But as someone who finds both men repulsive, who lives in a non-competitive state, who wants to live in a healthier democracy, I will be voting third-party. Whoever you support, make sure you do not limit your options to two undesirable choices.  

To quote author Andrzej Sapkowski: “Evil is Evil. Lesser, greater, middling… Makes no difference. The degree is arbitrary. The definition’s blurred. If I’m to choose between one evil and another… I’d rather not choose at all.”