How Much Longer Will We Be Forced to Choose the Lesser of Two Evils?
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my dad about the upcoming election in November. He told me that as an Indian-American living in this country, you are either part of President Trump’s fiercest group of minority supporters, or you harbor a burning hatred for him. My father belongs to the latter group.
He hates the President passionately, both because of his policy and personality and firmly believes that everyone should vote for Biden. He actually supported Senator Bernie Sanders in the primary, as I did. While the Sanders loss was disappointing, we were quickly told the same thing we as progressives have been hearing for years now. Vote for X because Y is our worst nightmare.
I’m honestly so tired of listening to this mantra repeated over and over and I know many others are too. So the question begs to be asked, how long can this really go on for? Some people take their own voices out of the equation entirely and either refuse to vote, or vote third party.
The argument against that line of thinking goes something like this: “staying at home is helping the other side”, or “voting third party is stupid because they will never win”.
As I’ve gotten older I realized that over 5,000,000 Americans who voted third party in 2016 could not have all been stupid. The vast majority of them definitely knew what they were doing: engaging in a protest vote aimed at the accursed two party system. They heard what Hillary Clinton believed in and simply did not see her as a decent alternative to Trump.
The 2016 election was honestly a wild one to be voting in for the first time. Even as a new voter, I understood that things were not simple at all and I did not blame the Green and Socialist Parties for their part in handing the election to Trump. I even voted for local Green Party candidates in my home state.
No, I refused to pay the blame game because I knew that those people had a reason behind their vote. It probably took them a lot of courage to do it because once you’re in that voting booth, it becomes harder to make actually make that protest vote. Third party voters are constantly made to feel guilty for their actions.
The 2000 and 2016 elections had a lot in common with each other, but one outstanding factor is that the Green Party was blamed and ostracized for their role in both. They were able to syphon off millions of votes from the Democrats even without ballot access in six states. This was a testament to just how many people were dissatisfied with the Democratic platform and candidate. The majority of support for Jill Stein came from young people and the support from this voting bloc tends to constantly be a theme each election. Young people are fed up with the two-party system.
After four long years, people are once again being forced into a familiar dilemma. We’re still seeing the same issues. Joe Biden’s biggest deficit of support is from young people aged 18–31 and there’s not much being done to court these voters.
I strongly urge everyone not to judge third party voters for how they decide to vote. The “establishment” has made it clear that they are here to stay and do whatever it takes to retain power.
The power that WE as normal citizens have is severely underrated. Our collective vote means more than we know each election. The way we vote is studied, analyzed and meticulously picked apart by data scientists. The two main parties pay BILLIONS of dollars every single election cycle to commission internal pollsters and teams to find out how people are feeling about their candidates.
Trust me when I say that your vote absolutely does matter. It shouldn’t be made without care or forethought. Let’s not forget that Bernie Sanders won his Burlington mayoral race all the way back in 1981 by just 10 votes.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried to convince my father that voting third party is an understandable choice, but he has a little troubling accepting it through no fault of his own. The President’s no-tolerance immigration policy has put our extended family back in India in some tough situations. I know other people who have had it a lot worse than us though, so I consider my family to be very lucky.
Despite all this, I still stand firm in my belief that my vote should not go to a candidate who I believe will provide no fundamental change despite such a desperate need for it. Everyone should realize the worth that a common citizen has. Voting should be the solution to all the anger, outrage and bitterness that people feel when they see the blatant injustice that surrounds our institutions. In 2020, our voices demand to be heard and more people are finally realizing the power that the individual has.