With the 2020 election coming up, it is increasingly looking like a sequel to 2016 — voters who hate (or at least dislike) the two major party candidates, but are harassed and shamed into supporting and voting for one, all in the name of the electoral college. While harassing someone for validly criticizing your preferred candidate and voting for someone you consider unlikely to win is somewhat immoral in the first place (and a one-way ticket to find yourself generally disliked by the people around you), this argument doesn’t even make sense for the same reason it is advocated for: the electoral college.
Because this system of presidential voting inherently prevents the U.S. from being considered a democracy, putting all the campaigning and focus on voting on only a handful of some of the most moderate states in the union, this line of logic doesn’t make sense outside of any swing state — you know, where the least moderate voters reside, the most likely to criticize the mainstream two-party candidates and vote third party as a response. The majority of third party supporters and voters are undecided solely because they don’t support Democrats or Republicans. The vast majority of Americans in general don’t live in swing states — the only places where biting the bullet and voting for a mainstream candidate makes sense at all. Continuing to harass these non-swing state residents to not vote third party serves absolutely no purpose except to fuel the vicious electoral cycle keeping the U.S. undemocratic, and actively encourages citizens to throw away their vote and not use their voice.
That’s what this is about — to encourage safe state voters to block out the noise and cast a vote much more aligned with their conscience. In the end, the American voting system has already guaranteed their vote will not count in any purposeful way, and voting against the two-party duopoly is the most they can do to try to make a difference in this dystopian sham of a nation.
While this is obviously an extremely unpopular opinion, especially in the eyes of those who falsely view politics as a team sport and chant mantras like “vote Blue no matter who,” let’s break this down in a way that directly relates to our readers: the Whittier community, and the state of California. Our College and the vast majority of us as students are from California, arguably the most democratic state in the union, and one that was 100 percent predicted to vote for Biden since the Democratic National Convention.
Realistically speaking, there is no feasible way this state will not vote Democrat on Nov. 3, and you have to start by admitting that. Once you can swallow that pill, you can actually analyze the impact of what an additional vote for Biden will be here. It certainly won’t sway the electoral college whatsoever, and while it would increase his popular vote total, in America, the popular vote for president literally does not matter whatsoever, as demonstrated in 2016, 2000, and so on. In California, a vote for Biden, or Trump, for that matter, when you don’t actually support either, will not have a meaningful impact because the state’s winner is already decided. A vote for either candidate, if you don’t support them, is a much more direct and significant act of throwing your vote away than voting third party ever would be.
Every reasonable person understands that Biden will win California next week, and, ignoring faithless electors, get every single one of its 55 electoral votes. California is also arguably one of, if not the, most progressive states in the union, voting Sanders in the primary and being home to some of the biggest progressive voices as well as centrist and Republican critics. With that being said, even if the Whittier College community alone decided to vote with more enthusiasm for the Green Party and Howie Hawkins instead of Biden, or if our more conservative members frustrated with Trump decided to vote Libertarian with Jo Jorgensen instead, the gain of a few hundred supporters on their popular votes wouldn’t hurt Trump or Biden’s chances whatsoever. In fact, the additional third party support would act as a snowball effect, allowing voters to feel more comfortable voting that way. This is true, at least, in California and other safe states in future elections, and could actually help break the two-party duopoly and open up this country to a greater level of freedom and democracy with its voting choices.
Now, at least from my perspective, the only argument I could see being feasibly made against that at this point is that it could encourage faithless electors — that is, members of the electoral college that decide to ignore how their state voted and vote how they want. This is a practice that, in an election as close as this, could theoretically tip the table in a different direction, and could bring about fears of the political elite serving as electors using their right to become faithless to stage what could be considered a coup or authoritarian power grab in choosing the next president. However, it’s also unlikely this could occur because of third party voting and splitting the popular vote. Rather, this could happen because some political elites have already publicly floated around this idea.
As The Week reported last month, Trump’s campaign has already been in talks with Republican legislators in swing states to appoint electors loyal to him, who could change their vote if their state goes Democrat in order to sway the election. In addition, Lawrence Tabas, Chair of the Pennsylvania GOP, has publicly suggested this idea in the case of a Biden electoral win, and has stated that he hopes Trump looks into it. If electors decide to take this nuclear option and possibly start a coup, they are already willing to do it, and it certainly won’t depend on the outcome of third party candidates to make it happen. If this does come to pass, we’ll have much bigger things to worry about.
To the majority of Americans living on the sidelines of presidential elections by not living in swing states: hating both options absolutely does not mean you’re stuck voting for one. Voting third party can publicly encourage people to vote for candidates they actually prefer in future elections by seeing these candidates gain more support, even in smaller, local elections. In addition, increased support by voters in safe states could, over time, lead to the point where Greens and Libertarians poll at 15 percent nationally and force their way into national debates and accure more funding, finally demonstrating to voters that they are viable, and helping finally introduce true democracy to America. For those Biden-loving centrists and Trump-supporting proto-fascists that actually do wholeheartedly support their candidate, maybe you should pay more attention to undecided voters in swing states than harassing those that hate the candidate in safe ones.
As an MSNBC interview last week shed light on, many voters in Georgia, an actual swing state, including Black women, still don’t support either politician, a week before the election. One even told the interviewer, “I’d write your name in at this point [over Trump or Biden].” When asked what they wanted to see from Biden and Harris, they responded with the most simple request: a true apology for the 1994 crime bill and tough-on-crime policies that destroyed the lives of millions of Black people. As residents of a true swing state who genuinely sound like they will vote third party, your efforts might be better off trying to campaign to them instead of, hypothetically, getting mad on Twitter over some guy from San Francisco who’s campaigning for the Green party in California.
Feature image: Courtesy of AP News.