Essay #1: Changing Your Mindset About Voting

In the months since Bernie Sanders dropped out of the democratic primary race, I have seen many people use the phrase “vote blue no matter who”. During the primaries, I was supporting Andrew Yang. I purchased the “MATH” hat, I donated money, and I made calls to registered democrats in Iowa as a part of his campaign volunteer effort. I made a few hundred dials, but only a few people picked up. Of the people who picked up, fewer still would make it through the full survey I was tasked to administer. The dozen or so Iowans that stuck around to chat with me, was an interesting group. They were kind, patient, and patriotic. None of them were thrilled about any particular Democratic candidate, but they all desperately wanted to usurp the Trump administration.

I am not a registered democrat, but I identify with mostly liberal values and I voted for Obama twice. In 2016 I did not vote, and it was not totally clear to me why. Like the Iowan democrats I spoke to, I felt very unimpressed by either candidate. There was so much outrage surrounding Trump, that it felt like people were overlooking how unexciting of a candidate Hillary Clinton was. Why, though, was I unable to make the strategic decision, and cast my vote for what I perceived to be the lesser of two evils? I posted on Facebook about my choice not to vote and it was somewhat unpopular. People brought up good points, and I had some discussions about the importance of voting. My stance has changed since then and I will be voting in November, but probably not for Trump or Biden.

It is clearer to me now, why I felt the way I felt in 2016 and decided not to vote. I see my vote as an endorsement. If I do not endorse you, then I cannot vote for you. I am sure this is as unpopular as my decision not to vote but let me explain to you why I think this is important.

In the rhetoric of the Democratic party, Donald Trump is the biggest threat to America. So, in response to the greatest threat of our time and the most important election of our lives… they put forth Joe Biden and Kamala Harris?

Do you want to have Joe Biden in charge of the coronavirus response? Your answer may be yes, but I would wager your reasoning is along the lines of “at least he will be better than Trump”. You may be right, but why the heck can’t we have someone who will be objectively good at handling this crisis? Why are we grading our leaders on a curve? The GOP and the DNC, whether on purpose or unintentionally, have tricked us all into lowering our standards to a laughable level. For the upcoming election Bernie supporters have put Medicare For All on hold, Warren supporters have put student debt forgiveness on hold, Yang supporters have put UBI on hold. Why is this? It is because we have no leverage since we allow the DNC (and the GOP) to co-opt our vote for strategic reasons in almost every election.

If Joe Biden wins in November, I know during the 2024 election we will “need” to put all our principles and positions on hold once again. The republican candidate, whomever they may be (it could be Trump again!), will be portrayed as yet another existential threat. We will once again be told to wait on our “radical” proposals because we need to capture swing voters or the moderate left in order to secure the election.

Your vote is your right, but the whole purpose of this right is to make those whom you vote for accountable for their actions. If enough people increased their standards for voting, we could recapture the leverage that we are entitled to and the DNC (and the GOP) would once again be forced to reckon with the will of its constituents. In November, join me in taking back our leverage and vote for neither major party candidate. This strategy may not shift the tide of this election, but it may make the parties realize in the next election, your vote is not a given. They must earn it.

P.S. If you are curious about this, check out Bret Weinstein’s Unity2020 project. He is trying to set up a set of candidates that would be more capable than either of the party’s submissions and has a lot of the same reasons I have spoken about in this essay. I am not sure if I will be voting with them or writing in someone else on my ballot in November.

P.P.S. I look forward to thoughtful discussion in the comments. If any readers have ideas for future topics, write that in the comments as well.

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