There is an election today in America. It is arguably one of the most important elections of my lifetime, albeit with some rather trashy candidates. What’s new right? Still, it is of no small consequence that I say voting for Joe Biden is the best chance we have at getting Trump out of the White House.
I am a Socialist, I have voted third party both in 2012 and 2016. I have never been a Democratic Party loyalist, nor will I ever be. I am not a company man. This year, however, I voted for Joe Biden. Many of my friends on the progressive left may cringe at the thought, but it’s true. Voting for Biden was not exciting, and I left the polling booth with a continued sense of distaste. I realized though that I had a tough choice to make and had to weigh the stakes.
No one was more adamantly Bernie or Bust in 2016 then me. I wrote a few pieces back then about my support for the Green Party and how voting “Blue No Matter Who” was complete nonsense. I still stand by some of those positions to be fair, others I do not. I say this to make clear where I am coming from. I am not a shill for Biden or the Democratic Party, but I did vote for him this time around, and I recommend others do the same.
You may be wondering why my positions have flipped. To be fair, I cast no dispersion on third party voters. I understand where they come from. Our electoral system sucks, and our two-party system sucks as well. There is a deep yearning to break the mold and create a new political organization to eclipse our corporate backed parties. I get it, and I wish there were a left-leaning third party that could accomplish this goal.
Here is the issue; third parties in America are not electorally viable. The closest thing we have to a viable third party is the right-wing Libertarian Party. Not a good choice to be frank. Voting for the Green Party is nothing more then a protest vote. The Green Party may be closer to your ideological orientation then the Democrats, sure. However, that means extraordinarily little if they have no actual chance of taking power.
Some on the left believe that we must leverage our votes by withholding them strategically to gain concessions from the party. This is the general theory of protest votes. The issue is, this strategy simply produces no results, and there is evidence to support my claim.
In 2000, many on the left voted for Independent Ralph Nader over Democrat Al Gore. Gore ended up losing that election to George W. Bush. I am not blaming Gore’s loss on Nader to be fair. Gore lost because he was a bad candidate. However, if the logic of Bernie or Busters is correct, Gore’s loss should have caused the Democratic Party to lean more left to get more votes. This did not happen. Instead, in 2004, they nominated John Kerry (an abysmal centrist).
In 2016. Hillary lost to Trump. She too lost because she was a terrible candidate. Again, many leftists withheld their votes for her, and she did lose. By that logic, the Democratic Party should have leaned more to the left to gain support of lefty voters. The party has yet to budge. In fact, they simply keep rerunning the same strategies. There are nuances of course, but the general trend shows that protest votes get no change from Democratic Party leadership.
Democrats are beholden to wealthy donors, and it is unlikely they will upset that applecart to appease leftist voters. The reality is the true left in America is a minority of the electorate. 2020 showed us, as painful as it was, that the left simply has not built up enough power yet in American politics. Most of the electorate are normies who do not want revolution, or at least do not know it yet. The left has yet to normalize itself first and seize the social narrative. We can only do this by playing the long game, which yes, involves electoralism.
The left has no institutional power. Because of this, our narrative is seldom spread to the population at large. We must gain more power in our institutions to drastically change them or do away with them altogether. This will not happen by voting third party. As hard as it is to admit, only by taking over one of the existing parties with institutional power will we see the Overton Window move left.
Electoralism is not the only avenue we have to work with, however. Direct action such as organizing protests and labor unions are great to employ. Direct action, however, can only be done with more favorable conditions. While not great, conditions for leftist organizing would be slightly better under the decrepit neoliberalism of Biden then with the strongman fascism of Trump. Its easier to make a movement successful when its members are not being killed or jailed.
I will admit that I do not expect things to get better under Biden. Biden is not our savior. His election will not make all our country’s issues disappear. Electing Biden will not end racism, sexism, class inequality, nor will it fix the climate crisis. These struggles will continue. I do not expect things to get better. I just do not want things to get worse.
I am a white male. If Trump wins reelection, I will likely be fine. There are people more vulnerable then me. LGBTQ people would suffer tremendously more under Trump than Biden. Race antagonism will be worse under Trump than Biden. Trump will actively seek to harm these marginalized groups with federal power. Biden, at his worst, would likely just sit back and do nothing. This is not a praise of him, just the reality. I would rather there be little to no change than for things to change in the wrong direction.
Again, I cast no judgment on people who disagree with me. I understand the sentiment and in no way am I trying to delegitimize anyone. People are angry at our system, rightfully so. I would just ask them to consider what is viable and what is not. It is important that Trump gets booted from the White House.
This is a case of choosing which enemy to battle. Would you rather spend four years battling an inept Biden or a strongman Trump? Would you rather fight someone who might possibly entertain our ideas, even if only for personal amusement, or would you rather fight someone who will not entertain us at all?