I’ve been having a worthwhile back-and-forth with a friend involving the merits and pitfalls of supporting a third-party candidate (namely Jill Stein) *this close to our election, and in *this system we [sadly still] live by. Below is my friend’s latest prompt followed by my response. You can read my related inquiries here and here. After reading, we’d love to know: What do you think?
If we want a new system, we can’t pretend as if the limits to the one we still live in don’t exist.
So you’re telling me that if the machine has squeezed us into only two options we must resign ourselves to what they have given us? IF and SINCE it is the same money behind both parties, how does that work out for any of us?
I appreciate that we can have this conversation! My position is that the system whose bounds we live by (the machine) has successfully and ruefully squeezed us into only two options with a statistical chance of winning—the outcome of which is our hand being forced to vote (or not) for a problematic candidate—one being considerably more problematic than the other. I too want the degree of change to our political system that is hard/impossible to imagine with Hillary as POTUS [President of the United States] but don’t agree that voting for a third-party candidate is a responsible choice in consideration of our current system’s limitations.
As our predicament highlights, this moment in politics is an enraging catch-22 (especially for progressives). AND I think if we zoom out, an option is revealed that doesn’t include either A.) playing our system’s dubious odds in hopes of a Stein presidency or B.) proverbially burning our system down because it’s finally been revealed just how rigged it actually is. The third way is this: the Bernie movement has demonstrated that at least a plurality will no longer tolerate our system working as it does, and if we keep pushing in the space between this election and the next, we WILL have a system that better reflects our values. I don’t see a comprehensible path to a victory of this magnitude prior to the election. In this light, if you’re a proponent for options A. or B. or a C. that I’m not aware of, I’m wondering how you imagine such an option playing out?
As an aside, reducing this progressive dilemma to our being coerced into voting for the “lesser evil,” putting aside the complications of assigning Satan’s ethos to a human being, is misguiding not only because it implies a viable third option but also because it advances the misconception that a vote reflects entirely someone’s principles. Votes, whether for people or for policy, are inherently binary (lest we opt for withdrawal, which plays the same game but on an estranged stage) and yet we long for a system that would consider our intent behind each vote. I hope and will work toward the day where we live inside a system that actually translates citizens’ nuanced preferences into citizens’ votes. I can even envision that day occurring within the next 4 years. But I’ve yet to see how throwing support behind a third-party candidate prior to this election moves us closer to the reality we crave without risking its sabotage. If we want a new system, we can’t pretend as if the limits to the one we still live in don’t exist.