No, you may NOT vote third party even if you don't live in a battleground state. Here's why.



This is becoming tiring, as once again, purists on the left talk up third party voting because they consider Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to embody less than perfect personalities for their taste.

I say personalities and not policies, because the ideologues have made it pretty clear that they don't, in fact, care about policy. Joe Biden has presented a forward-thinking, progressive, practical policy agenda that should make anyone on the left proud. Biden proposes massive investments in infrastructure, universal pre-school, tuition-free community college for all and tuition-free four-year education in state schools for families making under $125,000 a year, a comprehensive agenda to slash our carbon footprint in half by 2035 and be completely carbon free by 2050, health care as a right with a public option and reducing the Medicare age to 60, raising taxes on corporations and the rich by a significant amount, racial equality, and police and criminal justice reform.

But the element on the left that does the bidding of the radical right - the faction of the left that encourages voters on the left, center-left and even the center to vote third party (or not vote at all) - in order "send a message" to "establishment Democrats" who fail to meet their ever elusive, purely personality-based 'standards' are only interested in punishing the Democratic for this 'failure'.

Take Briahna Joy Gray, for example. The 2016 Jill Stein voter who was hired by (and likely doomed) Bernie Sanders as press secretary in 2020, saw it fit to lecture Noam Chomsky, who, mind you, is no neoliberal pansy, on why "leveraging" one's vote against Joe Biden is the right thing to do while fascism is on the march in America.

But the likes of Gray often argue that not only should the beating of the Democratic party - the only viable vehicle for progress on everything the left pretends to care about - continue until morale improves, it is an especially right thing to do if you live in a state that is not a traditional 'swing' state. The argument goes like this: "I live in New York (or for a red example, West Virginia), there's no way Trump would ever win (or in case of West Virginia, not win) here, so I should vote my 'conscience' and either not vote or vote third party." This, they argue, would "make a statement" without jeopardizing the chance for Democrats to defeat Trump in the electoral college.

This argument is dangerously wrong for a number or reasons.

First, if your conscience is telling you that your vote is to be used for anyone other than the only viable alternative on your ballot to fascism and wholesale dismantling of this country, some serious soul searching is in order. If your conscience allows you to leverage your vote - and that of others - to enable and empower Trumpism, your conscience is unconscionable.

Second, no one can argue, in good faith, that the right thing to do - in this case defeating fascism - changes moral colors based on where a voter lives. A voter in New York or California should not have a moral pass to commit an act which, if committed in Michigan or Florida in large scale could hand Trump an extended stay at the White House. Your residence in Massachusetts no more absolves you of your responsibility to protect the rights of women, people of color, working people, LGBT people, poor people, immigrants, and those persecuted because of their faith than someone's zip code in Pennylvania.

Third, and more practically, even solidly blue and solidly red states have downballot races for Senate, House, state legislatures, city councils, school boards, and ballot initiatives that need the turnout for our side to win. California still has eight Republican members of the House. In Kansas, the Democratic Senate candidate is evenly matched in polling with the Republican incumbent. Michigan, where Biden appears to enjoy a solid lead, the race for the US Senate is much closer.

Indeed, this means you must not only turn out for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in 2020, but also for Democrats up and down the ballot this year and in 2022, and every single election from now on, because regardless of what happens to Donald Trump, Trumpism will be on the ballot for the foreseeable future.

Fourth, third parties have never established that they can deliver on a positive agenda and accomplish real progress at any level of government, let alone at the highest levels. Elections cannot be about what people say but what they do and what they can accomplish. The vaunted "platforms" of third parties are not worth the space the downloaded file occupies on your iPad because they have no plan, no pathway, and no desire to actually put any of it into effect. What moralizers present as 'vision' form modern third parties are, without exception, works of fiction.

The professional left's focus on promises over progress, dogmatism over practicality, and on 'punishing' Democrats over defeating the radical right is the reason we find Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump at the precipice of confirming a third nominee to the Supreme Court. It was because of the leftist echo chamber depressing Democratic turnout over the past decade that Republicans took control of the Senate in 2014 in the lowest-turnout midterm since 1942.

Our votes are not "leverage." Our votes are the shield we are morally commanded to use to protect the most vulnerable among us. That's what 'Not me, us' should be about.