Trump is the most dangerous president we’ve had in at least a century, maybe for all time. He is tearing down the foundations of our country, following the recipe of fascists the world over to seize power, deploy government against his political enemies, enrich himself and his cronies, and destroy our system of checks and balances. This election is our best hope to avoid living in a dictatorship led by a Trump family dynasty enabled by sycophantic Republican leaders.
Does the prospect of a second Trump term and the further damage it will inflict on our country make you shudder? To dump Trump, you must vote for Biden. Voting for another candidate, or sitting out the election, either helps Trump win or helps him make good on his threats to not step down.
I’m going to use 2016 presidential election numbers to illustrate the situation. For simplicity, I’ll round the numbers and ignore the Electoral College until later.
Of the 136.7M votes cast for president in 2016, Trump received 62.9M votes and Clinton 65.8M. The remaining 8M votes went to third party and write-in candidates. The most popular of these candidates, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, received 4.5M votes. Johnson had no chance to win.
But had some of those 8M votes (almost 6% of all votes) been cast instead for Trump or Clinton, they could have changed the outcome of the popular vote, either giving Trump a popular vote victory or increasing Clinton’s popular vote victory (and possibly Electoral College outcome), or anything in between.
The votes for third-party candidates were wasted: Only two candidates had a chance to win; votes cast for other candidates played no role in choosing between the two people who could be president. None.
Why would 8M voters waste their votes? Obviously, the 8M people who voted this way don’t consider their vote wasted. It may have been wasted in terms of choosing who becomes president, but they had other goals for their vote. Here are some possibilities:
- I like a third party or a third-party candidate and want to show my support, helping to ensure the party’s future ballot access and possibly qualifying for public campaign financing.
- Republicans. Democrats. No difference. I’m fed up with both and want “real change.” My vote for a third-party candidate sends that message.
- I would never vote for a Republican. But the Democratic candidate is no good either. I’m going to send a message to the Democratic Party.
- I would never vote for a Democrat. But the Republican candidate is no good either. I’m going to send a message to the Republican Party.
Only the first reason holds water. While this would be a reasonable use of your vote normally, these are not normal times. In this election, the only result of such a vote is to further enable Trump. Given the possibly close vote between the two major parties, the risk of putting Trump back in the White House to further damage the country is just too great.
The others reasons for third-party candidate votes are about sending a message. But there’s no way to tease apart the possible messages from the vote count. Whatever the voters’ intents, these messages are lost. A message sent but not heard makes no difference. A wasted vote doesn’t even send a message.
Will Trump Peacefully Transfer Power?
Trump has refused to commit to accepting the result of the election. He’s laying the groundwork to claim that mail-in ballots are rigged. He and his enablers are suppressing voters across the country using techniques ranging from physical intimidation (asking armed goons to show up as “poll watchers” and “security guards”) to making voting as inconvenient as possible (e.g., Texas governor Abbott’s directive that there be only one ballot dropbox per county — look at a Texas map to see how ridiculous that is).
Only a Biden landslide will be enough to ensure that Trump doesn’t steal the election and refuse to peacefully transfer power.
But … the Electoral College
Winning means winning the Electoral College vote. If you don’t live in a swing state, it is unlikely that your presidential vote will directly affect the outcome. We know that some states are almost certainly going to vote Democratic and others are going to almost certainly vote Republican. If you live in such a state, your vote almost certainly won’t make a difference in the Electoral College count.
But other states are up for grabs. Currently, these are Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Georgia, New Hampshire, Texas, Virginia, and part of . If you live in one of these states your vote directly matters in the Electoral College outcome.
Regardless of where you live, your vote will matter in helping to create the large Biden landslide that we need in order to increase the likelihood of a peaceful transfer of power.
A Personal Note
I voted for Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic primary. I’ve explained why elsewhere. So, it is no secret that I’m disappointed that Biden is the Democratic candidate. But he is.
Initially, I supported Biden only because he is the alternative to Trump’s obscene presidency. As the campaign has evolved, I’ve been pleased that Biden has announced some sensible policy proposals. He generally doesn’t go after Warren’s “big, structural change,” but he does advocate incremental improvements in many areas.
If policies are important to you, check out https://joebiden.com/joes-vision/.
My message is simple: Trump and his enablers are taking us toward an authoritarian, oligarchic dictatorship. For our children’s and grandchildren’s sakes we must stop him. For our own sakes, we must stop him.
Electing Joe Biden by a landslide is the first step in stopping Trumpism. Vote for Biden to make that happen.