If you’re a liberal come here to scold me into voting for Joe Biden, go away. I’m doing my part: I won’t be Tweeting about Biden’s history of sexual harassment until after the election. I requested my absentee ballot and I’m voting. And, yes… I’m voting for Biden. But I can’t get on the happy Democratic train that is “riding with Biden.”
I made this video for all the grumpy leftists and progressives and people trying not to think about how Biden is the Democratic candidate. As if this year, with the wildfires and the plague and the economy and the more wildfires wasn’t bad enough, apparently, the best the Dems could do against the orange cheeto facsist Internet comment come to life that is our president— the best politician they could find was… Biden. Yay!
No, a vote for a third party isn’t a vote for Donald Trump. It’s a vote for someone who hopefully won’t scream about the wildfires in California and how this is all the Republicans’s fault while at the same time, refuse to back the Green New Deal for being too radical. Or criticize Trump’s handling of COVID, while not supporting healthcare for all.
So, I’m not here to talk you into voting for Biden. I’m here to talk about third parties, and why I’m not voting third party in 2020. I haven’t really gotten over being betrayed by Ralph Nader. And I’m still waiting for this progressive, socialist revolution the left loves to talk about.
But if I’m going to talk about this election, I’m going to need a beer.
So, the first presidential election I voted in was in 2000, with the infamous race of George W. Bush versus Al Gore.
Activist Ralph Nader was running, a consumer advocate and the author of “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which took on car companies reluctance to introduce basic safety features. I’m from Detroit, and someone fighting against the car companies really appealed to me— and I thought Gore was such an uninspiring candidate.
I went to Nader’s rallies. He said we were building a leftist coalition. A movement! Maybe if enough of us voted, the Green Party would get matching funds in the next election! A way to actually change the two-party system!
And bless my optimistic 19-year old heart, I believed him. I voted for Nader in 2000. He and Winona LaDuke got almost three million votes. I was excited! Not enough for matching funds, but surely enough for a movement! Right?
Well, no. I watched as Nader took any momentum built up from the 2000 election to… kick the Green Party aside and run an independent candidate four years later. Nader didn’t stick around and try to build the Green Party into something that could get more lefty politicians onto the ballot and into office. He went and actively campaigned in swing states.
To me, squandering that energy he’d built up was awful. It also seemed like Nader was less out to build a viable third party, and more like he just wanted to hurt the Democrats. Maybe it was vanity, too? I mean, in 2004, there were Democratic candidates that Nader liked— he said that Dennis Kucinich was a “genuine progressive.” So why didn’t those two work together? Or Howard Dean, who I voted for? Damn that scream in Iowa.
The one thing I learned from the Bush years: trying to unite leftists and progressives around a candidate is difficult. In the end, John Kerry got the Democratic nomination, and then lost to Bush… in part, to me, because he was a waffling centrist. I mean, Kerry voted for the Patriot Act and for the 2002 Iraq War. And I was supposed to get excited about this guy?
But, even a second Bush term didn’t unite leftists in a meaningful way. Likely because Barack Obama was seen as such a progressive darling, any movement toward building a real, united leftist movement didn’t work in 2008. And we all relaxed and got distracted again in 2012.
Which is why I’m so suspicious when people talk about voting third party now, that maybe a second Trump term will finally unite the left! I mean, I’d love the idea of a united left, but I don’t know if I believe it. I mean, this year, we’ve had massive civil uprisings over race; a government that’s black-bagging it’s own citizens; and a president who has spent the last three years telling people that they can’t trust the media or facts or places like the World Health Organization. They can only trust him. This is scary, and I think this is a perfect time for the left to…. Do something.
But you know what? I wish the left would do something other than argue about how everyone else isn’t leftist enough. Or try and build an actual movement that does something other than engage in endless, pointless infighting.
Because, honestly— If I didn’t believe so strongly that our cause is just, that ending systemic racism, ending capitalism’s death grip on the environment, and ending sexism and homophobia is necessary, I wouldn’t want to deal with us either.
I spend a lot of time on lefty groups and pages on social media, and wow. Some of it is great discourse! And a lot of it is just endless bickering.
For example: someone will ask if it’s better to reform the current system or just overthrow it, and a discussion will commence. Then someone complains about white people “performing” activism in the Black Lives Matter Movement, while downthread, a fight about bisexual lesbians breaks out.
Someone on Facebook starts a tag group about cringy leftists, half the white people get upset that they might need to do some unpacking about their internalized racism, and the other half go to over to Reddit, where the post with the most upvotes is a list of the best lefty books to read, and then go over to Twitter, which is overrun with guillotine memes and white hot GIF reactions. And everyone gets owned, everyone is declared either cringe or trash, and nothing gets done.
I mean, K-pop fans show more unity than leftists.
And for white people: if you spend more time online arguing how you’re not racist than actually doing stuff to fight racism, I have some bad news for you. And yes, bi lesbians are valid, Don’t at me.
But having said all that: I’m sorry, third parties are just not ready for the big time, and at this rate, they never will be. I admit, part of the reason third parties don’t get attention in elections is by design: to actually change who gets on the ballot, that change would have to come from governments… which are controlled by politicians who are either Dem or GOP. So, they have absolutely no interest in doing that.
But part of it is how disorganized and bad the third parties are. Remember in 2016? The Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, was ok waffling about vaccines causing autism. And the
Libertarian Party candidate couldn’t find Allepo on a map.
The year, in 2020, current Green Party candidate has a Joel Rogan debate at in his pinned Tweet. The Socialist Party— I’m sorry, the Party for Socialism and Liberation— is literally a write in candidate in most states.
Write-ins? How quaint. If I’m looking for new and exciting ways to have my political clout mean even less, I’ll let you know!
I’m making jokes because I want these options to really be on the ballot.
I don’t want to watch the world burn because our two-party systems kept corporate-owned suits in power. I want to unfuck the world now— make education more accessible, make health care universal, finally get some justice for Native Americans— starting with dismantling the Dakota Pipeline.
But I don’t know how to unite the left.
Before you vote third party, I want to ask you just this: can you support those parties the rest of the year? Because if we could build an actual party, we could do something. Follow the Green Party or the Socialist Party on Twitter or other social media, share their stuff… and not just during a presidential election year. But the rest of the year. These parties exist during congressional races, and gubernatorial elections, and elections for mayor.
Because I keep seeing this happen: every four years, the Dems find some boring person to vote for, the progressives and leftists all make faces, and that’s the only time third parties get much notice.
A lot of leftists I know have given up on the current voting/political process entirely, laughing at my suggestions to email senators or otherwise engage… and while I totally get that emailing politicians or even organizing protests probably doesn’t have much of an impact, why discount it entirely? Why yell into the void on Twitter, when you could yell at the suits who are in power? What good are you beliefs, if you don’t at least try to realize them?
Some leftists are waiting for things to reach a certain point, and we’ll all unite and have a revolution. Which sounds awesome! I mean, comrades, are we doing this? There’s a plague, parts of the US are literally on fire, and our current system of capitalism has failed. So, are we fucking doing this? Let’s ride at dawn, bitches!
Why wait for four more years of Trump? How bad do things have to get before the left unites?
Which is why I’m not voting third party. I don’t believe the Democrats will make things much better, but I don’t think that waiting around for the perfect moment to start a revolution is the answer either.
So, I’m voting for Biden. If you’re not, please support third parties the rest of the year— don’t make this a protest vote. Make it part of a movement.
Or ask yourself: how bad will we let things get before taking action?
And hey, I’ll leave the comments open. If anyone got ideas on how to unite the left, let me know.
Stay angry, comrades.
Why Ralph Nader is dissociating himself from the Green Party:
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