Voting third party does not impact the election, Trump’s presidency has been catastrophic 

It’s no longer a question: Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee. To some, this is exciting; to others, this is disappointing. Nevertheless, staying home or voting third party is not the answer. This election is too critical. 

According to the Washington Post, about 43 percent of eligible voters stayed home in 2016. That election also saw high, though not record-breaking, numbers of people voting third party with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson receiving 3.3 percent of the popular vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein receiving one percent. It is impossible to determine whether these votes would have changed the results, but these votes were a significant fraction—votes that cannot be lost in 2020. 

The two choices may seem dismal, but to equate Biden with Donald Trump is a mistake. We must pick the lesser of two evils. 

Trump has demonstrated that he is undeserving of the presidency countless times. He has fiercely rejected immigrants in a way that has bread intense racism. He has encouraged foreign intervention in our elections. He has labeled honest journalism the enemy of the people. He has acted ignorantly and unreliably during this pandemic. He has appointed people to his cabinet and the Supreme Court that have absolutely no qualifications for the position. 

I could go on, but the bottom line is that Trump’s presidency has been destructive. And the most effective way to prevent another four years of this utter mayhem is to vote, not for a third party, but for Biden. 

It is impossible, even ignorant, to deny that Biden is not perfect. At all. His actions during the War on Drugs were reprehensible. His treatment of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation was wrong. Tara Reade’s allegation that Biden sexually assaulted her and other women’s claims that he has disrespectfully invaded their personal space are sickening. 

And yes, that Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee proves how easy it is for men to get away with sexual misconduct. So does the fact that Trump is president. Trump has at least 25 allegations of sexual misconduct. I cannot in good conscience vote in a way that benefits him. Voters are presented with two poor choices this election, but unless Biden steps down, it’s what we’re stuck with. 

Another source of concern when it comes to Biden is his mental state—that he stumbles to get a point across when he speaks and is forgetful. This is a valid concern; being president is a demanding role. However, when put up against the man who suggested injecting disinfectants as a cure for the coronavirus, I would have to choose Biden over Trump. 

Biden has years of political experience that suggest he actually understands the role of the president. He has expressed his belief in climate change and a willingness to develop a plan to combat it. He doesn’t express the same harmful disdain for journalists that Trump does. He doesn’t fervently oppose immigration like Trump does. The list goes on, but ultimately, I would rather Biden handle our next crisis than Trump. I would rather Biden nominate our next Supreme Court justice than Trump. I would rather Biden be president than Trump. 

A common justification from those who plan to vote third party is that it is an act of protest—a way of telling the Democratic party they want a better candidate next time. However, this only lowers the standard for candidates. By voting third party, writing someone in or staying home, voters are implying that they don’t care about the election, that they are fine with Trump winning. This does not raise the bar for future candidates, it lowers it by expressing approval for an extremely low-bar candidate—Trump. 

Biden may not be as progressive, innovative or young as your first choice, but he does stand for the same causes. He might be more moderate, but this isn’t an excuse to pass on voting for him. This is an opportunity to hold him and those around him accountable—to continue pushing them to take a stand. Voting for Biden might seem like an abandonment of progressive ideals, but at least it’s not an abandonment of democratic ideals. Letting Trump win is. 

Your candidate of choice doesn’t always get picked: that’s how elections work. The nominating process is flawed, but a protest vote won’t change that; it will perpetuate it. It will ensure another four years of irresponsible lawmaking, irrational diplomacy, secrecy and condoned racism. The phrase “every vote counts” may seem hopeless. Trump’s defeat may seem like a long shot, but we won’t know unless we try.

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