Voting third party is a reckless abuse of privilege

This is not the time to screw around. 

No third party candidate is going to be elected president in 2020, but third party votes will count. They will be part of the margin that decides swing states like Michigan.

Voting is a unique and powerful opportunity to participate in our political system–a privilege in itself. Voting third party demonstrates another kind of privilege, though. 

It doesn’t just mean that your beliefs don’t align clearly with either Trump or Biden; it means you can afford to not be heard. I can only conclude that this luxury comes from:

  1. Being a person whose safety is not threatened by having a president who won’t condemn white supremacy.
  2. Living in a community will not be among the first impacted by climate change.
  3. Not having an identity for which the balance of the Supreme Court is essential for maintaining rights.
  4. Not having the Brett Kavanaugh hearings trigger PTSD.
  5. Not having an identity that has been the target of the vitriolic rhetoric spewed by our current presidential administration.
  6. Not belonging to a demographic which is disproportionately killed and hospitalized by COVID-19.
  7. Belonging to a demographic for which it is statistically improbable to ever be the victim of police brutality.

and finally

  1. Persisting in being more interested in ideological paragon than in loving those of your neighbors who cannot claim points 1-7.

I’m as antipathetic to the two-party system as the next op-ed writer, but now is simply not the time to waste your vote on a show of stubbornly elitist virtue–not when you could be using it to show genuine support for Black lives, the health of the planet, and basic human dignity.

Voting for Joe Biden may not have that guts-and-glory, me-against-the-world feeling of voting third party, but it demonstrates a sense of humility and long-term vision.

I’m from Vermont, so Bernie’s my #1, and I’m personally much more progressive than the Biden-Harris ticket. Thinking of this election as a step, not a destination, has been key to my processing. Obviously Joe Biden is not the ideal destination for lots of voters. But he’s a step in a good direction, or–if you prefer–a step away from a bad direction. 

At the very least, voting for Joe Biden is a step. Voting third party is like standing still while everyone else does hundred-yard sprints.

Voting third party may seem like a way to stand up for your ideals or heroically defy the two-party system. In practicality, though, it is not a defense of ideals but an abandonment of them.

Now, of all times, we can not afford to be standing still.