A very liberal social media friend of mine, who I must admit has seen more of the world than I have, has publicly declared that they will not vote for Biden. In his worldview there isn't much difference between the two men - and his worldview is mostly about wars and corporate control of this country. Biden won't change very much about either of these things. He's voted for war, and he makes Bill Clinton look like a bleeding-heart.
So today he posted on his own stream the following: "Biden voters: what, if anything, could prompt you to not vote for Joe, and vote Green or abstain? Or is this just blind faith?"
My response? "Nothing."
In an ideal world it would be nice to have more than these two options, and no Biden isn't the best we could have even gotten from the Democrats. But someone needs to get MORE votes than Trump, and his method, while principled and perfectly acceptable, isn't going to get it done.
The biggest problem with the whole third party option is that no one keeps pushing for it in the off years. You can't build a base by pushing for it every 4 years - it must be constant and loud, and no one has really done that.
Biden is no Liberal. No argument there. He's a corporatist in the mold of Clinton. And yes, some of the awful things Trump has done aren't going to stop. This is America, after all. That country you want (and that I want as well) doesn't exist. It got stabbed in the back by Reagan and has been in decline ever since.
But for THIS election, and this election only, it's not about the goals and ideals. It's about getting rid of Trump, and by extension the people working for him and appointed by him. At the very least, Biden is interested in having a functioning government whereas Trump certainly isn't.
It's about kicking the asses of the worst government every living human being in this country has experienced, and that's why I will be voting for Biden.
All that said, my friend raises a valid point although he didn't say it explicitly - why is it that at least in our own lifetimes the choices have to be the lesser of two evils? Granted, this time the gap is larger than ever, but why is it that no new parties have ever gained any ground in the past century? It's not like we haven't had other political parties in charge during this country's long history.
Our very first President wasn't a member of a political party. Our second was our one and only Federalist. Four of our Presidents were members of the now extinct Whig Party (and bonus points to you if you can name all four). President Andrew Johnson tried to re-brand the Republican Party as the National Union Party but that didn't take hold. If Teddy Roosevelt had won the final time he ran, we would have had a Bull-Moose President.
Unlike most of the civilized world, we elect a leader by choosing a person. In England, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, and so on, and so on, the leader of their country is decided upon what party can gain the most votes. Then it's the leader of that party who becomes the leader of the country. While this system can have problems, like the fact that Italy has had over 50 governments since World War II, or like in Israel is a coalition can't be put together sometimes the government collapses, it is one of the few systems that doesn't fall to just two party rule. Yes, in many cases there are only two parties for a majority of seats but in many cases this is not so.
The problems with our system on the other hand, are legion and lend themselves into two party factionalism. The first is the absolute stability of our election day is built into the Constitution. When no one abuses it this is a great idea, but it also ingrains a complacency in the American public at large - in that we only need to think about politics at certain times. Go to any of the other countries I've mentioned and you will find a largely informed general public, because they need to consider it more just as part of their daily citizenship.
That complacency leads to a second problem, money. The Republican and Democratic Parties are ingrained into the fabric of our political thinking, both having been around for more than 150 years and monopolizing the political landscape. They have the same advantage that whites have over minority populations, especially blacks, in that it's systemic - and it's backed up by the money. The only two even moderately successful third party candidates in the last century had lots and lots of money - Ross Perot because he was rich and Teddy Roosevelt due to name recognition. And they both lost.
It's impossible to raise the kinds of funds necessary to create public awareness and support against a system where over 99% of all the money already goes to the parties of the entrenched.I promise you, if Jeff Bezos decided tomorrow to donate even 15% of his money to a third party that it would be all over everywhere.
This entrenchment has led to another problem, wanting power for the sake of having it, which has gotten worse over the past 40 years. There is no incentive for people in public office to just do the public good if they never have to leave. The obvious solution to this is term limits, but there is a problem with that as well - we would wind up lobbyists as the most experienced people in government, which would just mean that whomever has the most money gets to write the rules. This should be unacceptable.
And then there is the Electoral College. Because of the thresholds involved in getting a place in the Electoral College and to get your vote to count there, it is impossible to get counted there without an out and out win of a state. As in more than 50% of the vote in that state. Because of the winner take all format of the EC it just can't be done with a plurality. And because of all of the other problems this simply isn't going to happen.
So how do we fix it?
Well, short of Jeff Bezos donating his entire fortune to a new political party the only thing possible is a Constitutional Convention, which is provided for in the existing Constitution. Per Article V a convention can be called if 2/3 of all the states agree to it. As of this moment, that is 34 states. It can be as simple as the Governor wanting to do it or as difficult as getting the same margin to agree to it in the various legislatures, depending on the state. This is going to take some time to accomplish but it can be done.
- Eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with one person, one vote.
- Solve the entrenchment problem, and I'm including the lobbying problem here as well.
- Take money out of politics - make federal elections be federally funded and each candidate funded equally - let the best ideas win.
- Make it possible for Congress to call a new election. Don't make it easy, but don't make it impossible either.
- And probably lots of other ideas too...