Opinion: Table for three?

Staff Writer Richard Pereira and Contributing Writer Kendall Little share their thoughts on voting third-party in the 2020 Presidential Election.


Illustration by J.R. Pfeiffer.

Richard Pereira and Kendall Little

Richard Pereira I Staff Writer

As the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election is underway, the majority of Americans will have voted for either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden.

Then there is the minority who voted for third party candidates like Jo Jorgensen of the Libertarian Party, Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, or Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

There is one problem those voters have faced for many elections throughout their decisions to vote: Voter-shaming.

They might be familiar with phrases such as “third parties never win,” “voting third party is a vote for (insert candidate here),” “you can’t vote third party because you must vote for the lesser evil,” or “you’re throwing your vote away.”

Voters have to keep settling for what the main candidates have to offer no matter how bad they are, but whenever they vote for what they want, they get berated for not voting a certain way that benefits a specific side.

It’s disgraceful that people are being shamed for voting the way they want just because it doesn’t make an impact in the short-term.

If democracy is as essential as the U.S. says it to be, then people should be allowed to vote their conscience instead of the lesser of two evils.

Why the “lesser of two evils” argument weakens democracy

For those who are not familiar with it, the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument is the idea that when faced with two bad options, the least bad one should be chosen.

It would not be a major issue if it was only used for one election to take out an immediate evil. The problem, however, is it has been used many times for multiple elections that it has distorted what is supposed to be good or bad for the country.

It has now become a privileged excuse politicians use to prevent voters from stepping out of line and protesting the decisions made by them while in office.

The bigger issue is it enables the ‘lesser evil’ to continue getting worse over time while knowing it won’t lose its power because they’ll continue to get a majority of the votes no matter what.

In my view, there is no lesser evil as both options will continue damaging the country if nothing is done about it. 

There is no lesser evil in racism, there is no lesser evil in warmongering, there is no lesser evil in authoritarianism, there is no lesser evil in imperialism, and there is no lesser evil in corruption as no issue should in any case.

It is not a flaw for a candidate to be a racist, warmonger, authoritarian, or imperialist; it is a decision they make that comes at the expense of the people affected by it.

Until people understand the ramifications and stop using it as the go-to argument, it is going to take a long time to get meaningful change done if we were to move forward.

Why voting third party strengthens democracy

Most Americans are in favor of having a major third-party come to power in the U.S., according to Newsweek.

The biggest impact third parties have in politics is bringing important issues to light while gaining popularity as a party with many people supporting their ideas. 

If people want the main parties to listen to their demands, they have to show that their vote has to be earned. Politicians won’t take them as seriously as maintaining power, specifically the votes, is the only thing that will matter to them.

It’s undemocratic to keep people from voting the way they want as democracy depends on the honesty of the people in every election that comes by.

A vote for a Republican is a vote for a Republican, a vote for a Democrat is a vote for a Democrat, and a vote for a third party is a vote for a third party. That’s all there is to it and nothing else.

Allowing people to vote for what they want, not the lesser of two evils, is democracy working at its best.

Richard Pereira is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.

Kendall Little | Contributing Writer

I love the ideals and morals of the Green Party, but I did not vote for Howie Hawkins in the 2020 election. Allow me to explain why.

There have only been two third party candidates to ever secure any electoral college votes since the end of World War II: Strom Thurmond and George Wallace. It is not the time to take a risk on a third party vote during an election as influential as this year’s.

Recent polls taken from NBC News reveal that the race for president is close as of Nov. 3, with Biden sitting at 51.8% and Trump at 44.4%. Not all votes have been accounted for, but we know that the results will be close in number.

Voting third party will not make a short-term impact, which is extremely important to do this year. Trump and Biden are incredibly different in their policies and ideals which will directly affect women, LGBTQ+, and people of color. When it is most likely that either Trump or Biden will win, it shows a voter’s privilege if they still feel comfortable voting for someone who has no chance of winning.

You can show distaste for a candidate without voting third party

Like most elections within the party, a population of people did not have Biden listed as their first choice for a Democratic nominee. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang were among the lengthy list of potential presidential candidates this year. Though they were not selected, many of their supporters have shifted their focus to Biden.

Realistically, voters realized that their pick for president was not going to win. Therefore to accomplish the greater good, they backed Biden. Writing in a candidate or voting third party was not going to get Trump out of office, so the best option was to vote for the person whose views aligned best with their own.

Former Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders supporters joined together to create a grassroots group called Settle for Biden. The group acknowledges that Biden is flawed, but also knows that getting Trump out of the White House is more important than voting for their perfect candidate that does not stand a chance at winning.

The group has an Instagram account that posts memes about Joe Biden’s mediocrity, which proves them to be self-aware. The idea is that making the country somewhat better is more efficient than making it worse in the hands of Donald Trump.

You don’t have to vote third party to stay true to your morals.

There are other ways to show support for what you believe in than voting for a candidate that doesn’t stand a chance. Participate in protests, call Congress, sign petitions, and vote for someone who can make it into office and create positive change.

Taking a vote away from Biden or Trump doesn’t make you a better person. At the end of the day, if you want Trump out of office, voting third party will not help.

In 2016, third party votes in swing states cost former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the win. The numbers were incredibly close in these influential states and because Clinton could not secure the necessary votes, she lost the states. In turn, President Donald Trump was elected. 

Ultimately, people can vote for who they want, but in an election as urgent as this year’s, every vote is key. Looking at the big picture was essential for voting this year. Biden may not be the ideal candidate, but if third party voters are as adamant about their beliefs as they claim, getting a person who shares none of their morals out of office should be the main concern. 

Kendall Little is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @klittlewrites.