It has long been established that the two-party system is here to stay. A historical precedent, starting with the federalist debate, set the long reigning two-party system. With no shortage of corporate money pouring into both parties, and the winner takes all system of the electoral college, competition pins only the two against each other. The two-party system of the United States creates an environment where, in terms of voting, all ideologies in either wing depend on consolidation. Votes are rarely being won on the left, but are given to the DNC by fear of the latter, four years of the opposition. The two-party system depresses voter opinion, and there is no better place to see this than the progressive versus centrist left wing discourse on Joe Biden.
The struggle is not limited to leftist voters. For example, the libertarian party, which is in support of “Laissez Faire” capitalism, or hands off capitalism, amasses a significant amount of votes each cycle. However, capitalism is a bipartisan issue for both the DNC and the GOP, an idea non-negotiable for the anarcho-capitalists of the libertarian party. A majority of leftists, and less liberals, share little to no common ground with the centrist Democratic candidates that the DNC churns out every cycle. This is why this blog post focuses on the discourse of progressive versus centrist Democrats, a clear and undeniable dilemma surrounding the 2020 election, and not a more generalized version on how the two party system undermines opinion.
Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, and his track record is haunting him. From supporting the Iraq war, being the perpetrator in numerous sexual assault allegations, to 40 years of supporting social security cuts, the Democratic nominee has a largely inexcusable track record for leftist and liberal voters alike. For some voters who feel that voting Donald Trump out of office is an predominant feat, it comes down to voting for one of two sexual abusers. No matter one’s views on the left wing spectrum, voting blue comes with, at the very least, a moral dilemma.
Mr. Biden remains a centrist Democrat in his policies today. Treading on eggshells in order to not explicitly express support for Black Lives Matter protests, Joe Biden promises to further fund the police. Mr. Biden opposes medicare for all, in opposition, 88 percent of Democrats support it. Biden rejects support for the Green New Deal. In the wake of racial, climate and medicinal crises, many left wing voters believe in immediate, radical change, to which Biden offers superficial propositions. Progressive voters aren’t happy, but the healthcare industry cannot keep a smile off its’ face!
Since the finalization of Biden’s democractic nomination, born from many previous elections, harm-reduction shaming has taken on a new skin. Liberal voters, who, understandably, are deeply afraid of the Trump presidency, are accepting the fate of “voting blue no matter who”. Viral graphics, organizations such as Settle for Biden, along with hashtags of different variations of #votebluenomatterwho are amassing hundreds of thousands of interactions online. The majority of the media created or ideas presented by liberal voters is not in support of Joe Biden’s candidacy, but against Trump’s.
Perhaps the most alarming is the discourse between “settle for Biden” liberals, and leftists who are either reluctant, not voting blue, or abstaining from voting altogether. Those in support of the movement to elect any Democratic candidate have a disdain for progressives voting third party or abstaining from voting, and accuse them of indirectly casting their vote for Trump. In this article from Politicoup, these accusations are shown well here, “If you’re voting for Trump (or a third party candidate to “punish” the DNC) you have to meet with your Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Black, Muslim and Hispanic friends and explain why your need for spite is more important than their right to live free and happy lives.” This article was written about the 2016 elections, convincing leftists to vote for Clinton. However, the discourse reins the same in 2020. This claim that non-voters are “too privileged” to acknowledge the detriment of the Trump presidency is not true. Those who are dissatisfied with the two-party system, and do not vote for this reason are disproportionately non-white and poor. Not only this, but liberals, a lot of whom do not favor Biden to a more progessive candidate, are desperate for leftist voters’ support in nominating a candidate who does not earn their vote.
It is important to understand how the two-party system is established, and how the presidential election process is set up in favor of the two-party system. Better known as the “Winner-takes-all” system, most states require a presidential candidate to win the majority vote in the state to win all of its electoral votes. In many states, only one vote is allowed to be cast for the seat. If the candidate is the minority, no matter how close the count is, they will receive no elector’s votes for that state, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska. With very little representation, aside from possible cameos on a local level, and little funding, it is close to impossible to get one’s foot in the door as a third party candidate.
Two-party domination is not only a suppression of voter opinion, but in her paper, Pernicious Polarization and Democratic Resilience: Analyzing the U.S. in Comparative Perspective, Professor McCoy lists it as a symptom of the United States’ democratic fragility. She examines how the two parties interact, citing Donald J Trump’s impeachment hearings. The two parties see one another as an existential threat to the country, or their base, and the dynamic of the GOP and DNC consists of finger pointing and political gridlock. This inhibits the ability of the government to manage conflict, assist during times of crisis(the United States cannot even make enough n94 masks, COVID-19 tests are still not readily available), and other dire issues that need immediate attending by a governing body. The issue of fearing “throwing away” a vote if not casting a ballot for one of two main parties, in itself is great as a suppression of opinion, but it even more so establishes this symptom of democratic backsliding.
While voting is an integral part of our democracy, it is important now, to understand how it can be improved. Ranked choice voting is a system implemented on a local level in many states, but besides Maine, none use it statewide. Ranked choice voting, as it works in Maine, allows, but does not require, voters to list nominees in order of preference. If no candidates win a majority of the votes, the ranked choice process begins. In the elimination process, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated, but those who participated in ranking will have their second choice votes carried over to the next round. Once again, a candidate is eliminated, but votes carry over. This is repeated until a candidate is chosen.
Ranked choice voting may eliminate a lot of issues seen in the liberal dilemma described in this blog. A leftist, whose first choice is Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, now has an option to fit remaining candidates into succeeding positions, while still casting their first choice for the candidate they truly want to see in office. Without the fear of “losing out” on a vote, voters would be free to truly express their opinion on a ballot, and third party candidates have a much higher chance to accept positions in federal office.
No one is to blame but the system that allows the silencing of all but two parties. #Settleforbiden voters are just afraid of the latter, and Joe Biden’s centrist policy is not enough for some leftists to reward the DNC with a vote. The deadlock of two left-wing ideologies, who dislike the same candidate, is a long overdue sign to treat the polarization that is being created by the two-party, single member districts.