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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/21/20

"Vote Biden, Fight Him Later" Isn't Enough

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Demand Ranked-Choice Voting. And stop letting Democrats take our votes for granted.

In the past month, we've seen a small flood of open letters and articles from environmental leaders and leaders on the left (Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, and others) all with the same basic message: "Vote for Biden in 2020, Fight Him Later."

It's hard to argue with them. Donald Trump needs to go. Sure, we'll need to challenge Joe Biden to do the right thing if he wins. The authors and signers are all too aware that Biden's campaign platform and troubling record as senator promise another Democratic administration dedicated to war and Wall Street.

That brings us to the two necessary components missing from "Vote Biden, Fight Him Later." The first is a call to enact Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV).

The second is an acknowledgement that without a declaration of independence from the Democratic Party, Biden will feel no pressure from the left.

RCV cancels the alleged spoiler factor that Democrats and their progressive apologists fret over in every election. The main target of the open letters and essays is people who might be tempted to vote for Green presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and running mate Angela Walker, as if the main obstacle to a Biden victory will be the votes they receive. More about that below.

The Bernie Sanders campaigns in 2016 and 2020 showed us how millions of Democratic voters, especially young people, want an alternative to neoliberals like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden -- and revealed how intensely the Dem establishment will resist any effort to push the party to the left.

Biden and his fellow corporate-cash Democrats will ignore pressure from progressives as long as they can take our votes for granted. If we want to have any effect on the policies of the Biden-Harris administration, we must stop allowing that to happen.

RCV Now!

Ranked-Choice Voting is one of several overdue election reforms, including Proportional Representation, abolition of the Electoral College, and repeal of state ballot-access laws designed by Ds and Rs to privilege their own candidates and hinder third-party candidates and independents. (Among such laws is the requirement in some states of a presidential ticket for a party to achieve ballot status.)

RCV is already on the books in some cities and in Maine, where Lisa Savage is running a strong Green campaign for the U.S. Senate.

While Dems continue to cry "Spoiler!", they've mostly rejected RCV, even when it would give their own candidates an advantage. Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would have won easily with RCV. Instead, they accuse Greens of stealing or siphoning votes away from their candidates, as if the Democratic Party owns our votes.

It makes us wonder if Democrats would rather lose to the GOP than tolerate a political field that gives voters more than two choices.

Since 2016, they've complained that Jill Stein, along with Russian bots and Wikileaks, is the reason they lost in 2016. These were negligible factors at best in the election outcome.

In reality, Dems lost millions of votes because of an uninspiring neoliberal warhawk nominee who botched her campaign strategy, declining to visit two key swing states. Nonvoters and the Electoral College handed Trump his victory. The nine percent of registered Dems who voted for Trump, according to exit polls, also helped put him over the top. The Democratic Party doesn't want to talk about that.

While leftist circles fuss over the possibility that Hawkins will spoil in 2020, here's a more likely scenario (and it's not going to endear me to some Greens): Hawkins's numbers will turn out like the 2004 results for David Cobb (Green) and Ralph Nader (Independent), both of whom got under a half percent and had no effect on the outcome of the election.

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Scott McLarty is former media director for the Green Party of the United States. He has had articles, guest columns, and book reviews published in Roll Call, TheHill,, Z Magazine, CounterPunch, Green Horizon, The Progressive (more...)

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