With yesterday’s results from Ohio’s special election, it’s clear that some people haven’t learned the lessons of the 2016 and 2000 elections. If you voted for some third-party candidate, “some people” is you.
Political science has few hard laws, but there if you were to ask a political scientist what the strongest result of political science is, they would almost certainly point you at Duverger’s Law. This states that in elections where there is a single winner in an election and a plurality is sufficient to win, you tend to get a two-party system. In short, your vote for someone who isn’t the Democratic candidate is a vote for the Republicans who have made it clear that they will not stand up to Trump.
But what about Sandra Ocasio-Cortez you ask. She has a D after her name, I answer. In a primary, go ahead and vote for the ideologically pure candidate who’s willing to go out on a limb for Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage. I’m with you on that. But come the general election, if your candidate didn’t win, you must vote for the Democrat. Anything else is a vote to continue the policies of Trump. You might as well be casting your vote for the KKK.
But what about Bernie Sanders you ask. Yes, he’s an independent in the senate, but when he ran for president, he knew that he had no chance of winning without that D after his name. His first campaign for congress led to a Republican winning the election with 41% of the vote. He won the next time around because there was no Democrat on the ballot. He didn’t caucus with the Democrats during his tenure in the house and learned that this was a guarantee for existing in the wilderness. When he ran for senate, he effectively ran as a Democrat and pledged to caucus with the Democrats. Had he run as a Democrat from the beginning, he would have had a greater influence as a politician, if only because he would have had two more years’ tenure in the house. It was only when he was effectively the Democratic candidate that he actually won elections and didn’t just hand the seat to the Republicans.
The general election is in three months. The Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives or, for roughly two-thirds of those reading, the Senate, might not be ideal. You may not be excited about him or her. But it’s essential to vote for the Democrat (likewise for any down-ballot races, especially your state legislature and governor since they will likely be in office when the all-important district boundaries are set after the 2020 census). You might think that Hillary Clinton was a neo-liberal corporate sell-out, but I can guarantee you that under a President Clinton, we would never have seen this:
Print that picture out and put it in your wallet, tape it to the ceiling over your bed, tattoo it on your forehead. Elections have consequences and this is what all those people who voted for a third-party candidate in 2016 should have on their consciences. You didn’t get Medicare for All with your vote. You got Obamacare crippled. You didn’t get a $15 minimum wage. You got tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases on the middle class and plans to cut benefits to pay for all the cash going to the 1%. And you got children separated from their parents, locked in cages and no plan to ever reunite them. If you voted for Jill Stein or wrote in Bernie, this is all on you. November is your chance to make things right.