Dear Supporters of Senator Sanders….

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In January 2017, barring death/indictment/withdrawal, the United States will be led by either President Trump or President Clinton. The choice is binary.

Our process is essentially a two-party system. Making would-be third party candidates irrelevant is a feature of this system, not a bug. Of course, like all institutions created and administered by human beings, it has strengths and weaknesses and gravitates toward the status quo. In theory, it is designed to result in a moderate (by the standards of the party in question) consensus candidate, but it doesn’t always do this.

There are other systems, of course. A Parliamentary style system with proportionate representation, as we see in much of Europe, does not render irrelevant the less popular voices, and they can play a critical role in a coalition government. This means that Green Party candidates actually get elected in Europe and maybe have real power. It also means that some parties so far to the right that they make the U.S. Tea Party look moderate also get elected and maybe have real power. That’s a feature of that system, not a bug. On balance, I prefer the two-party system, but that’s just a preference.

Importantly, the two-party system in the United States is not going to change. Not ever. Casting a protest vote for a third party will not change it. Staying home and not voting will not change it. Hell, few Americans even know who Jill Stein or Gary Johnson are, and fewer still care. Our system makes them irrelevant. And not voting as a form of protest is no protest at all.  It does nothing but throw you in with the millions of other unengaged American citizens who can’t be bothered to perform their most basic civic duty.  Voting for a third party or not voting will not change the system. It will just remove your voice from it.

Because the real choice is binary – President Clinton or President Trump.

I would argue, and I would be right, that the world under a Trump Administration will look very different from the world under a Clinton Administration (think SCOTUS, if nothing else). Neither will be a perfect world. Neither will align perfectly with your values. But one will align with them better than the other. By not voting, or by casting a protest vote for a hopeless third party candidate, you make the candidate who aligns less with your values more likely to win.

Because the real choice is binary – President Clinton or President Trump.

Perhaps you hate the two-party system and the moderate/establishment/corporate candidates it nominates. I understand that. So how might you create real change in that system? Interestingly, if you’re a Sanders supporter, you do precisely what you just did. You support a candidate and movement who is not a moderate/corporate/establishment candidate and you fight like Hell to make him the nominee.  And, though you didn’t ultimately get him the nomination, in the process what you did was force the moderate/establishment/corporate candidate (and even the sitting President) to take notice of the progressive wing of the party and grapple with the issues that are important to that wing. You worked within the two party system and wrought change. Perhaps not as much as you would’ve liked, but change nevertheless. That’s a big deal. But the choice now is no longer between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

The choice now is binary – President Clinton or President Trump.

Politics is where the possible meets principle. If you’re a Sanders supporter, the candidate you most wanted is no longer possible. As between the two real choices before you now, one likely aligns more with your principles than the other. The alignment is not perfect. Perhaps it’s even an ill fit overall. But one fits better than the other — President Clinton or President Trump.

And if one fits better than the other, then a protest vote or a third-party vote is not adherence to the principles that caused you to vote for Sanders. It is a betrayal of them. It betrays them because it elevates principle so far above the possible that the end result is to make more likely the election of the candidate who is more misaligned with those very principles you espouse.

And if you think, as I’ve heard some say, that electing a terrible President is precisely the medicine the American public needs to shake them out of their acceptance of this system, then you’re a bad person and should feel bad about yourself. Elections have consequences, this one no less than any other, and perhaps more than most. President Trump’s world would be different from President Clinton’s, and those differences will have real world effects on the lives and well-being of millions of people. And whatever you think about the system or the candidates, one of the two possible candidates for President better aligns with your values than does the other. It is a moral failure to make more likely the election of the candidate who is more misaligned with your values (because by your own standards that candidate, if elected, will do more harm or less good).

All this because the real choice is binary – President Clinton or President Trump.

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5 thoughts on “Dear Supporters of Senator Sanders….

  1. The protest vote argument can only work if it is proven that voters would vote for a particular candidate if theirs did not win. However, when Nader ran in 2000, this argument falls apart because over 100,000 Florida Republicans voted for Nader. Clearly, their second choice would have been Bush, not Gore.

    Being the Sanders supporter that I am, I also did not support Gore, though I voted for Nader. I did not want Tipper Gore and her PMRC anywhere near the White House. Censorship, to me, is a great evil.

    This election, and many before it, remind me of the election in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. We’re made to believe there is a binary election, but there really isn’t one. No matter which party wins, it will be business as usual. We’re always made to fear the other party’s candidate.

    That is why I wish the presidency and all of politics had followed Washington in this matter.

    Washington had no party.

    I don’t like political parties at all for the same reason that Washington didn’t like them. Here is the quote from his farewell address.

    “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”


    • Your numbers are not even in the ballpark of correct.

      In 2000, Nader’s TOTAL votes in Florida were just under 100,000. That’s TOTAL. Of those, the breakdown, according to Nader himself, goes like this:

      “In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all.”(which would net a 13%, 12,665 votes, advantage for Gore over Bush.)”

      Gore lost by 537. You can do the math.

      • Fair enough, it has been awhile since I looked at those numbers (probably 10 years or so.) It doesn’t change my stance about Tipper Gore. And, I don’t want to play armchair politician, but it was a choice between pre 9/11 Bush and Al Gore.

        But I still maintain that no political parties would be better. And I still am thinking about this election almost exactly like the one from F451. There will really be only one choice in the end. Even republicans aren’t going for Drumpf, even though he was the best choice they had.

        I always try to explain that to my fellow lefties. Drumpf is the best choice they had. Boehner said Cruz was “Lucifer” and I believe him. Kasich wasn’t much better.

        That doesn’t mean I support Donald. In no way will I ever. In the end, I will have to vote for Hillary, because I do vote. But I am under no delusion that we will suddenly start funding NASA, science, and education more than we do the military.

        Thanks for the reply.

  2. first step to eliminating the 2 party system would be the removal of the electorial collage….which is a very archaic system…in this day and age there is absolutely no reason the popular vote cant stand on its own…not to mention the fact 4 times a presidential candidate has won the pop vote but not the electoral vote.

    “In 1824 Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but got less than 50% of the electoral votes. John Quincy Adams became the next president when he was picked by the House of Representatives.
    In 1876 Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but lost the election when Rutherford B. Hayes got 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184.
    In 1888 Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the election when Benjamin Harrison got 233 electoral votes to Cleveland’s 168.
    In 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George Bush. In the most highly contested election in modern history, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount of ballots, giving Bush the state’s 25 electoral votes for a total of 271 to Gore’s 255.”

    now im not saying any of these guys woulda been any better but the fact that the president is suppose to be voted in by the people….and then this happens….kind just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. also another bit of info which i always find fascinating about the elc colg is off this site


    lots of intresting facts…

    so to sum up elc colg IMO needs to be removed and let the
    true peoples votes count…for better or for worse

    side note: love the cale books hope to read cale and his son fighting together one day

    • I agree that the electoral college is an artifact with which we could do away, to the betterment of the process.

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