In the past, I’ve voted Independent, Libertarian, and other parties as a kind of halfhearted protest against the two-party stranglehold on state-level and national politics in our country. And for a couple of years, it seemed a few other people did too. But the movement gained no traction.
I realized eventually that one of the Big Two will still win almost every election. They’re heavily funded, and in some locations (like Oklahoma) state-mandated duopolies. So I reluctantly decided to choose between the Big Two, though I’m aware that both major parties are often funded by the same corporations and both seem to kowtow to the same big money interests.
I remember my Dad explaining to me the “lesser of two evils” theory of voting, back before I was old enough to vote. That theory basically says: “Choose the candidate that’s not quite as bad/harmful as the other one, and then live with it.”
I decided to take it one step further: Vote for the lesser of two evils in order to (eventually) defeat both of them. It works like this: if we can agree which is the lesser evil party, and vote that way long enough and consistently enough, then the other party (the greater evil) will fall apart. Hopefully, the result will be an even lesser third evil arising. Then we can vote for that one to crush the second one. And so on.
When examining the two major parties, issue by issue, topic by topic, it became clear that the Republican Party was the greater of the two evils, almost every time and on almost every question. So I won’t vote for anyone of that party again. Ever.
• They repeatedly favor the wealthy and ignore the poor. (Economic Inequality)
New Hampshire Republicans proposed a budget that cuts $240 million in spending, almost all of which will affect the poor and lower middle class. At the same time, they offered $190 million in corporate tax breaks. This is not an isolated example. In state after state, Republicans have slashed the budgets of social safety nets, public schools, state universities, and so on, while offering huge tax incentives for corporations that don’t need any help. It’s the same way at the national level.
• They still believe in the trickle-down theory of economics. (Economics)
This worn-out theory insists that cutting taxes on the very wealthy (individuals and corporations) will automatically result in (1) more jobs, (2) better jobs, (3) more benefits, and (4) a more robust economy. Year after year, however, we’ve seen that this instead only results in richer individuals and corporations at the top, while wages stagnate and benefits disappear for the middle and lower classes.
• They consistently take a reactionary stance any time a just social issue arises. (Social Issues)
Gay marriage might be the best example of this. While it’s true that neither major party had a good stance on gay marriage just a decade or two ago, neither did most Americans. Then we got better. We realized collectively that gay people are people too and deserved the same rights as the rest of us. After a few years, the DNC got on board. The Republicans could have easily done it too, but instead made a conscious decision to fight it tooth and nail.
The exact same thing happens on every social issue I can think of. If the cause du jour is “the poor are getting poorer; we should help them”, then the RNC will come out strongly against that. If it’s working toward racial equality, they whisper together and then stand up to say: “We’re against that too!” If it’s tolerance toward another belief system, they know how easy it would be to say, “Sure, build your mosque here on this empty lot”, but they simply cannot find it in their hearts to do it, and instead protest it aggressively every step of the way. This religious issue brings me to my next point.
• They keep ignoring the secular foundation of our nation. (Type Of Government)
Seriously, if one party doesn’t even know what kind of government ours is, why are they even taken seriously by anyone?
Despite every historical fact to the contrary, conservative Republicans want to insist that “this is a Christian nation and we need to start acting like it”. This is so far from the foundation of our country as to be laughable, but instead it’s scary because they’ve convinced millions that it’s true. Some candidates actively work toward a theocracy, wanting to ban non-Christians from public office, with especial hatred toward atheists and Muslims. Religion has squat to do with governance. “In God We Trust” wasn’t on our money until the 1950s. “Under God” wasn’t in our pledge until the 1950s. Before that, it was e pluribus unum (out of many, one) and “one nation, indivisible”. Instead of wanting to be indivisible, or drawing the many together as one, they want to divide us into smaller groups and then demonize the minority belief systems until they disappear. Here in Texas, local governments, run by Republicans, are increasingly using taxpayer funds to put religious slogans on government owned vehicles and property.
• They keep pretending science is optional. (Science And Research, Climate Change)
I’ve written about this before, in greater detail. Huge numbers of Republicans deny science on many topics, and pander to science deniers on other topics. They don’t all agree on which scientific knowledge to disagree with, but almost all of them pretend to deny some part of science. Whether it’s climate change, evolution, the age of the Earth, or saving children from faith-healers, they just won’t listen.
If they truly believed the science was wrong on these issues, they would approve more funding for scientific research, so we could eventually get it right. Instead, they’re consistent about wanting to cut funding for scientific research, which is the opposite of the smart thing to do.
• They’re war-mongers. (Foreign Policy)
Yes, Democrats voted on the Iraq War too, and yes, some wars are justified. But there is a clear difference of opinion between the two parties on this one. With the exception of Rand Paul, every one of the 17 RNC candidates for president advocated more war than what we have now — all while claiming to want less government spending and lower taxes, and while knowing that war is the most expensive thing we do. The visibility of excesses in the Vietnam War turned Americans’ hearts toward pacifism like nothing before, and there’s no going back for most of us. The knowledge that we’re currently the most war-going nation on Earth is unsettling to many of us too. Yet Republicans keep calling for “carpet bombing” of civilians, and have advocated that we “bomb them back to the stone age”, knowing that bringing them out of the stone age would work much better for everyone — and it would require less money. This says nothing of the thousands of Iraq War veterans who daily suffer with PTSD or grievous physical injuries, some of whom we’re sending back out on 6th or 8th deployments. And just to add insult to injury, they vote against bills that would help those same veterans.
• They Oppose Women’s Rights. (Gender Equality)
Several times in the past few years, both nationally and at in various states, bills arose that would ensure women get equal pay for doing the same jobs as men. In every instance these bills didn’t make it, the bills were supported by Democrats and defeated by Republicans (example from Texas). Even when such a bill succeeded in U.S. Congress, it was opposed by (primarily) Republicans.
• A Few Other Topics.
Despite common knowledge that marijuana is no more harmful than tobacco, and less harmful than alcohol, Republicans are more vociferously in support of continuing to spend millions of dollars locking up people for carrying tiny amounts of it. Any time a consumer protection bill is announced or proposed, Republicans are the ones against it. If education funding is cut, it’s almost always done by Republicans. When the EPA announces new pollution controls, Republicans oppose that too. They’re in favor of “abstinence only” sex education, which has been shown repeatedly to not work, resulting in higher rates of teen pregnancy.
• But, But, The Democrats Too!
Here, it’s tempting to argue that the Democratic Party has problems too. They raise taxes, darn it. They don’t care about the national debt. They want everyone to abort everyone’s babies and get gay married while taking away your guns and forcing you to eat healthier foods.
But go back to the beginning and notice my premise. I don’t like either party, and want both of them to go away. The trick was deciding which party needed to go first. Yes, corporations own both parties, and yes, both often practice the same kinds of shenanigans that often turn into crises. And fixing those crises often distracts from very real problems we could be fixing. Yes, there are science-denying dingdongs who vote Democrat too.
The trick was figuring out which one was worse, not with the intention of building up the slightly better one, but in the hope that the worse one crumbles and splinters as soon as possible. Even before the shadows of the RNC disappear from the national psyche, we can start building the third-least evil party and then vote for it to crush the DNC too.
In so many ways, the Democrats are demonstrably better. Let’s take racial equality as an example. Step one: there’s an incident that raises the ire of a minority group. Step two: the minority group protests, trying to find some way to get its voice heard. Step three: Republicans try to find an outlier member of that group to say publicly that things aren’t as bad as they seem — “business as usual is okay”, that person will say, and conservatives smile and nod. Step four: Democrats listen to the concerns of the minority group and and try to find a way to solve the issue.
Almost every problem I could think of that the Democrats have is one that the Republicans have too, only worse.
• It Won’t Work
Of course, it won’t work. Too many people are still voting for the greater of two evils. But I won’t be a part of that anymore. Here in Texas, there are often elections with no Democrat on the ballot. For those, I’ll vote independent, Green, or anything to the left of the RNC. In the cases when it’s an unopposed Republican, then he or she can win without my vote.
Crazy idea, I know.