If you are still sore from the Bernie loss, come back to this one in a few days, maybe. I’m not trying to salt the wound. This will also not be explicitly an advocacy of Biden.
Politics is a complicated game. It has multiple, simultaneous rounds across multiple fields, and the plays in one field affect other future rounds in other fields. Today’s city councilor is tomorrow’s Congresswoman. Today’s school board member is tomorrow’s state rep.
The rules of the particular form of the game in our nation also dictate different voting patterns than we’d like to believe are possible. Our limited civics education says to vote for whomever we like, whenever, even if we write them in. And we legally and morally can do just that. However, The Game, when applied to a general election of party candidates, shows that we are limited to what’s on offer from the survivor of each party’s winnowing process.
When I look at the 2020 round of the Presidential Field of The Game, there are now two choices, Biden and Trump. I could vote for others, but given that actual presidential candidates could not muster enough voters to turn the tide, I see no reason why I should assume my arbitrary alternative vote will affect anything.
This leaves me with two candidates in a zero-sum game. Most would argue I have 3 choices: Biden, Trump, or None Of The Above. For the reasons I described, NOTA can’t win on a national scale. And whoever gets more votes wins. This means that not voting for Biden is effectively the same as voting for Trump. It also means the converse: not voting for Trump is the same as voting for Biden.
It is important to note that this is not a moral argument. It could be two of the most enlightened, pleasant, and benevolent people on Earth running, and the same would be true. A vote withheld from one helps the other cross 50%. If we were playing a different game, like ranked choice voting, we could do some different strategies. But this game requires a vote, and choosing not to vote is still a vote for one choice or the other.
It is your decision whether you think that a Biden regime would engage in exactly the same behaviors as a Trump regime. That’s not an argument I’m interested in having today. It’s your decision whether you think a Democratic Congress would have better luck passing their policies with a Democratic President, and your decision whether that’s something you want to happen.
You may want to burn it all down, and that is a choice you can make, too. You can sweep the pieces off of the board and if you’re strong enough and convince enough people, declare a new game with new rules. You can focus on different fields of play where you have more influence, like local races, and create laboratories for your beliefs in your city, county, or state. But what you cannot do is change the game by sitting on the sidelines because you don’t like either candidate for one round on one field of play.
So, keep fighting for your values, whether they are represented on that one field of play or not. Get local candidates that reflect your desires elected, or be one. Join local parties and change them. The Game is far from over. Play to win.
One thought on “The Game – A Reflection on Voting”
Thanks so much for sharing this perspective and challenging thinking people to stay engaged! We all know that change is hard. However, it is possible. So, we must ask ourselves, if we are going to be a part of the difficult, persistent push for change or quit when things don’t go our way. I choose to keep pushing.