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Never Trump. Never Biden. the Progressive Case for Voting Third Party or Boycotting the Election
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Republicans will vote for President Donald Trump no matter what. Democrats will vote for Joe Biden no matter what. This column is for progressives weighing the pros and cons of succumbing to the two-party trap and voting for Biden.

Unless you’ve been sucking through a ventilator in a COVID-19 ward for the last few months, you know the argument in favor of swallowing your disappointment that neither Sens. Bernie Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren are the Democratic nominee; resisting the temptation to punish the Democratic National Committee for rigging the primaries; and forgetting Biden’s right-wing voting record, and Kamala Harris’ penchant for locking up innocent people of color and throwing away the key. It’s that Trump is a monster; his second term will bring fascism to America; Biden will be more amenable to pressure from the left than Trump.

Except for the part about Trump being a terrible human being, the call to sell out is all based on nonsense.

Reelecting Trump would send a nasty, symbolic signal to the world, but his actual presidency will almost certainly be characterized by the plagues of lame duckery. Second terms are worthless. Presidents don’t get anything done during their second term. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt floundered. Whatever you think of Trump, does this president strike you as a brilliant Machiavellian tactician who has been holding back his most extreme instincts for four years? Smarter than former Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama? Should Trump be reelected, he will almost certainly be impeached again. Allies like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will drift away. He may face prosecution.

Some progressives are vulnerable to the argument that, though far from ideal, a neoliberal warmonger like Joe Biden nevertheless represents an improvement over Donald Trump. That argument fails.

Left-of-center electoral politics in the United States is not like football, a game in which a team moves the ball down the field in incremental steps. Mainstream corporate-owned Democratic Party politics is not on the same continuum as progressivism. Neoliberalism isn’t watered-down progressivism; progressivism isn’t a more robust form of neoliberalism. They are opposing ideologies. Progressives and centrists are enemies. When neoliberal centrists achieve power, progressives find themselves in the political wilderness. Obama didn’t have a single progressive in his Cabinet. Biden doesn’t have any progressive top advisers.

Corporate Democrats ignore progressives. They crush them. Two major protest movements emerged under Obama, Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Obama deployed the surveillance state to eradicate both. Ask Julian Assange and Edward Snowden how amenable corporate Democrats like Obama are to progressive demands for change. It would be idiocy to expect anything different from Biden, who just appointed an out-of-control former prosecutor during a period of unprecedented protest against police brutality.

Would Biden be better than Trump? Only in temperament. Qualitatively, Biden presents a friendlier face for a pro-business domestic agenda that features few substantial differences with the Republicans. Under his proposed Democratic administration, we can expect to see a continuation of a text structure that favors wealthy individuals and corporations; shrinking union power and rising income inequality; a horrible for-profit health care system; and systemic police violence directed disproportionately against people of color and the poor.

Understandably, there is trepidation about the possibility of Donald Trump naming a successor to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who is ailing. Even if Democrats control the Senate after January and a President Biden pushes through a liberal — which, given his record, is unlikely — the overall balance of the court will not change. It is a conservative court, and it will remain one.

In foreign policy, there is far less cause for optimism. From Bosnia to Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Syria, Joe Biden has enthusiastically voted for and convinced his fellow legislators to support brutal foreign interventions. Though disgusting, Trump’s record is nevertheless far better than Biden’s. Trump has expanded Obama’s drone wars and supports the bloodthirsty Saudi regime in the proxy civil war in Yemen. Yet he also negotiated a deal for total U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and repeatedly expresses his willingness to negotiate with such adversaries as North Korea and Iran without pre-conditions.

Neither Trump nor Biden will do anything that progressives really care about. Neither will support the Green New Deal or, for that matter, do anything real about climate change. Neither is in favor of student loan forgiveness. Neither will take the profit incentive out of health care.

Some progressives worry about “wasting their vote” on an outfit like the Green Party. What could be more of a waste than voting for someone who is against everything you care about?

In high school civics class, they told you that a single vote can make a difference. They lied. Not in a national election. Not at the state level of a national election. In the closest battleground state of 2016, New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 2,701 votes. Sure, if you and thousands of other folks vote the same way, outcomes can change. But you have no control over other people. You have one vote. That’s all. Even if you live in Ohio, you personally can’t change anything. So live free.

On the other hand, withholding your vote from the Democratic Party can have a positive impact. Several million primary voters cast ballots for Bernie Sanders in 2016 but stayed home in the general election. Primary voters are fanatics — only 12% turnout compared with about 55% in the general election — so when they don’t show up, it’s a boycott, not apathy. After Clinton lost, party insiders concluded they would have to move left in order to motivate progressive base voters. Many contenders in the 2020 Democratic primaries espoused elements of Bernie Sanders’ platform. Without the 2016 progressive boycott, that never would have happened.

If you are trying to send a message with your vote, voting for a third party is likelier to register with analysts than staying home on Election Day.

Voting for Biden sends only one message: You approve of him and his politics. Why, after getting the milk for free, would he pay attention to any of the cow’s complaints?

• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2020 Election, Donald Trump, Joe Biden 
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  1. Rational says:


    Dinesh D’Souza’s youtube video shows how Joe Biden plagiarized campaign speeches, and lied about being in the top half of his law school, etc. He was so bad, even the left wing media declared him OVER back then, before he developed terminal dementia, which he now has.

    Please see this video, and share it with all the demograts in your family and friends, who are considering voting for this conman and fraud Biden:

    • Replies: @Chris Mallory
  2. Neither will support the Green New Deal or, for that matter, do anything real about climate change.

    That is not what one would gather from reading the following piece:

    Climate crisis or ‘hoax’: Where Trump and Biden stand on environmental policy

  3. Biden – 4 kids
    Trump – 5 kids

    Really not a choice for voters concerned about the main elephant in the room: overpopulation which neither Republicans or Democrats will ever tackle or even address. If I was an American, I wouldn’t even bother voting.

    • Replies: @SteveK9
  4. Deryut says:

    You are all delusional.

  5. I have for years contended that “not voting” is often the best option. Your failure to vote will be noticed by parties. Recall, for example, that Republicans noted Evangelicals stayed home when the Republicans nominated a Mormon, Mitt Romney, not a Christian as their candidate. Donald Trump at least pretended to be Protestant.

    Reality is that no single Presidential election will make a difference because we have a deep state and Congress that will obstruct most change.

    Actual change requires large changes in Congress, firing large numbers of permanent government employees, and drastic changes to end most Corporate participation in politics. That means in the end we need to elect people like Greens, not Republican or Democrats.

    • Replies: @General Koofta
  6. This article might make sense if there was an electoral system in place in which all the votes were counted and the one with the most votes won. That applies whether an election is via popular vote or via electoral college. Currently, the vote counts reported have no connection with actual votes cast.

  7. Great article. I would add to Obama’s crimes the murderous and amateur policies in Syria, in effect enabling ISIS and attacking Assad by arming any militia that opposed him. Trump’s major achievement was in cooperating with Putin in an ugly but effective war ending coordinated effort. Syria was spared unimaginable endless suffering by Trump ‘s 180 degree reversal of Obama madness. And bucking every warmonger from the rabid Dems to his own generals. A startling and never to be heralded piece of statesmanship and defiance of the war state no president dares take on.

    • Agree: Derer
  8. Zimriel says:

    If only police enforcement – “violence” in your cant – would fall hardest on those subpopulations enforcing reparations on the rest of us. Statistically they don’t, and that’s the problem.

    @Bras Cubas: Biden says a great many words. Not all of those words are to be taken seriously. We’ll probably get a “green” “stimulus” bill under the next Congress. Congress will not call it a “new deal”; they’ll want that meme to run on in 2022, in 2024, in… Meanwhile that green-stim will be squirted away, like ARRA 2009-10. Nobody will notice except for the taxpayer.

    As for healthcare, expect Congress to empower health-provider unions. That’ll be the core of the “saving healthcare” bill.

  9. anon[410] • Disclaimer says:

    Magisterial article from Rall. A few observations:

    1. The case for not wasting your time in the polls does not depend on the putative merits of the candidates. The electoral process is designed to thwart and infantilize the population. A voter is by definition a helpless brainwashed prole. People whose ideas of civil society begin and end with elections are politically irrelevant.

    2. The supreme court canard in support of dogshit candidates is particularly risible in the case of RBG. When Chris Hedges tried to get his NDAA cert writ, Dem icon RBG blew him off. Who took it on? Scalia, for chrissakes. All supreme court appointees are vetted by CIA. Kavanaugh got his job by giving CIA extensive deference fellatio. Kavanaugh hid evidence of CIA crime.

    Sure he’s a horny leg-humping oaf, but that’s not adverse info, that shows he’s honeytrappable for secure control.

    3. Let’s pick a dog and vote for him. Or a bitch.

    • Replies: @Derer
  10. SteveK9 says:
    @Oliver D. Smith

    ‘Overpopulation’? The 70’s are calling for their best scare back. Paul Ehrlich thanks you from the grave.

    • Disagree: RadicalCenter, Zimriel
    • Replies: @Zimriel
  11. “Some progressives are vulnerable to the argument that…”

    Can you be a “progressive” if you cannot say what you are progressing towards? Doesn’t one progress towards something? Otherwise how is it progressive? Or is a progressive someone too mealy-mouthed to say what he is progressing towards. And all the rest of us politely overlook that something slimy this way comes.

    • Agree: El Dato
    • Replies: @El Dato
  12. Based Lad says:

    Ted Rall has apparently been comatose for ~15 years and is catching up on his Atlantic/Mother Jones backlog.

  13. endthefed says:

    I’m not voting. Particularly this election, your vote won’t count. Both parties have de-legitimized the vote process and neither side is going to accept the results. It’s going to be a mish-mash of lawsuits and motions being decided by some mix of biased judges throwing away or suddenly finding batches of ballots. aka election 2000 writ large. If neither side gets the requisite electoral votes, I believe, the decision falls to the House of Reps. and half the country will not accept the results.

    The constitution more or less failed as the republic devolved into a 2 party, 0 choice system.

    • Replies: @davidgmillsatty
  14. El Dato says:
    @the cleaner

    The glorious future is totalism for the inner party and Room 101 for you.

    And locked in, forever.

    That has always been the plan.

  15. dvorak says:

    Under his proposed Democratic administration, we can expect to see a continuation of a text structure that favors wealthy individuals and corporations

    The corporate text structure has degenerated over the years, from Helvetica to Times New Roman to Arial to Microsoft’s Calibri.

    • Replies: @endthefed
    , @Derer
  16. endthefed says:

    I’m a times new roman 12 point man myself. Take that, you fontificator!

  17. There is NO Progressive case for voting for anyone except Trump, but hey, knock yourself out. Split thee progressive/leftist vote. Have fun.

  18. Jimmy Dore and other progressives are forming a “People’s Party.”

  19. A Texan says:

    Ted Rall is another moron progressive who allegedly cares about climate change, but I would guess live in a home much bigger than he really needs. Can’t he simply put a plastic sack around his head for a few minutes and save some resources for the rest of us?

    Both parties are awful for the most part, but I can’t stand the left at this point. There are too many self serving cucks in the Republican Party for anything Trump wanted to do. I guess the tax cut is a major accomplishment and no new war was begun. Trump is at times more Republican than the Republicans.

    I wish Trump could have deported the DACA human waste out of the country and all of the illegal immigrants. However, it’s been fun watching him demolish Conservative Inc. as the dipshits they are like Mustache Man for foreign policy and some of the other dopes he has degraded.

  20. @Rational

    Dinesh D’Souza is a felon immigrant who hates America and Americans. He should have been deported not pardoned. You give him views while he does every thing he can to spit on the America left to us by the Founding Fathers.

  21. TG says:

    The rational progressives are extinct, their fire has gone out of the universe. You, Ted Rall, are all that’s left of their religion.

  22. Derer says:

    The electoral process is designed to thwart and infantilize the population.

    No! The electoral process partly reduces the influence of the most populous state like California or New York. Those eccentric states do not represent American mainstream…New York vote is influenced by the (money) small minority of financial parasites and California vote is influenced by the Hollywood nest of (drugs) and salacious lifestyle – both atypical. They dominate the popular vote and that is why the electoral process partly correct this anomaly.

  23. Derer says:

    Concerning your quotation…if Biden and his “affirmative action” maid are elected one can expect American major corporation exodus.

  24. Come on, Ted. Put on the Big Boy Pants, march yourself down to your polling station (a real man would do it sans masque… just sayin’), then reach deep into your pocket and get a good grip on that Loiusville Slugger, and use your other hand to pull the lever or fill the oval for Donald J. Trump.

    We may as well make the last years of Western civilisation colourful.

  25. Bro43rd says:

    Voting- A bone that gets thrown to the electorate every couple of years. More like a stone than a bone. What a joke! Although I disagree with Ted on pretty much every issue, I thoroughly agree with his electoral analysis.

    Otoh, I will be casting my “protest” vote for the libertarian candidates Jo Jorgensen & Spike Cohen.

  26. bubbles says:

    Remember the song lyrics that run along the lines of ‘ if you don’t decide you still have made a choice’?
    I think that applies here. If we had the 3rd choice of None of the Above, and if it wins we redo, then fine, choose that, but as it is you choose b/t a semi conservative agenda that gets heavy opposition in the house, or a full out socialist agenda that tramples 1st and 2nd amendment rights with practically no opposition in a win or be eliminated game. (At least for consevatives)
    We would all like to go back in time and whisper in the founders ears as they wrote our founding documents, but we can’t; we have to move forward with poor choices, but still better than the none that socialism provides.

  27. @endthefed

    One side will get the requisite number of electoral college votes unless there is a third party candidate who gets enough votes to prevent either of the others from having a majority.

  28. @Harry Huntington

    yes, throw in term limits, no dual citizenships, no rotation into DC jobs, publicly funded elections and to save the public’s money.. no fucking television in the entire process, only print and audio! now we are talking hope and change

  29. Eighthman says:

    Thank you, Ted Rall for posting this.

    I’m simply aghast at how horrid the whole political system has become. It’s as if they were engaged in some bizarre contest to pick the worst candidates available, to test the lesser of two evils idea.

    While I can’t agree with all the sentiments here, the basics of two elderly corrupt men, who encourage militarism,lie, and molest women stand out.

    We should have compassion for China and Russia, as they may injure themselves from laughing at us.

  30. Zimriel says:

    Overpopulation of unemployable morons has several deleterious effects.
    Infrastructure can handle higher population, sure. But they are not making more water in old Garamantia (=Chad); likewise they will not be making more water in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska, either. Same goes for phosphorus (=fertiliser).
    Also, as you’ve noticed, morons vote. Sub-morons don’t, but interested parties find ways to vote for them.

  31. “…The Progressive Case for Voting Third Party or Boycotting the Election…”

    I’m convinced. I didn’t read the essay, but I didn’t need to. The headline was that effective. Let the progressive boycott commence!

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