By Lilly Price | Reporter
In the midst of everything going on in our world, the COVID-19 outbreak, widespread shelter-in-place orders, and a giant disruption of everyday life, it can be easy to forget that later this year we’ll be voting in the 2020 presidential election. While the overwhelming nature of our current lives can make it difficult to look ahead, it’s extremely important to pay attention to this election, as the president chosen will be responsible for the next four years, a time which will likely hold economic struggle for many Americans following the setbacks the virus has presented for business and commerce.
As it draws closer and closer to November, it’s time to start looking at the candidates and their platforms seriously, and making informed decisions as voters. And as Bernie Sanders ended his campaign this week, Joe Biden will be representing the Democratic Party. For the Republicans, it will be incumbent Donald Trump. As the contenders pan out, many Americans have expressed disappointment at their options.
Many young progressives are uninterested in giving the former VP their vote, and for Republicans, Trump’s presidency has been marked by a lack of significant legislation, an impeachment scandal, and countless offensive statements about race, gender, nationality, and socioeconomic status. On both sides of the aisle, there is a general feeling that surely we can do better.
As a great dialogue came out in 2016 regarding the choice between “two evils” in regards to Hillary Clinton and Trump, I fear that a similar one will resurface in this 2020 election. This sentiment, that both options are terrible and we must therefore choose the slightly less terrible option seems blatantly counter intuitive to the whole point of democracy. It presents Americans as hopeless partners stuck in a loveless marriage, of people who have no control or agency over their civic lives.
And to some degree, the amount of influence that the American public has over the election of their representatives is quite small. In fact, Trump lost the popular vote in the 2016 election by the greatest margin than any other president in history. But it was the electoral college that saved him. Despite these holes in the voting process, the popular vote is still an important part of choosing representatives and one that deserves consideration from the populace.
With that said, the dialogue around hopelessness in voting needs to end. Because Joe Biden and Donald Trump are not the only contenders for the presidential election. In fact, third party candidates exist to help balance the two biggest parties. Campaigners from both the Green Party and Libertarian Party have begun their bids for the 2020 election. The Green Party, which began in the 1980s, focuses on social justice and ecology. It’s platform is socialist, with a large emphasis on combating climate change and improving the environment. Although the Green Party won’t select their presidential nominee until July of this year, a few frontrunners have emerged, including Howie Hawkins, who claims to have created the Green New Deal, a climate change proposal that has gained popularity among Democrats. The Libertarian Party, which emphasizes limited government and economic policies with broad social freedoms, is scheduled to select its nominee at the end of May, but recent coronavirus restrictions may upset plans.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to not allow third party candidates to be overshadowed by current events. COVID-19 may disrupt these smaller parties’ abilities to collect ballot signatures, which is required from third parties to participate in the presidential election. Because of this, Americans need to be aware of what is being communicated from third party candidates, so that they might have an opportunity to represent voters who feel stuck between a rock and a hard place with the Democratic and Republican candidates. The American people should never be forced to choose between “the lesser of two evils.” We all have a choice, and for some, that choice will be voting third party.