In favor of voting third party: a post-Bernie manifesto

Since Bernie has left the race, I’ve participated in a lot of discourse with other disappointed liberals and leftists, many of whom are planning to stay home from voting in the 2020 general presidential election due to the inadequacy of the candidates. I would urge everyone to, at least, vote for House and Senate seats and your state’s ballot measures, even if you must leave your presidential selection blank. I, too, am utterly disgusted in the options voters have been given by the United States’ two major political parties, which is why, since losing Bernie, I have been considering voting third party. My reasoning is as follows.

If you supported Bernie, our current political systems will not facilitate the kind of revolution you want. The Democratic National Committee has never and most likely will never support a socialist or a “democratic socialist.” They are a group of democrats – of centrists – who represent far too many progressives. One could argue that, by voting for the candidate they have handed us, we are permitting them to continue to confine us to likely criminal centrists. I don’t think we have to put up with that.  By re-registering as third party (even if the third-party candidates are unlikely to get enough momentum during this election to win), it is possible to send a message to the DNC that they are losing support by nominating subpar, inadequate candidates such as Joe Biden. On the whole, good people do not make it on the presidential ticket,Democratic or Republican, and that needs to change. This is why the counterargument that a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump is short-sighted.

The only way to vote for Trump is to vote for Trump. If someone is choosing not to vote for Biden or Trump because they cannot morally bring themselves to vote for either, that is far from a vote in support of Trump. Quite literally, not voting for either nominee is not voting for Trump and not voting for Biden. 

This idea can be harmful. The claim that not voting for the Democratic nominee is effectively the same as voting for the Republican one passively accepts the completely undemocratic two-party system that denies voters a true choice. While it is evident that American politics are dominated by a bipartisan system, this is only true because voters decide again and again that this is how it has to be by discouraging voting outside of these two parties. The political systems under which we are asked to vote do very little to represent the broad views of all Americans, as reflected in the huge policy differences between the most supported Democratic candidates in 2020: Sanders and Biden. This one-or-the-other argument between Biden and Trump perpetuates the divisive two-party system and ultimately prevents progressive change. Discounting minor parties is what keeps us choosing between the lesser of two evils (or, in this case, two assailants). 

I see this claim as following directly from the electability-concerned Democrats that aligned more with Sanders during the primaries, but publicly supported Biden because they perceived him as having a better shot at beating Trump. Voting based on who you assume can beat the “other team” does nothing to advance your own political views and, in fact, serves to erase your own voice. Not to mention, voting based on this strategy clearly did not work in the 2016 election, and refusing to nominate the “riskier” candidate is potentially what cost the Democrats the election. Stop voting to win a game and start voting for what you politically and morally agree with. This is the most likely way to create change in the systems that continue to produce incompetent presidential candidates.  If you have read and agree with Biden’s policies and would like to see him as president, vote for him. If you don’t and you are feeling unrepresented by the DNC, below are some alternative candidates to compare your values with and to consider.


Third-party candidates for post-Bernie supporters

Gloria La Riva
Nominee from the Party for Socialism & Liberation and the Peace and Freedom Party 

Gloria La Riva is a socialist activist from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is first and foremost a vocal activist for bettering the lives of minorities; she can be found at rallies and protests across the nation, although she is currently based in San Francisco, California. She has spoken at marches for immigrant rights, helped organize a movement of Black San Franciscan firefighters against racist and sexist policies in the workplace, has participated in many LGBTQ+ marches and was an adamant adversary of Prop 8 (a California proposition created by opponents of same-sex marriage), and can be found on the picket lines defending women’s reproductive health clinics. She has held leadership positions in the Workers World Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Peace and Freedom party. She is the nominee for the Party for Socialism and Liberation in the 2020 presidential election and won the Peace and Freedom Party’s primary, over Howie Hawkins (Green Party candidate discussed below). Her running mate (vice-presidential candidate) is Leonard Peltier, an American indigenous rights activist.

La Riva’s policies follow a 10-point socialist campaign program that emphasizes the importance of human rights, climate change, ending racism, and ending wars. She is more focused on Native rights and mass incarceration than most mainstream candidates and holds different ideals than Democratic candidates on issues regarding gun control. Her major platform ideas include the following:

  • Racial issues: Pay reparations to Black and Native communities. End mass incarceration of oppressed and working-class people. Prosecute all acts of police brutality. Free all political prisoners. 
  • Climate change: Re-organize under socialism to slow climate change and assure the future for the planet. Seize coal and fossil fuel companies. Stop the destruction of Native lands.
  • Healthcare: Create a completely free and public healthcare system and make healthcare a constitutional right.
  • Workers’ rights: Make jobs/income a constitutional right and support the rights of all workers to join unions. Rebuild a fighting labor movement.
  • Immigration: Abolish ICE and all anti-immigration laws. Amnesty and citizenship for the undocumented. Dismantle the border wall.
  • Guns: Defend rights to self-determination and self-defense for oppressed peoples. Demilitarize the police and the state. Get gun money out of politics and ban marketing of firearms. Require proof of training in gun safety (not mental health checks as they are believed to deepen discrimination). Use socialism to end the systems that fuel violence. 
  • Foreign policy: Use the military budget to provide for human necessities. Abolish nuclear weapons. Right of return for Palestinians. End U.S blockades. Independence and cancellation of debt for Puerto Rico.
  • Women’s & LGBTQ rights: Pro-choice. Close the wage gap and end the gender division of labor. Employment, housing, healthcare, and educational equality for members of the LGBTQ community. Reject religious exemption laws that permit discrimination.
  • Education: Make education free and cancel all student debt. 
  • Housing: Make housing a human right and end all foreclosures and evictions.
  • Big money: Seize the assets of billionaires and redistribute the resources to the majority. Jail wall street criminals.

Learn more at: https://www.larivapeltier2020.org/

To join the Party for Socialism and Liberation online, speak to a PSL representative, or get involved in their organized revolution:https://www.pslweb.org/join

Howie Hawkins
Nominee from the Green Party

Howie Hawkins was born in and raised near San Francisco, California, and became a political activist at age 12, angered by the denial of democratic recognition of a minor, multiracial party: Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. He was the first U.S candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010. He is running for president in 2020 as the Green Party nominee to build the party’s momentum against the two-party system and to introduce their eco-socialist ideas to the public.

Hawkins’s platform is mostly focused on the ideas of the Green New Deal and eco-socialism. Eco-socialism is the idea that climate change cannot be mitigated under capitalism. His eco-socialist Green New Deal begins with a bill of rights for citizens including an employment guarantee, a basic income guarantee, a national health service, and free public education, and then moves onto environmental changes in energy, transportation, and agriculture. His most nuanced ideas fall under the categories of racial issues (police control), education (media reform), and healthcare. His ideas are complex; the following is only a breakdown. His major platform ideas include the following:

  • Racial issues: Economically empower oppressed communities. Consider reparations for African Americans. Disband the hierarchies of capitalism that keep oppression sustained. Create a police force that is community-controlled through elected neighborhood review boards (a Black Panther model).
  • Climate change: Move towards 100% clean energy. Implement a progressive carbon tax and a land value tax. Reconstruction of the agricultural system. Nationalize big oil and gas companies. Build an interstate high-speed rail system.
  • Healthcare: Create a community-controlled national health service. Make the clinics and hospitals publicly owned and governed by a federation of locally-elected boards. Provide secure retirement to all citizens.
  • Worker’s rights: Guarantee jobs and an income above poverty. Guarantee housing and universal rent control. 
  • Immigration: Open borders. Legalize undocumented citizens and speed the path to citizenship. Abolish ICE and CBP (Customs and Border Control) and replace with an open borders-based administration.
  • Guns: Convert arms companies to non-profit public enterprises.
  • Foreign policy: Implement deep U.S military spending cuts and reinvest the money into clean energy. Recommit to nuclear disarmament. 
  • Women’s & LGBTQ rights: Employment equality for members of the LGBTQ community. Separate social and economic benefits from marriage. Confront violence against transgender people.
  • Education: Free public education from pre-k child care through college. Establish a public wifi, phone, and TV service at lower costs with net neutrality. Reform and control media outlets based on a decentralized, democratic system of public funding, making media sources non-profit and de-commercialized. Re-establish media diversity and break up media monopolies.
  • Housing: Support homes for all in walkable communities.
  • Big money: Socialize the big banks. Do not allow the banks to create money for loans. Nationalize big oil and gas companies.

Learn more at: https://howiehawkins.us/perspectives-and-policies/

Find out more about registering Green here: https://www.gp.org/register


I encourage you to reach out to your representatives about structural alternatives and democracy reform including: implementing a national voting day to reduce voter suppression, instant-runoff voting or ranked-choice voting, abolishing the electoral college, and/or abolishing the U.S Senate. Pay attention to which politicians are funded by the public versus funded by the richest in their parties. Research other ideas for creating a more just system that would not pump out candidates like Joe Biden and stay politically active on social media while in quarantine. Vote in the general election, even if it’s only for seats and ballot measures.