The 2020 Democratic primary was arguably one of the more, if not most exciting primaries in the past 20 years for president. I would put it up there with Obama vs. Hilary in 08’ and the 2016 Republican primary with Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Jeb all squaring up for the nomination. At the beginning of the primary process, dozens of candidates began to emerge from the woodwork all with the same message: “Here is my plan to defeat Donald Trump.” The field seemed to be endless, with everybody seeming to believe that they had what it took to slay the dragon. Then came the Iowa caucus, where the least diverse state in the union with the worst possible election process sets the tone for the next 4 months of primaries. After a grueling few days with lots of technological issues, Senator Bernie Sanders and mayor of Southbend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg were our front runners. It seemed that with the field split between two progressives (Warren, Sanders), three moderates (Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Biden), some golden wildcards (Yang, Gabbard) and two billionaires that had gotten lost and wandered onto the stage (Bloomberg, Styer), Bernie was going to be our guy. Then came South Carolina, where Biden won and threw the whole race on its head. Suddenly, your favorite flavor of moderate had dropped out before Super Tuesday and it was Biden’s race to lose. As they say, the rest is history. So here we are, a few months before November, with an election that will no doubt be riddled with voter suppression and overall shadiness with Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for president. Okay, got it, what do we do now?
I will be the first to admit that Joe Biden is not my favorite candidate. Between the cringe-inducing sound bytes, suppressed rape allegations, and overall lack of ingenuity in his policy, Joe was far from my first choice. When it came down to it on election day, I took a deep breath and bubbled in Biden on my ballot, because as much as I disliked Biden, I disliked Bernie a hell of a lot more. But why does it have to be this way? Why is it that in the first two elections I vote in, I will have to choose the lesser of two evils? Well, the answer lies in the fundamentally flawed system that we have chosen to elect our chief executive.
America lives by the “First Past the Post” system and we use it for everything. If you do not know what that means, it is when the candidate with the most votes wins; no matter how many candidates there are or how small of a margin it is by, the winner takes all. In this system, the voter is forced to vote for the candidate that is closest to their beliefs with the best chance of winning to see their vote have any impact. In an election between Mr. Frog, Mr. Lizard, and Mr. Snake for reptile king, I, a frog, would end up voting for Mr. Lizard; even though my beliefs line up more with Mr. Frog, I cannot let Mr. Snake win, and Mr. Lizard is polling much better against Mr. Snake than Mr. Frog is. Forcing voters to compromise is not the way that we should be doing things and it is not an efficient way to choose a leader. Believe it or not, there are better ways to do it.
In a parliament like Israel, voters choose parties, not people, and it is the parties that create coalitions and choose a leader. Given a low enough electoral threshold (the number of votes a party needs to get one seat), this system can ensure that each person can put their vote towards a platform they believe in. The problem that Israel has recently had with elections, in my opinion, is that the electoral threshold has been raised too high, making it closer to the crooked system we have in the US. In France, they have two rounds of elections when they go to choose their president, where if no candidate receives a majority in the first round, the top two contenders go into a runoff for the seat. Both of these systems are far from perfect, but they at least let the voter have a voice, no matter how far away they are from the center.
A point about the Electoral College: While I understand that the system is intended to give more voice to less populated areas, the winner-takes-all part of the Electoral College is what creates such ridiculous inequities. I am all for giving less populated states more electoral votes per person to elevate their voice, but we should be dividing the electoral vote in each state by its popular vote. In a historically blue state like Illinois, Trump supporters have little reason to go to the polls other than to prove a point. Under my proposition, if Trump wins 25% of the vote in Illinois he should get 5 of the 20 electoral votes. This would mean that candidates would have to focus on the whole country, not just swing states, and it would give incentive for all people to exercise their democratic liberties.
It is time that we sit down our elected officials and choose a new way to elect a president, because with the system we have now, millions of voters are getting left behind. So, when it comes down to it, if you consider yourself a progressive, you are just going to have to suck it up and vote for Joe Biden.
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