Why I cannot afford to vote third party

Brandon Flanery

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In the 2016 election I voted third party. This year, I have come to realize that I cannot afford that luxury.  

     When I lived in Germany, I came to love the balance and diversity that a political system can offer when more than two parties have equal opportunity. Instead of this back and forth between two extreme parties, there is this tighter tension between many perspectives. Think of that colorful parachute thing you pulled on as a kindergartener. (Do we still do that or am I showing my age?) 

     My idealism would fight for this reality by continually voting third party to protest this bi-partisan government. 

     That was a mistake. 

     While I still believe that we need more than two parties, I cannot afford to be idealistic. I must be pragmatic for my rights as a queer person. 

     Before I get going, my adversaries, like those with the #WalkAway movement, will say, “Trump is for LGBTQ+ people far more than the Democrats.” They will say he’s put an openly gay man in his administration. They’ll say he’s talked about how he likes gay people and “has no problem with them.” But actions speak louder than words, and so do party platforms.  

     First and foremost, the GOP platform explicitly talks about how they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and they aim to undo the ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges.  

     In their 2016 platform (which they have adopted for their 2020 platform), they say, “Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman … We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor … We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.” 

     For those that think this is simple politics to rally traditionalist voters, for those that think this has no real-world consequences, I will point to a statement made by Justice Clarence Thomas, on Oct. 5, 2020.  

     “By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment … the Court has created a problem that only it can fix. Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty.’” 

     In 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges was ruled with a vote of five to four. Now, President Trump has nominated a woman who continues to use the rhetoric of “sexual preference” (as if my sexual identity can be compared to my preference for rare meat over well-done) in her confirmation hearing. 

     Listen here, Amy Coney Barrett, I would much rather prefer to have a supportive family, a wedding all my friends would go to and the ability to make my own babies. But here we are, and I’d like to not die alone. 

     Arguably the starkest oppression of this administration over LGBTQ people is Trump’s ban of trans people from the military. 

Ballot box on campus, located in front of the University Center.
Photo by Lauren Rock.

     In 2017, President Trump issued a formal memorandum and directed Secretary of Defense to block trans people from enlisting in the military, which took effect in April 2019. 

     How can I vote for a man that has run on a platform against my love? How can I vote for a man that nominates people who hope to make it illegal for me to marry someone? How can I vote for a man that refuses to admit my queer siblings into the military? 

     The answer is, I can’t. For me, as a queer person, Trump must not remain my president. It’s not an option for me. And when I vote, it will not be a vote for Biden, but a vote to get Trump out.  

     I don’t think Biden is a great candidate, and I would have voted with joy for literally any of the other primary Democratic presidential candidates. But we got Biden. When I vote for him, it will be a vote against Trump.  

     Against my idealism, against my belief that we should have more parties, against my belief that Biden is not that great of a human or a leader, I voted for him. I voted pragmatically. Because in a world that is against who I am as a person, I cannot afford idealism. It must die for a cruder instrument—pragmatism. 

     Maybe this is why we are stuck in a two-party system? Because people are scared: scared into pragmatism and scared into voting for a candidate that we don’t believe in.