Political Purity at The Ballot Box Will Be Counterproductive and is Immoral 

Joe Biden will likely be the Democrat Party’s Presidential nominee. His success in dethroning Mr. Trump will largely depend on the Democrat Party’s ability to ensure that a substantial fraction of the various anti-Trump constituencies cast a ballot on November 3rd.

In this regard, there is reason for concern as some of Senator Sanders’ supporters believe that it is morally preferable to not vote for Mr. Biden, as manifest by the #NeverBiden hashtag and elsewhere.

Before the #NeverBiden voters become irrevocably committed to the “Bernie or bust” proposition, they should be reminded of what happened in the 2000 Presidential election when the candidates on the Florida ballot were Al Gore (Democrat), George W Bush (Republican) and Ralph Nader (Green Party).  

Believing his candidacy was derived from a superior moral plane, Ralph Nader failed to withdraw his candidacy in the state of Florida despite his awareness that his candidacy would disproportionately, adversely impact Al Gore. 

Per Wikipedia… In the 2000 presidential election in Florida, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes. … Nader, both in his book Crashing the Party and on his website, states: “In the year 2000, exit polls reported that …. 38% [of my voters] would have voted for Gore [if Nader was not on the ballot] …which would net … 12,665 votes, advantage for Gore over Bush.”

Because of his obeisance to “political purity,” Mr. Nader was singularly responsible for putting George W Bush into the White House, who then implemented policies that were antithetical to Mr. Nader’s values including the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, a very conservative Supreme Court (Justice Alito), the Great Recession, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal warrantless surveillance of electronic communications, the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, Guantanamo Bay, etc.

And Trump makes George W. Bush look like a Boy Scout.

While “political purity” may be appropriate when blogging and in academia, it can be counterproductive when applied at the ballot box. 

Even Bernie Sanders recognized this when he said If we do not win, I will strongly support the Democratic nominee… Donald Trump must be defeated”

Sitting out the election because you despise the Democrat alternative to Trump will guarantee Trump’s victory. While this decision may make you feel better, as you reassure yourself that you “stayed true to your principles,” it will also ensured that future generations will never have an opportunity to create an America that works for all Americans, as a re-elected President Trump will surely advance policies which are antithetical to your values. Thus choosing to “not vote” is an immoral choice.

Of course you could argue, “my vote is only one vote.” Unfortunately, our political system is so finely polarized that some elections have been decided by one vote or even end up as a tie. So yes, your one vote does count. And your one “non-vote” also counts. 

While I too do not like the fact that America is not an egalitarian society, I understand that politics is not simply about “what I want.” An effective politician will recognize what is politically possible, and sometimes small, incremental steps up-hill is a more effective strategy than to cede the political field to your opponent and allow them to roll the ball down hill. 

I am also aware that since 1985, twenty-five former democracies  are now authoritarian societies in which the rights of minorities are ignored, and worse. The authoritarian leaders of these former democracies have alter the laws in their countries to ensured that democracy will not return to their country in the near future. Those who believe that this cannot happen in America are not seeing our true political reality. We must do everything in our power to ensure that Trump is overwhelmingly voted out of office so that America does not follow the same path as those former democracies.

Invoking “political purity” as a reason to “not vote” is an immoral choice that can only ensure the institutionalization of values you abhor and may be the final nail into democracy’s coffin. Your only moral option is to vote for Mr. Biden on  November 3, 2020.

The first priority for all democracy loving Americans has to be to defeat Trump, so future generations of Americans will at least have the opportunity to create a more egalitarian and equitable society. 

The alternative time-line is too horrible to imagine.

Hayward Zwerling, M.D.


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