Vote your conscience

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Everyone says voting is important. I agree. We have an election in four days, and it’s an important one. All over the country, Republicans who deny the results of the 2020 Presidential Election and insist that President Joe Biden stole it from former president Donald Trump are at a serious risk of taking hundreds of important offices.  

Every election cycle, those who pay attention to this are inevitably drawn to the discourse of “Vote Blue No Matter Who,” (VBNMW) or the idea that progressives, liberals and socialists have a moral obligation to vote for any Democratic party candidate.  

While I generally agree that Democrats are better than Republicans, Democrats are also a pretty bad party. They are run by selfish, incompetent and out of touch leaders, who repeatedly insult their young voters and then demand their loyalty. They don’t fight for winning issues that matter to most voters and it’s clear that they don’t care about those issues.  

Instead of fighting for marginalized communities and young people, whose votes they need to win, Democrats are insulting their base and trying to chase out and shun popular elected officials. For example, when young climate activists with the Sunrise Movement came to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)’s office to plead with her to support the vision of the Green New Deal (a transformative climate plan proposed by climate activists), she argued with them and spoke in a condescending manner. Democratic leadership figures also regularly insult and undermine progressive politicians, such as the Democratic party staffer that equated Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) with a “Goomba” doll.  

Besides, centrist Democrats don’t follow VBNMW when it’s a progressive who succeeds in a Democratic primary. In Nebraska’s swingy, Omaha-based 2nd Congressional district in 2018, progressive candidate Kara Eastman defeated former Representative Brad Ashford (D-NE), who unfortunately died in April, in a close Democratic primary. The Democratic Party was slow to mobilize resources to defeat Representative Don Bacon (R-NE) in that cycle, and Eastman was often left out to dry. Then, Eastman defeated Ashford’s wife, Ann, in the 2020 primary. Ann Ashford refused to endorse her opponent, while Brad Ashford actually crossed party lines to endorse Bacon. Bacon and Biden won the 2nd District. In 2021, DSA member India Walton defeated Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown in his primary. He immediately launched a write-in campaign against her. When the centrist chair of the New York State Democratic Party was asked about supporting Walton, Jacobs insisted that he did not need to simply because she is a Democrat, and even compared her to David Duke.  

Also, when Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was performing well in the 2020 Democratic Presidential primary, many centrist Democrats implied that they wouldn’t vote for him, even as they insisted that his supporters unite behind the eventual nominee. MSNBC contributor Donny Deutsch even suggested he’d vote for Trump over Sanders. In New York, when Ocasio-Cortez defeated former Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY), he stayed on the ballot against her in the general election, and when Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) defeated former Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) he did not issue a statement until his last day in office, more than six months following his defeat. He never congratulated Bowman and even endorsed his primary challenger in 2022.  

Surprisingly, I actually think it’s completely fine for establishment Democrats to not support progressives. But VBNMW needs to be applied consistently or it needs to be done away with (it needs to be done away with).  

All this being said, in a swing state, I’d vote for the Democrat without thinking about it, for the most part. In Seattle, I live in deep blue districts, and if I don’t like my local Democrat, I don’t have to vote for them. I chose not to vote for my Representative, Adam Smith (D-WA), who represents an extremely blue seat in Seattle, but I did choose to vote for my Senator, Patty Murray (D-WA), because the state of Washington at-large is less solidly blue than my congressional district. I would recommend voting for Mandela Barnes, Tim Ryan, John Fetterman and other Democrats running in swing seats across the country, even if those candidates are not to your liking. However, in the case of New York’s 10th district, based in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, I would not vote for Democratic nominee Dan Goldman, who is extremely conservative relative to his district and has signaled that he has inconsistent stances on reproductive freedom. If a progressive third-party candidate ran here, they would likely overperform the Republican.  

At the end of the day though, you should vote for whoever you want. You can always Vote Blue No Matter Who, or you can never vote blue and only vote for a third party. You can write in your preferred candidate in the primary, you can write in expletives, you can vote for the Mucinex Man or Vice President for Student Life Chris Clarke, if you really want to. You don’t even have to vote (but you should). Voting is a tool that we can use to force change, but it is not the only one, and it’s not the most effective one. Vote your conscience, and let others do the same.