Let me first start off by saying that no politician is entitled to a single vote, and that I support a wide range of candidates in any election.
But if you are a progressive candidate who knows they aren’t going to win, and there’s another progressive candidate who shares 90% of your platform, all you’re doing is hurting the progressive cause.
Moving to ranked-choice voting will eliminate the problem of “spoiler candidates”. But until that happens, progressive candidates must confront the reality that we have winner-take-all systems of voting.
Take the recent French election. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leading progressive candidate, came within just 1.2% of advancing to the second round. Nevertheless, there were no fewer than 6 other progressive candidates, none of which polled higher than 5%. Had the 6 candidates cloistered behind Mélenchon, Mélenchon would have advanced and locked far-right Marine Le Pen out of any chance to win.
Hell, just the French Green Party endorsing Mélenchon would have been enough. Mélenchon has spoken in support of environmental investments across France and a transition away from carbon-based consumption. That sounds pretty green to me!
Had the Greens endorsed Mélenchon, they may have gotten a governmental position in Mélenchon’s government. But instead, they got jack shit and allowed Marine Le Pen to face Macron.
But hey, I get it. Fortune, fame, popularity, paparazzi, that’s all more important than actually repping your “ideology”.
In America, there was a Texas primary in March where a prominent progressive, Jessica Cisneros, almost unseated one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in the country. However, there was a third candidate, Tannya Benavides, with essentially the same platform as Cisneros.
A poll was done; Benavides came in at 7%. She raised $32,000; the other 2 raised over $2.5 million each. Benavides isn’t winning. Nevertheless, she took just enough votes from Cisneros to prevent her from unseating this conservative Democrat.
And of course… the biggest one of them all. After refusing to endorse progressive icon Bernie Sanders in 2016, Elizabeth Warren ran in 2020, splitting the progressive vote with Sanders and letting moderate Joe Biden win the nomination.
She failed to win a single contest, including in her own state, and got 1.5% of the delegates. Then, after compromising her values in order to become Biden’s VP, she gets snubbed. Then, Biden doesn’t nominate Warren to any position in his cabinet.
You could have been Bernie Sanders’s VP or in his administration. Instead you effectively prevented one of the most serious progressive candidates in American history from becoming president and let Joe Biden, the man you sparred with for most of your career, to get the job instead. In return, you got squat. Congratulations.
None of these candidates are perfect. I’m not saying they’re not responsible for their own losses. And if you’re a progressive candidate who’s not the favorite to win, you have a right to take part in your election. No one’s entitled to your vote.
But until we get ranked-choice voting in our country, I expect you to drop out and support the leading progressive in your race. I am sick and tired of “progressive” candidates putting their own clout and ego above the movement. Rant over.
Image courtesy of Kevin Dietsch, Getty Images.