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Psst: Don’t fall for a third party (pass it on)

In the 2024 presidential election, the larger of two evils is truly evil.

Today, the 80th anniversary of D-Day, seems an appropriate occasion to reaffirm our commitment to democracy and against fascism — which means doing whatever we can to ensure that Joe Biden wins the 2024 presidential election.

One big threat to a Biden victory comes from third-party candidates Cornel West, Jill Stein, and Robert F. Kennedy Junior.

Over the last few days, I’ve had conversations with a number of friends and former students who tell me they’re considering voting for one of these third-party candidates.

Why? Some say they’re angry with Biden for giving support and weapons to Netanyahu and not doing enough to stop the slaughter in Gaza. Others say they’re upset with Biden for his new border policy, which will make it harder for immigrants to seek asylum in the U.S.

They acknowledge that a second Trump term would be a disaster, but they tell me they’re tired of voting for the “lesser of two evils.”

I tell them that in the upcoming election, the larger of two evils is truly evil.

I also tell them that if this were an ordinary election — pitting a conservative Republican against a liberal Democrat — I wouldn’t be nearly as concerned about their voting for a third-party candidate.

But the upcoming election isn’t an ordinary one. We’ve already witnessed what Trump has tried to do to remain in power. He’s an unhinged authoritarian. If he’s reelected, 2024 could mark the last democratic (small “d”) election in America.

I tell them that the practical choice is either Trump or Biden. No third-party candidate will be elected president.

America is not a parliamentary system in which third parties can become part of a governing coalition. We’re a winner-take-all system in which the leading candidate of one of our two parties will become president, even if that candidate gains only a plurality of votes.

One of my former students says she views Joe Biden and Donald Trump as morally equivalent.

I reminded her that Trump is a twice-impeached convicted felon who incited an insurrection against the United States.

Biden believes in the rule of law and the Constitution. He has made important progress on jobs and climate change. He has fought for labor rights, women’s rights, civil rights, and voting rights, and against corporate monopolies.

I also told her that Trump would be far worse than Biden at restraining Israel’s brutality in Gaza or creating a more humanitarian immigration policy.

I tell my friends and former students who are considering voting for a third-party candidate that if a third-party candidate takes even a small part of the anti-Trump vote away from Biden, especially in swing states, Trump could be returned to the White House.

But if the anti-Trump vote is unified behind Biden — especially in key Electoral College states — Trump cannot win, as Biden demonstrated in 2020.

Consider the five states most likely to decide the 2024 election in the Electoral College: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In 2016, Trump narrowly won each of them, giving him the presidency.

In 2020, these five states narrowly tipped in the other direction, giving Biden the presidency.

Biden’s razor-thin margins in these five states in 2020 came from a massive anti-Trump vote. In all of these states, at least 1 in 3 Biden voters said they voted mainly against Trump. In Wisconsin, 38 percent of Biden voters said they voted mainly against Trump. In Arizona, 45 percent of Biden voters said they voted mainly against Trump.

Biden has no margin for error. Even a small drop from his 2020 anti-Trump vote would make him vulnerable.

Just 44,000 votes out of more than 10 million cast in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin — less than half of 1 percent — made the difference between the Biden presidency and a tie in the Electoral College that would have thrown the election to the House of Representatives, and hence to Trump.

If third-party candidates peel off just 15 percent of the anti-Trump vote from Biden, and Trump’s base stays with him, Trump will win all five swing states and return to the Oval Office.

Summarizing all this, I tell my friends and former students who are wavering in their support for Biden that any vote they give to a third-party candidate — or even their failure to vote — is in effect a vote for convicted felon Trump.

And I ask them: Do they want to be even slightly responsible for Trump’s election, and what follows from it?




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