On the Premise that Not Voting for Candidate C Means Voting for Candidate T

A little election math.

Let’s say that we have two numerical unknown factors out of a larger body. We’ll keep this simple. Let’s call them T and C. Now, T and C are at-play in every state in the Union, and then a few other districts. In each state, then, the amount of representation will be figured by who gets the simple majority of votes. Let’s make a hypothetical state, then and call it Ø. To win that state To needs to have more votes than Co.

To > Co.

It could be one vote or it could be three million votes, the total number of eligible voters that o offers. Does that mean that 3,000,000 people will vote altogether? No, because of disinterest and disenfranchisement and dirty tricks with voter rolls, etc, it’s much more likely that 1,750,000 people will be voting.

But T and C are unknown variables at this point, and for the sake of math, it doesn’t matter if the numbers are 145,369; 7,738; 12,542; 89,076; or 77. The principal is the same. But let’s see how the scenario in question is patronizingly explained to us.

if you don’t vote for C, you give a vote to T.

This relies of two misleads – a false assumption (more on this later) and really, really bad math.

Let’s start under the premise that the assumption is correct. You are a person who was going to vote for C but you end up not doing so. The equation looks like this:

C-1; T

Notice here that the removal of the number from the C column does not translate to an addition to the T column. That would only happen if this alleged person actually casts a vote for T, but otherwise removing (again, assumption) from C’s column does not strengthen T, except inasmuch as it may weaken C’s. This will be true no matter how many times this is replicated (let’s call this factor B[1]). Of course, this is where it gets tricky but it is also where we talk about this false assumption.

      B was never a guaranteed factor within C.

The simple truth is, no votes are owed to either C or T. Even among their bases and most fervent supporters, any number of things could happen and remove their vote (sickness, emptying of voter rolls, ID laws, late polling openings and early polling closings, absentmindedness, tampering, etc). While many of these are or should be illegal, it only serves a point that no vote is guaranteed (politicians are well aware of this and why incumbents have backup plans for their backup plans for Plan C).

More importantly, votes should never be taken for granted, and this is the main problem within the current Democratic Party. The votes of liberal, decent people as well as people on the margins – union members, the working class, LGBTQ people, and people of color for instance – should go for Democrats because if not, the Big Bad (who are honestly truly big and bad) will get us.

It’s the Boogey Man approach to gathering us. And it’s effect is starting to wear off after decades of being tossed aside, neglected, sold out, ignored, thrown under the bus, and cheated on. Now that we have seen alternatives, this C OR T false dichotomy is losing its power. We are recognizing that while the Big Bad is bad, the ones supposedly on our side aren’t that much better.

Especially if you recognize the devastating and ruinous effects of Neoliberalism over the last two and a half decades on your community. While some middle class professionals may call the B’s “privileged” and others “losers”, try telling that to those who lost family to neoliberals’ reliance on mass deportations, mass incarceration, austerity, welfare reform, and drones. Ask them who has the most privilege: they or those who depended on Democrats and lost everything because of it?


San Francisco protest against ICE

If our interests and needs are not met, but rather we are the sacrificial fodder of the current Democratic Party, do not assume that we will cast a vote for the people actively destroying us and throwing us under the bus.


[1] While the immediate reference is to the Bernie Or Bust phenomenon, many others in the liberal/leftist field who are not supporting Clinton have little-to-nothing to do with Sanders. But we shall call them Busters for the sake of this argument not least because the argument is that they’re “busting” the Democratic Party.


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