Copy/paste of this piece by u/PirateGirl-JWB
It's advertising season again for the feckless parties that pretend to be representing us in Congress. And that mean the old one-two punch of "at least we're better than the other guys" and "the blue bus still takes you closer to where you want to go" arguments by the VBNMW crowd.
Ignoring the fact that it is "blue no matter who" senators that have done all the damage to the blue agenda under Biden (a mixed blessing in my book, considering all the damage that COULD have been done if all the legislation was passed according to plan), there's a serious flaw in this argument.
Progressivist arguments of incremental improvements over time measure progress on a level terrain, and only could the movement in one direction. Therefore, "small" wins over time mean you are moving in the right direction over time.
There is a great covering of ears and singing "lalala I can't hear you" when it is pointed out that progress on the field is often overwhelmed by the movement in the other direction, even while the blue team is in charge.
To see the flaw in this argument, you need only to correctly rotate the picture. Instead of pretending we are on a football pitch, we need to picture the slope of a mountain, with a dangerous and deadly lake of boiling lava at the bottom. Incrementalists keep cheering every foot that we climb towards the top, while ignoring every foot that we backslide towards the bottom.
Pick your issue. Climate change. Real wages. Social safety nets. Corporate control. Monopolistic market practices. Labor unions. In every case, the incrementalists are selling illusory progress, and we are slipping further away from the goal of safety at the top of the mountain. It's mighty hot down there, and I'm starting to sweat.
Edit to add this comment from PirateGirl on an earlier related post:
I can tell you, as someone who has participated in running campaigns and ran campaigns (mostly for Democrats), as well as training candidates and volunteers in running campaigns, that voting third party (or no party) is a more effective way to protest the major parties (caveat, this is not true for third party cross-endorsements/crossover voting. if the WFP endorses the Dem candidate on their line, it does not matter that you voted third party--to the campaigns and the parties, you voted dem.).
When operatives analyze past voting patterns, there is no nuance. If their party won by a 6% margin in a previous cycle, they don't go "well, there were some R protest votes in there over that zoning issue". They never think about the soft voting in that context. Assessing "on the fence/protest" voting is done through the current campaign's voter contact apparatus.
Squishy voters may not be contacted at all, if the core support is strong enough. But third party voters who are ideologically close to their major party will be--especially if there is no one on that line. (Conservative, Libertarian and Independent, for example, will be chased by Republicans, while Working Families, Socialists and Greens will be chased by Dems).
What very, very, very few of them do, is consider the non-voter. Chasing non-voters (other than newly registered ones) is usually a sign your campaign is in trouble, because it is high-effort to get a true non-voter to the polls, and it requires almost as much effort to differentiate between a true non-voter (has no interest in voting at all) and a disenchanted non-voter (non-voter, but willing for the right issue/candidate).
Ways to register a protest that will be noticed more:
- party registration switching. pay attention to party registration deadlines for primaries. switch into the party you don't care for in time for the primaries for that party, and go vote, but don't vote for any candidate or throw a vote at the clear loser so you aren't helping the greater of two evils with a vote. in the general, you can vote third party or default to your own party's candidate. after the general, switch back. operatives pay attention to party switchers.
- focus on candidates that petition on, either to form a new party, or just to get on the ballot without party support. petitioning is hard work, and people who do it are serious about running without the major party support. if the two major parties couldn't get this person off the ballot with signature/legal challenges, they will consider that candidate a threat. the more of the vote they draw (while being considered a spoiler and unviable), the more the parties will pay attention to that person's platform. they WILL make assumptions about whose party that candidate drew votes from, or if they brought in new voters.
- work the system. in some jurisdictions, it's relatively easy to get a write-in on the ballot. if you hate the offerings, find someone to put their name on as a write-in, and vote for that person as a protest. if there is no requirement for advance filing and you can write-in on a unrestricted basis, vote for yourself. parties ignore write-in votes that are improperly made, but will take into account the votes for a properly filed write-in candidate. if the jurisdiction has to count the write-in names, then they have to record them. You will have announced that you did not vote for one of the majors by putting your own protest vote in your own name (as opposed to mickey mouse) on record.
- if you are registered as a major party voter, take their calls and/or doorknocks. When they ask if you will vote for their candidate, DON'T SAY YES OR NO. Ask who they are running against. Be cagey, but imply that you aren't loving your party's choice for the ballot line. campaign operatives are better at noticing when their own party members are a NO if they have to figure it out themselves. Do this every time you are contacted.
- if you are willing to use money to send a message, and campaign donations are public record in your jurisdiction (or available to a campaign via database purchases), then use donations to send a message. send your own candidate $5 and send the spoiler/third party/petition candidate $25. they will notice this too.
None of this, unless done on a large enough scale, will affect the outcome. But at the individual voter level analysis, they are noticed.
Both have been added to WOTB's Information, analysis and activism" links