By Alysa Cisneros, MPP Candidate 2017
In the midst of an election between two of the most unpopular candidates in history, many voters are wondering how we could have done this to ourselves. Earnest supporters of Clinton or Trump really believe that it is on the merits that their candidate has persevered. But the American polity isn’t divided into two discrete ideologies. Somewhere down the line, millions of people end up having to compromise some of their convictions to avoid electing an even less desirable choice. 42% of Americans are extremely dissatisfied with the two party system. When doing nothing, capitulation, and protest are all equally ineffective and produce the same result cycle in and cycle out, then that is when you know that something is wrong with the structure – not just who lands at the podium.
Making a move toward alternative systems like Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) or Approval Voting would help ease fears of spoilage and pave the way for more varied voices in government. It is often said that there are “Two Americas”. There are at least a dozen Americas, and if we can distill those down to a healthy variety of choices that more fully realize the scope of experience and values, we’ll be better for it. Defecting from a problematic candidate or party can manifest in more than a protest vote, but in a protest slate with a real chance to make electoral gains and advocate for more progressive solutions.
The outpouring of rage or apathy from progressives this election is telling. Systems must change in order to reconcile disaffected and principled progressives everywhere. The energy behind the Never Trump and Bernie movements has given us a unique opportunity. We can harness the impressive organizing structures that these movements created and turn it full force at adopting national RCV or approval voting. Join the conversation by engaging with organizations like FairVote and The Center for Election Science. Educate yourself, and then organize with others who share your dissatisfaction with the status quo to build awareness and support for the movement to reset the voting process. If we’re talking about reform and not revolution, this would give us the opportunity to figure out who we are, and as Howard Zinn said, send this spinning top of a world in a different direction.