A mask placed on top of a ballot. The Green Party is dedicated to a single-payer healthcare system, free public education and eco-socialism  PUBLIC DOMAIN

Steven Keehner is a junior majoring in journalism and history.

I’m writing this on Oct. 23 — a day before early voting opens in New York. For the last six months, I have stared down the dreaded dilemma: Who should I vote for in the most important election of my lifetime?

Do I support the incumbent President Donald Trump, who has shown time and time again that, along with not being qualified to run this country, he’s just a really hateful person?

Or do I look to the former Vice President Joe Biden, the man who is the textbook definition of a career politician and another lousy person

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Neither. I’ll pass.

For the upcoming presidential election, I will be casting my vote for Howie Hawkins and the Green Party. Hawkins, an environmental activist and trade unionist, is running alongside Angela Walker, and for where I stand politically, it’s where I feel most comfortable placing my vote.

The Green Party, with their dedication to a single-payer healthcare system, free public education and eco-socialism, offers something the Democrats don’t come close to matching.

Now, I’m fully aware that many Biden voters will get in their feelings with my decision to “waste” my vote. To those people: I don’t care.

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I can quickly explain my decision to vote Green for two reasons. First off, I don’t support capitalism, so I’m not going to cast my vote for a capitalist. Secondly, being a New Yorker, my vote doesn’t matter anyway, so I’d rather invest it into something that could benefit later elections.

To clarify, I do not want nor believe that Trump will be winning reelection. As I’m writing this, it appears that Biden will be running away with the race come Nov. 3.

Between you and me, I am positive that Hawkins will not win. He won’t even come close; Hawkins has lost every single political race he’s been involved in. I’d be willing to bet that aliens would invade Earth before he would become president of the United States.

Why am I voting for him then? It’s fair to ask.

I believe in socialism. Capitalism exists to exploit others and is destroying our planet. Healthcare, education, food and housing are all rights humans should have. I don’t care what the markets have to say about what’s a working economy and what isn’t, especially as many tinker on the edge of financial disaster. As neo-fascism makes its way back into the American mainstream, it’s more vital to fight it now than ever before.

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To see things like school-aged children in lunch debt, the absurd gap in wealth inequality or the destruction of the planet, I know that the world will be a better place if capitalism were to collapse.

Biden and Trump, for all of their differences, aren’t really that different. To hear the term “radical” and “left-wing” associated with the Democratic Party, who have continually gone on the record stating that they’re a capitalist party, is hilarious to hear. If this election was happening in France, Biden would be considered a center to center-right candidate — the man believes in fracking, he isn’t a leftist!

Before I get too radical here, let me reel my line back to the point: I would’ve happily voted for Bernie Sanders  if he got the bid, but he didn’t. I still believe he would have beat Trump in 2016 and now, but he isn’t the nominee. I can accept that.

But because the DNC has failed to meet my interests, I will not be spineless and take to supporting Joe Biden. Call it stubbornness if you want to, but I know where my interests and beliefs lie. My second (and more important) reason for voting Green simply comes down to where I live.

New York is a Democratic given at this point. Whether I choose to vote for Biden, Trump, or myself, it won’t change the state that hasn’t gone Republican since 1984. 

The only reason I’d vote for Biden is if I lived in a swing state. But I don’t.

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The Electoral College is an awful and outdated political system that doesn’t only explain why we’ve been left between Trump and Biden, but why my vote means nothing on the national front.

In 2016, the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, had nearly three million more votes than Trump, but she still lost. I refuse to believe that in a country that boasts about being the beacon of democracy, that you should still win the highest position despite being outvoted by three million people

Within the second half of that reason, there’s actually a tremendous incentive in voting for a third party; you’ve just never been told about it.

If a party receives between five and 25% of the popular vote, they become eligible for public funding. That’s pretty huge. 

If you’ve missed the memo, money is one of the driving factors in American politics. To give the Greens access to money for advertising and other campaign-related funds is how you open up the two-party binary without completely overhauling the Electoral College.

I don’t believe it’s that far-fetched either. In 2016, the Libertarian Party led by Gary Johnson, received 3.28% of the popular vote, which was the third most behind Clinton and Trump (Green only received 1.07%). The last time a third party candidate met the mark was the Reform Party’s Ross Perot in 1996.

So a victory for Green may not end up with Hawkins in the White House, but it could be one that gives the party a shot at competing with the big two in future elections. The legitimacy that would be earned makes it a worthwhile cause to place my vote in.

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It is vital that you stand true to your beliefs and vote in a way that reflects that.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with a question: If every election is the “most important one to date,” what does that say about the system itself?

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