Lexi Santoro / Gavel Media

Why We Need To Be Single-Issue Voters in 2020

When you’re considering how to cast your ballot, there are likely many issues coursing through your mind. Which candidate has a better healthcare policy for me? Which candidate do I trust more? Which candidate will stand up for the marginalized? Sometimes the choice is hard; other times, it is easy. Rarely, though is it one-dimensional… unless, of course, you’re a single-issue voter.

Single issue voting has repeatedly drawn the ire of people across the political spectrum for years. And rightfully so; it often oversimplifies candidates down to their perspective on one issue and often fails to make a rational choice. However, in an era of partisan polarization, one issue has risen to the top of nearly everyone’s list: what is the letter next to the candidate’s name? Voting for one party is on the rise, and, as progressives, we have a duty to be single-issue voters voting for Democrats come November 2020.

Single-issue voting has caused problems for the left for many years. In a long, on-going fight, many people, especially evangelical Christians, centered their vote on two specific views: anti-abortion and pro-gun candidates. Despite left-leaning candidates sometimes having more palatable views overall, candidates consistently lose based solely on single-issue voters’ views on guns and abortion, which has stifled the ability to make policy in those areas for years. In many places, this is still largely true. Only in the most extreme cases can a pro-choice candidate win statewide in Alabama, regardless of their tax policies or even if they are Republican. 

Some commentators on the right are beginning to challenge these single-issue voting tactics in the era of Trump. At the same time, however, many Democrats are voting in the 2020 primary based on one issue: defeating Donald Trump. Other folks vote for people who are best on a particular issue, like race or climate change, because it deserves more attention on a national stage. In general elections, though, traditional single-issue voting seems to be on the decline; at the same time, a particular type of single-issue voting finds itself steadily increasing: straight-ticket voting.

Straight-ticket voting has been on the rise for years. Essentially, when someone votes literally “straight down the ticket,” or for every single candidate of one party, they are a straight-ticket voter. As time has gone on, many more Americans have begun to vote like this: “swing voters,” talked about in every election, are disappearing, and in 2020, every single state holding a Senate election voted the same for President and for Senate

The effects of this are enormous, including the nationalization of House and Senate elections and the importance of a Presidential campaign on the success of local races in any given area. Along with many other structures of our electoral system, it makes it very challenging for any third-party candidates to win elections (as third-parties are unable to gain any steam nationally). 

In the long-term, we will hopefully be able to enact reforms to our electoral system like ranked-choice voting that make it easier to vote for the best candidate in every election, even if they are independent or from a third-party, without jeopardizing the chances of one of the candidates from the main two parties. However, as our political system stands now, there are only two options.

Republicans have shown over the past three years of the Trump presidency that nothing will stop them from supporting this man. Even in the face of clear and obvious evidence that the President committed high crimes and misdemeanors, only one Republican voted to convict. Republicans failed to speak up against family separation, the Muslim ban, blatant corruption, and so much more. Thus, the Republican Party has revealed itself to be deeply xenophobic in every way, and, the Democratic Party, with all its flaws, is still the only party positioned to stop Trump.

So, no matter who is on the ballot in November for President, every progressive must become a single-issue voter and do everything they can to arm the Democrats against Donald Trump. Straight-ticket voting, for every Democrat on the ballot (even the ones who aren’t so great), will provide necessary change and push-back against the Trump administration from your city hall to the Oval Office. Defeating the Republicans must be the goal, and in 2020, we must vote for Democrats to do so.

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