Making our votes count in the 2024 election

We are in all likelihood heading for a general election this year in which the two leading candidates are the same as they were four years ago: Donald Trump and Joseph Biden.

Donald Trump faces 34 criminal charges for falsifying business records in New York. He faces 40 criminal charges for concealing, withholding and lying about classified documents he took with him to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House. He faces four
counts of criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct an official proceeding in Washington, DC. And he faces a further 13 counts of criminal conspiracy for issuing false statements, filing false documents, committing forgery, and impersonating a public officer in Georgia.

He continues to spread the Big Lie about the 2020 election, claiming that he won despite the overwhelming evidence that he lost, and claiming widespread voter fraud despite an overwhelming lack of evidence of such fraud. He has promised, if re-elected, to undertake “the largest deportation [of undocumented immigrants] in American history” and to reinstate his previous travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries. He has vowed to “clean out” and “remove” tens of thousands of government employees whom he regards as “Marxist leftists.” He has promised to “drill, drill, drill” for oil and gas with
no holds barred, end subsidies and incentives for clean energy, ramp up the trade war with China, and use US troops to crack down on protestors.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden continues to provide “rock solid and unwavering support” for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, despite the occasional request to tone down the killing of women and children, attacks on hospitals, schools, mosques, etc. Biden has voted against or vetoed otherwise overwhelming calls for a ceasefire and an end to the
bombing at the UN and in other fora. He has provided virtually unlimited military aid to Israel throughout the conflict, bypassing Congress if necessary. And he continues to promise Ukraine “total victory” over Russia and to pour billions of dollars of military aid
and equipment into prolonging that conflict, despite the fact that total victory is by now clearly an illusion.

Joe Biden is no Donald Trump. He plays by the rules and he respects the basic democratic principles that have so far guided how this country is run, such as they are. But those rules and principles are clearly unfair, corrupt and unsustainable. They allow the wealthiest individuals and corporations to dictate national policy on everything from drug prices and gun laws to the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Joe Biden is maintaining a status quo that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. He is presiding over the largest military budgets in US history. He is gearing up for a nuclear war with China and risking nuclear war every day with Russia. Four more years of Biden are in many ways just as frightening as another four years of Trump. 

Unfortunately, what we have in this country is a binary electoral system that makes it virtually impossible for a third party candidate to compete on equal terms with Democrat and Republican candidates. The two main parties control the whole electoral process from start to finish and have unfettered access to the media and the funds needed to get their message to a nationwide audience. No third party candidate has come close to winning the presidency in modern times.
We also have a very imbalanced state-centric electoral system that means your presidential vote counts for a lot more if you live in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania than it does if you live in Massachusetts or Wyoming. We already know that around 20 states (1) will vote for the Democratic candidate, whoever it is, just as assuredly as 20 other
states (2) will vote for the Republican candidate, no matter who it is.

That is the reality we have in this country. Unless you live in one of the 10 “battleground” states (in reality probably closer to 5 states), (3) you can vote for whoever you want because it’s not going to make a damn bit of difference to the result.
But before we get to that stage, for the next 8 months there are the primaries. If we are concerned about Biden remaining President, this is our opportunity to say so, loud and clear and with no risk whatsoever of giving support or comfort to the “other guy.” You may not like either of these other candidates, or the thought of supporting someone who
has virtually no chance of winning the nomination. But the more attention – and the more votes – these other Democratic primary candidates get, the more powerful the message we send to Biden and his team that we are not happy with what he is doing right now! 
There is also the possibility that at the Democratic Convention, anything could happen. If we really don’t want Biden or Trump, we should be doing all we can to push Biden off the Democratic ticket. And the best way to do that is to start supporting his primary
opponents and taking them more seriously. It’s not too late!

And if the Democratic Convention goes on to “anoint” Biden as the Democratic candidate, there are still opportunities to register our displeasure without actually risking a Trump victory. First of all, those of us in Massachusetts have the luxury of voting for third party candidates who will not win, but neither are they likely to somehow enable Trump to win Massachusetts.

Trump got more than 1 million votes in Massachusetts in 2020, but that was still less than half of the 2.4 million votes that went to Biden. It would take something like 1.5 million votes in Massachusetts going to third-party candidates like Jill Stein or Cornel West.

West for Biden to end up with fewer votes than Trump. By comparison, the Libertarian candidate got 47,000 votes in 2020, and the Green Party got less than 19,000. In the “battleground” states, where it really does matter where your votes goes, another option is “vote swapping” or “vote pairing.” This is where a voter in say, Wisconsin, teams up with a voter in Massachusetts and says “I will vote for Biden in Wisconsin if
you will vote for my preferred candidate in Massachusetts.” This has been organized in previous elections and has become quite common in some other countries (notably the UK). It was declared by a US Appeals Court in 2000 to be “clearly protected by the First Amendment.” (4)

(1) States that almost certain to vote for the Democratic candidate: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington.
(2) States that are almost certain to vote for the Republican candidate: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.
(3) Only states where your Presidential vote actually counts in 2024: Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New
Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

(4) See and