You shouldn’t vote based off of electability

Photo courtesy of Voice of America News

Photo courtesy of Voice of America News

Charlotte Guy

Despite 11 candidates to choose from after the Iowa caucus, Democrats still cannot unify themselves under one. So for many, the choice for the Democratic nominee becomes a matter of electability. However, this principle is flawed. Rather, voters should be voting for the candidate that stirs a sense of passion and excitement in them.

The stakes are high: if Trump is reelected and Republicans keep control of the Senate, they will name Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, replacement to the Supreme Court, continue to appoint right-wing judges, and erode Democratic policies such as social justice and environmental protection like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Given these reasons, Democrats have every right to be scared. 

Unfortunately, too many Democrats are falling prey to the idea that voting for the most ‘electable candidate’ is the solution. But the fundamental issue with that idea is that no one can say for certain who in fact is the most ‘electable.’

History has shown that electability is highly unpredictable. During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was seen as the ‘electable’ candidate. As of late October in 2016 virtually all polls saw Hillary Clinton winning. In contrast, in the 2008 election, Barack Obama was not seen as the likely candidate and went on to serve two terms. 

Even as recently as last month, before the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden was the front runner and the best bet for beating Trump. But now new polls in New Hampshire and some early primary states show his support is slipping among younger voters. Is Biden really the electable candidate after all? 

Another issue with prioritizing electability is that it makes it harder to elect a woman. Our history of all-male presidents makes it difficult for women to be seen as viable candidates. As a result female candidates like Elizabeth Warren has had to focus on her electability to the detriment of speaking to her broader, progressive policies. 

The better criteria is to focus on the candidates whose policies you support. Each candidate in this election appeals to a narrow group of people without appealing to the entire party. But it is important for both the future of the party and our future leaders to understand the level of support behind different wings of the party; from moderates, progressives, to even socialists. Democrats need to nail down policies on health care and taxes among different generations, genders, income groups. If people vote for their beliefs, it ultimately helps shape the party doctrine.  

There will be a winner from the Democratic primary. Whether or not they appeal to all, the ultimate test for Democrats will be to learn from their mistake the last election and turn out in hoards to vote for the winner. It is too big of a risk not to. •