A Vote as a Message

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The most decisive, clearest way to send a message to our elected officials is by casting a vote. This is how we tell politicians that we support them, after all; it is by voting that we allow them to stay in office or fire them and choose someone else to replace them.

As a messaging tool, however, voting is fairly crude. In our single-member, first-past-the-post electoral system where candidates reach office by a simple majority, it becomes a simple yes or no message. We just tell the candidate if we like him or not, with nothing in between. As voters, however, we might want to tell our elected representatives more than they are better or worse than their opponent. We often want to make clear that we would like them to take a stand on many issues.

As a committed progressive, this is especially relevant when I go to the polls. Connecticut is a blue state, and democrats have a strong hold on political power. They are much, better than the alternative, a Republican party full of insurrection-curious extremists committed to tax cuts for the wealthy and curtailing our freedoms, from abortion to the right to vote. Connecticut Democrats, however, often display a lack of vision, and have often been reluctant to address some of the most pressing issues working families face in our state.

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I could give a long list of disappointments and not-so-petty grievances here; in previous columns I have covered plenty, from labor rights to public services and housing to how you run a railroad line decently. When I go to the polls, I´d like those Democrats I am voting for to know and understand that I want them to go further and push for reforms that truly advance social, economic, and racial justice in our state (as well as improved rail service), not just be slightly less terrible than the other guys.

As it turns out, Connecticut is one of the rare places where you can actually send that message. Our state has fusion voting, an electoral system that allows candidates to appear on the ballot under more than one party line. On November 8th, you will be able to vote for Ned Lamont, as well as many other legislators and constitutional officers, plus U.S Senator Richard Blumenthal, as candidates of more than one political party, following their endorsement. As we explained here, the Working Families Party endorsed Ned Lamont last month, so he will be on our ballot line.

A vote for Ned Lamont as a Democrat or a vote for Ned Lamont as WFP candidate counts the same for the final tally. The beauty of fusion voting is that third-party votes do not get wasted; they can help a candidate in a competitive race win the election. In addition, each and every one of those votes under the Working Families Party line also sends a message, each telling the Governor that the voter that cast does so because they support the Working Families Party agenda. WFP voters believe that Black Lives Matter; that we need to invest in schools and safe, vibrant, inclusive communities; that we need to tax the rich to fund a just recovery. We support healthcare for everyone, good jobs and a fair work week for all workers, affordable housing and an end to exclusionary zoning, and a Green New Deal to transition to a clean energy economy. This is what we are telling the Governor. Marking the WFP line is a statement, a call to more decisive action.

This November 8th, then, remember that your vote can mean a great deal more than just a choice between two candidates. You can also voice your opinion on the shape of that candidate’s agenda, and if you are asking them to lean left once it is the time to govern.

(Unless you are Bob Stefanowski, that is, as only the far-right Republican party decided to endorse him. The GOP only leans one way these days, away from the center).