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By Tommy Gagliano

On November 3rd I will go to my polling place in Binghamton, New York to cast my vote in the 2020 election. For president, I will see the option of “Joseph R. Biden / Kamala D. Harris (D),” and I will pass them over. I will then see “Donald J. Trump / Michael R. Pence (R),” and again I will pass. Finally, I will get to “Jo Jorgensen / Jeremy ‘Spike’ Cohen (L),” and I will make my selection for President and Vice President of the United States of America. I will not be “throwing away my vote,” nor will my vote be cast as a form of protest. Jo Jorgensen is simply the best option for me, considering both policy preference and strategy, and after hearing my reasoning, I hope some readers will discover that she is the best candidate for them as well.

It is no secret that Donald Trump and Joe Biden are near-universally disliked. Both have significant flaws in their character and ability that make them undesirable before even considering their platforms and policy ideas. Trump and Biden are both in their mid-seventies, and they’re both feeling the effects of it. Biden’s mental decline is significantly more apparent, as his frequent inability to finish a thought or form a coherent sentence has many claiming that he is suffering from dementia. Seemingly every time he talks in front of a camera, at least one nonsensical remark comes out of his mouth. While Trump’s mind is undoubtedly sharper, contrasting his most recent debate performance to his debates from 2016 makes it obvious that he has lost a step since first running for president.

Trump and Biden are also similar in that they have both been accused of various forms of sexual misconduct. While most of these claims have been denied, and none have been proven in a court of law, it’s still not ideal to have a president with such an abundance of allegations against him. The congruent complaints against the two major-party candidates don’t stop there: both have been labeled “racist” for things they have said and done, both are wealthy and unaware of what it means to be in the working or middle class, and both are straight, white men (because that matters to some people).

Simply because she doesn’t share the above features, Jo Jorgensen has superiority in character over the two major party candidates by default. The strength of Jo’s character goes beyond the extremely low bar of not being a mentally deficient alleged rapist, though. She has a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Clemson University, where she has worked as a Senior Lecturer since 2006. While I am of the opinion that the level of education and number of degrees one does or does not have has little to no correlation to that individual’s intelligence, earning a Ph.D. does show dedication and a strong work ethic. She is not a career politician, like Biden, nor is she running to boost her ego, like Trump. Jorgensen is very much a “normal person” with a “normal” career, who understands what it is like to be an average American. While I don’t claim to know what goes on inside her head, it seems to me that she wants to become president, not for personal gain, but to make our country better for everyone.

I am a registered Republican, so it should come as no surprise that I find Joe Biden’s policies to be extremely unattractive, and likely harmful to the country. Biden wants to increase the power and scope of government, hemorrhaging taxpayer money in the process. Though claiming at the first presidential debate to not support the controversial “Green New Deal,” his website says otherwise, stating “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” His environmental plan would cost a preposterous amount of money and would cause many industries to struggle, or go completely extinct. Additionally, while Biden does not support universal healthcare, he does intend to expand Obamacare, a nightmare of a program that led to increased healthcare costs for many. Of course, to pay for all of these policies, more money would be required, which is why Biden plans to increase taxes in a number of areas. Under Biden’s plan, top earners in New York City and California would be forced to give up a whopping 62% of their paycheck—a revelation that appalled 50 Cent, as he “[doesn’t] want to be 20cent.” Biden has also refused to answer when asked if he would pack the Supreme Court with more [presumably left-leaning] justices, an awful proposition that reeks of petty bitterness and would set a terrible precedent for future presidencies.

In general, Donald Trump’s policies align much closer to my preferences, but he too seems to be a proponent of big government, albeit in different ways. I appreciate his desire to increase jobs in the United States and agree with his cutting taxes and rolling back regulations to do so. When he interferes with free trade, though, he starts to lose me. Similarly, I like that he is willing to pull out of unfair international deals and agreements, citing “America First,” but I wish he would apply that same attitude to involvement in foreign countries and adopt an isolationist mindset, instead of interfering in Iran and increasing the size and funding of the military. (Space Force? Really?)

Unlike Trump and Biden, Jo Jorgensen sees government as the problem, not the solution. While the two major-party candidates argue over what frivolous and ineffective programs they want to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on, Jorgensen seems to be the only one that realizes that it might be better to let people keep more of their own money instead, stating on her website “As President, I will work tirelessly to slash federal spending, make government much, much smaller, and let you keep what you earn.” Jorgensen also wants to end US involvement in foreign wars and bring our troops home, having the military ready to defend our country in the event of a threat. On the topic of healthcare, Jo supports a free market system, in which government intervention is removed and true competition is allowed to exist. With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement following George Floyd’s death in May, criminal justice has become a hot topic. Neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden have any plans or intentions to reform the criminal justice system in any meaningful way, but Jo does. She wants to decrease the federal prison population by decriminalizing drug possession and other victimless crimes (that often target racial minorities) and pardoning anyone convicted of said crimes at a federal level. She also intends to defund federal involvement in policing, end civil asset forfeiture prior to conviction, abolish no-knock raids, and end qualified immunity. Jo Jorgensen is the only presidential candidate on the ballot that unequivocally believes in freedom and liberty and sticks to those principles consistently in every facet of her campaign.

Now, surely some readers must be thinking that this is irrelevant, since the two-party system in the United States essentially guarantees a victory to either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. This is not necessarily true. I am not daft enough to believe that Jorgensen actually has a chance of winning the election, but becoming president is not the only way for her to be victorious in November. The Libertarian Party is playing the long game, and their next goal is not 270, but 5%.

The Republican Party and the Democratic Party have a lot of institutional advantages over third parties, beyond name recognition. As major parties, they receive federal funding to assist with their campaigns. The Federal Election Commission’s website states that taxpayer money is used to “Match the first $250 of each contribution from individuals that an eligible presidential candidate receives during the primary campaign; and… Fund the major party nominees’ general election campaigns (and assist eligible minor party nominees).” The mention of “eligible minor party nominees” is important. Currently, the Libertarian Party is not considered one, but if they were to receive at least 5% of the popular vote in the 2020 presidential election, they would meet the requirements. Gary Johnson earned 3.28% in 2016; if Jorgensen can score an additional 1.72% of voters, the Libertarian Party would secure federal funding for 2024. It’s a small step, but an important one in working towards dismantling the two-party system. From there, the additional funding could be used to increase awareness of Libertarian candidates, and maybe even get the 2024 candidate on the debate stage. In all likelihood, it will be a slow process, but not an impossible one.

For voters that live in swing states, it may be wise to vote for your preference between Trump and Biden, but for voters that live in solid blue or solid red states, such as New York, California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Alabama, or Tennessee (among others), voting for Jo is the strategic move. If I were to choose the “lesser of two evils,” I would vote for Trump, but as a New York resident, it isn’t logical for me to do so. New York is going blue regardless; despite popular rhetoric, voting for either Trump or Biden would be “throwing my vote away.” The only way my vote means anything, as a New Yorker, is if I vote for Jo Jorgensen, to help her and the Libertarian Party reach the 5% threshold. 

I was too young to vote in 2016, but had I been born four months earlier, I would have voted for Donald Trump. He was among my least favorite Republican candidates during the primary stage, but at the time I was eager to support anyone with an “R” next to their name. I do not think Trump has done a bad job, but he is far from my ideal candidate. I will not be supporting him again in 2020. Jo Jorgensen is the strongest presidential candidate on the ballot in 2020, both in character and platform, and she is the best option from a strategic perspective. Rather than “wasting my vote” I will be voting for her on November 3rd, and I implore others, especially those that live in solid red or solid blue states, to do so as well.

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