Every kid grows up waiting for those big milestone birthdays that define their path to adulthood. Many idolize turning 16 because they can’t wait to get behind the wheel of a car. Others look forward to 21 so they can have their first legal drink.
But I always looked forward to 18 so I could finally fulfill my civic duty to vote.
Soon enough, the fateful day of adulthood approached. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I was going to love registering for a party I was passionate about and trying to do my small part to bring positive change to the world.
But I registered for the Green Party.
At the time, I was really confident in my decision. I determined, after many hours of contemplation, that I wanted to be true to what I believe and affiliate myself with a political party that best represents my values.
The Green Party is the fourth-largest political party in the U.S. and advocates strongly for environmental reform and preservation. Some of the more major platforms they support include the Green New Deal, legal status for immigrants, Medicare for All, and even Puerto Rican self-determination. And after reading this, I was quite confident the Democratic Party just wasn’t the right pick for me.
Anyone would tell you I’m devastatingly liberal, though. In fact, I’m so far left that I find I don’t agree with many aspects of either of the major political parties. The whole idea of a two-party system, in which the candidate with the most money often ends up bringing home the gold, just wasn’t appetizing for me.
As I slowly started to come out to my friends about my rather radical registration, they repeatedly told me what a complete idiot I was for registering for a third party.
No one understood why I would possibly give up my right to vote in major-party primaries, and as the first presidential democratic primary elections of my political enlightenment advance, I can’t help but question whether my party choice was the right one.
It’s been hard to tell whether my attempt to embrace my new-found political freedom was really just limiting my ability to effectively exercise my rights as a voter.
There has never been a member of the Green Party elected to a federal office, and while the number of elected Green politicians throughout the country may have been 143 in 2016, that’s still nothing compared to even just the 232 democrats serving in the House of Representatives today.
The chances of a Green Party candidate ever making a significant dent in the presidential elections are slim at best and some even argue that the presence of a third-party candidate only serves to skew elections, taking votes away from major-party members.
This sentiment rang especially true in the 2016 presidential race where many political analysts credited Green Party politician Jill Stein for giving the presidency to Donald Trump because she took votes away from the democratic candidate, Hilary Clinton.
I will probably never end up voting for a Green Party politician in a major election for this exact reason.
So, why don’t I just make the official jump to Democrat?
Our country is currently dominated by two major ideologies that many citizens don’t even whole-heartedly believe in themselves, but feel forced to align to due to the lack of political mobility.
This year, after much deliberation, I made an active choice not to change my party registration for the 2020 presidential primaries. Even now, I still feel uneasy that I won’t be able to officially cast my ballot for Bernie Sanders, but I just decided I value my right to political mobility more than one primary election.
I don’t believe that being in the Green Party will increase its influence in the current political system, but I do believe that by choosing to stick by an organization that resides with my beliefs, I am exercising the political expression I was so excited for at 18.
I’m not going to cave under the political machine just because it’s not easy being green.
The opinion desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.