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It’s four in the morning and my heart is in my throat again. The presidential election in November fills me with nothing but dread and despair.

On the one hand, we’re facing a candidate who spews hatred, advocates violence, and peddles sneakers and bibles while facing astronomical legal costs for his fraud, lies, sexual assaults and lawbreaking. One the other hand, we’re told that to stop him, we have to vote for a president who keeps sending weapons and billions of dollars to a genocidal nation that has killed more than 33,000 people (including more than 12,000 children) since October.

This is not an election to sit out, either.

The next four years are pivotal, not only for the United States, but for the fate of the entire world. The person in the Oval Office will have to deal with the climate crisis, rising inflation and economic instability, tensions with Russia and China, ongoing militarism and conflicts worldwide, the critical need to overhaul the healthcare system, the immigration conflict, the AI apocalypse, mass shootings and gun violence, the erosion of democracy, and the hate-based violence of certain sectors of our populace. (To name just a few of the urgent crises we face.)

One thing is certain: business as usual will not save us. Neither reactionary fascism nor neoliberal authoritarianism offer any real solutions to these times. In my view, neither candidate truly represents the urgent needs of our people. Nor do they share the same longings, hopes, and visions that we hold for our future.

We need a bold, visionary, undaunted candidate for president. One who rejects the politics of hate. One who renounces the politics of greed.

Most of us will never get to vote for such a person. I will.

I live in Maine, one of the few states with ranked choice voting. While most of the nation’s voters are being told to ‘hold your nose and vote for the lesser evil’, I will be able to go to the polls in November and vote according to my conscience. Then I can check a second box for my second choice. If my preferred candidate does not win, then my vote goes to the back-up. (And sometimes even a third or fourth person after that.)

I am not naïve. I hold no delusions that my preferred candidate is going to win this time around. But the voters of Maine will be able to send a loud ‘shot over the bow’ to the two-party system. Our first choices are an audible protest vote against being forced between two candidates who are not measuring up to the demands of the times.

In November, many of us will be choosing between dread and despair. But in December, make a choice for your conscience: push your state to adopt ranked choice voting.

It is a path out of the endless spiral of dread and despair that the two-party system has forced us into. It holds promise for we, the People, in terms of breaking free of the ‘race to the bottom’ of endlessly voting for the lesser evil. No matter how you vote this time around, make sure your next choice is to take action to get ranked choice voting on the ballot.

Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection and the award-winning Ari Ara Series. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and the Program Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns.

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