If your doctor told you that you had an awful disease, and you had two choices to treat it, which would you pick? 1) Take medication right now to lessen the pain and stop the bleeding. 2) Forgo medication in the short term to hold out for a real cure.
I know it’s not a perfect analogy for the dilemma Progressives face in the 2020 election (and it’s also an either/or fallacy), but as a realist and atheist, I’ll take the first choice every time. I don’t believe in miracles, or in the power of hope and faith. I believe in dealing with known quantities, making decisions informed by statistics, and predictions based on historical trends.
Unlike Dems, I’m not going to bullshit you and say the disease in this analogy is the GOP. That would be too easy. The disease is the system: unfettered capitalism; the failure of our elected officials to raise the minimum wage to keep up with the cost of living; the failure of our government to institute the kind of socialized medicine that would ensure no one has to go without healthcare or goes bankrupt when they get sick; the greed of predatory lenders; the obscenely wealthy corporations that own the U.S. government; grotesque income disparity; and in short, a system rigged against anyone not born into wealth.
And yes, this system is propped up by both Republicans and Democrats. They’re all in on it. Except for a few Progressives, they all rely heavily on corporations to fund their campaigns, and those corporations expect favors in return.
Ask yourself this, and be honest about it: When was the last time your elected officials did something to improve lower and middle class people’s lives in a measurable way?
The reason you can’t think of anything (except for one pathetic pandemic stimulus that’s almost insulting) is because they don’t work for us anymore. They work for the 1%. Admitting this is the first step towards changing it.
That’s why Our Revolution was such a powerful movement. Bernie proved you don’t need corporate money to run a successful campaign. Millions of people (including me) donated small sums of money (an average of $18 in the last quarter of 2019) so that our voices would be amplified, and Bernie’s campaign broke fundraising records.
Bernie’s success in 2016 and 2020 is a monumental achievement and landmark moment in American political history. We did that.
We. Were. So. Close.
Knowing all this, it pains me to publicly admit that I’ll be voting for Biden. Especially after his utter betrayal of women, people with pre-existing conditions, and, well, everyone on the Left, with his praise of Amy Coney Barrett and the revelation that he’s vetting Republicans for his Cabinet.
No, electing Biden isn’t going to cure the disease, but it will stop the hemorrhaging.
Because the hard truth is, there’s no cure yet. There’s no one to take Bernie’s place — except us. And it’s not that we’re not formidable, but the system is still rigged against a third-party candidate, and there’s no eligible Progressive positioned to run in 2024 with the kind of mass appeal and name recognition as Bernie. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I don’t think I am.
It’s time for whatever Our Revolution will become to regroup and re-strategize.
I don’t write this lightly or easily. In fact, I can’t think of any piece I’ve ever wanted to write less. And I don’t think I’ve ever written anything that sounds less like me either: There’s nothing clever, no snark, no literary allusions, and no joy. But as a vocal Bernie supporter for the last five years and a lifelong socialist even before I understood what democratic socialism was, I believe I have an obligation to explain my decision to vote for Biden.
Like some of you, Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign changed my life. I had little to no interest in politics until 2015 — not because I didn’t care, but because there weren’t any political figures who represented my values. Sure, I got swept up in Obama’s first campaign, but it took me forty-five years to feel like I was part of a movement that spoke to me. More than just the word “hope” on a poster, Our Revolution was millions of people rising up to fight the status quo.
I’ve been writing about Bernie’s campaigns for a few years now , and my writing has introduced me to Bernie supporters all over the world. Every time I wear a Bernie shirt, a random stranger stops me to talk to me about Our Revolution. Every time I’m driving on I-81, someone passes me and gives me a thumbs-up or a peace sign because my car is covered with Bernie stickers. Our Revolution made the world a little smaller, a little better, and a little less lonely.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried the day Bernie dropped out of the 2020 race. It felt like something I loved had died. No, it felt like something valuable had been stolen from me. From us.
But once the sadness and anger subsided, I had to look at things realistically.
And here’s what I concluded:
This election isn’t about me. Like most other “Bernie Bros,” I’m a white, middle-class woman with a job and healthcare.
Sure, I could vote Green Party, and yes I believe in the Green Party mission, but the Greens aren’t going to win. Like Libertarians, they put up a candidate every four years and demand everyone get excited about them, then fade into the background, pointing out how everything would have been different if they had been elected, until the cycle starts again.
So, how can my vote help someone else right now? Right now is what matters. Right now is what we have. I want my vote to protect someone from getting Covid, ensure that Americans get the aid they need to make it through the pandemic, pressure the government to start taking the threat of domestic terrorism seriously, make sure no more children are separated from their parents and no more women are subjected to involuntary hysterectomies, force corporations to pay higher taxes, make sure protestors aren’t gassed or killed, put the U.S. on a path to independence from oil and gas, and help promote science. (Except, apparently, when it comes to fracking, which the Dems seem to be just fine with. Okay, so maybe there is a little bit of snark in this piece.)
I realize how pathetic and paltry it all sounds. ICE needs to be abolished, police need to be defunded, immigrants need to be protected, college students need to be relieved of crushing debt, women need to preserve power over their bodies, POC and LGBTQ people need to be protected from discriminatory policies and laws, the military budget needs to be decimated and the forever wars need to end; and systemic racism needs to be addressed. But there’s no chance of any of it happening with a second Trump term.
I’m urging Progressives to think about what happens if Trump wins again. I know some of you think you’re punishing the Dems by voting Green Party, but are you really? The Dem machine just keeps on churning, making bad choice after bad choice, whether you vote for the Greens or not. But there are people in this country who simply will not survive another four years of Trump.
Please don’t tell me that Biden and the rest of the moderates, even with all of their faults (and they are legion) are going to make things worse in this country than they are now. That’s dangerously disingenuous.
Here’s what the future holds: The Squad is getting bigger every day. AOC, Ihlan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib are going to lead us into a brave new world. Cori Bush is a force to be reckoned with. Ed Markey beat a Kennedy. Charles Booker could have beaten McConnell. Progressives are winning races all over the country, and Progressives like Rob Anderson are taking on entrenched alt-right incumbents in deep-red districts across the South.
Young voters are becoming more politically active and might be a deciding factor in the 2020 election. Three-quarters of young people in America would vote for a socialist, the DSA is gaining membership and traction, and there is a burgeoning Movement for a People’s Party.
But those glimpses of what will be must be tempered with the right now. Right now is what we have. If Trump wins in November, no Progressive is getting near the presidency for decades. Think about it: If Biden is the party’s corrective for Trump, who’s the party’s corrective for an even more conservative and more dangerous Tom Cotton or Ben Sasse?
Chris Coons? Doug Jones? Joe Donnelly? Nope. This has to stop now.
I wish I weren’t writing this. I wish it could have been Bernie. I wish this didn’t feel like shitting on everything I believe in. I wish voting for Biden didn’t feel like gaslighting by a bunch of millionaires who don’t care whether Trump wins or not, and who are already salivating over the campaign contributions they’ll get if he does.
Remember #IWillFightForSomeoneIDon’tKnow? For me, right now, it means putting aside my pride, ego, bitterness, and yes, maybe my ideals, to do the one thing that’s within everyone’s power to do that will at least allow for the possibility of achieving the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Don’t vote like your life depends on it. Vote like someone else’s does.