Please vote for Joe Biden. It might seem like it, but I’m not trying to get political – I’m just trying to kindle a stranded, struggling ember of humanity in our democracy.
Listen, to be honest, I’m disenchanted with Biden. He’s lackluster. His political career has had its share of devious deals and sour policies. Some of those policies have been downright bad any way you measure them. I think he’s a fading star of a bygone time, and any success that a President Biden may have over the next four years is still precious little compared to what another strong candidate may have brought to the table. And in terms of a running mate, while I think that Harris has had a talented career in law and politics up until now, she didn’t even make my top three as a contender for the DNC candidacy. So please don’t think that I am eagerly endorsing liberal superheroes in some home stretch attempt to rally a blue wave. There are plenty of people who will defend the Biden/Harris ticket tooth and nail. That’s not what I’m doing.
I’m appealing to those of you who still haven’t decided for whom you’ll cast your ballot and perhaps the wary few of you who are leaning towards Trump but can still appreciate a rational argument. Many on both sides have declared that anyone who is yet undecided must have completely missed the last four years. In my estimation, though, that’s probably not the case. If I had to hazard a guess, if you’re undecided right now or even leaning towards Trump, it’s probably because the issues at stake just aren’t hitting too close to home with you. And I actually understand that. Maybe you even feel vilified for your moderate or conservative tendencies and you don’t want to use your sacred vote to support a party that you feel has cast you as the villain.
I’m guessing that your profile is probably pretty similar to mine: White, gainfully employed, fair level of security, not discriminated against in any fundamental ways, relatively open access to income and opportunity to live the life you want to live (assuming, of course, that you bust your butt to make it happen). To be candid, the last four years of my life (which have coincided in time with the Trump presidency) have been the best four years of my life: I got married, started a home with my wife, got a cute little puppy, my wife and I both have received promotions and raises and we’re working in the fields we studied while simultaneously studying for our master’s degrees. We live in a safe, welcoming, diverse neighborhood that seems like a postcard of what America ought to be.
If we were strictly watching the mainstream news channels, it might seem – from our perspective – that things really aren’t as bad as they are being painted. Even the coronavirus pandemic might not seem that harrowing a threat: Most people are masking up and playing their part in mitigating risk, and if a couple hundred thousand people die, it’s a true tragic shame as a result of a merciless virus and a bit of a lethargic government response, but it’s not the apocalypse that we thought this might have turned into back in March.
At the end of the day, politics is a messy game with a bunch of slimy actors who will serve their interests first and our interests second. That’s just the way it is, right? Like Churchill said back in 1947, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Except no. That level of nonchalance about which party is in control is a luxury afforded to only those with true privilege. Let’s look at the issues really on the table – health care & public health, immigration, the climate & energy security, education, racial inequality and police reform, plus so many others. These issues have real consequences for real human beings, and Trump has been ambitious and successful in his execution of his political priorities, which have largely consisted of breaking down the policies & programs that our democratically elected officials on both sides of the aisle have spent decades building up.
Here are some reasons you might not like Biden and are considering voting Republican:
- You think lower taxes on the wealthy stimulates the economy and leads to overall economic growth.
- Your religion implies certain values that don’t align with the freedoms associated with liberal social policies.
- You don’t see why we should invest in clean, renewable energy when fossil fuels are meeting our demand perfectly efficiently right now, and you feel diminishing that sector wouldn’t be great for America.
- Your money is yours and you don’t want to support welfare programs for freeloaders.
- Institutions aren’t really that racist and there are definitely paths for people of any race to find success in this country.
- You think that only those with the resources to migrate legally should be allowed to enter this country and contribute to and reap the benefits from participating in our robust market.
Politically, you could argue any of these points and how they align with your personal beliefs and values, and you could probably find some (albeit spurious) evidence to back them up. What I implore you to think about is whether your political opinions have grave impacts on you – by which I mean life or death. Because that is what this election means for so many people living on the margins.
- If the election of Joe Biden means that you will pay more in taxes and that keeps you from taking a big vacation or paying off your mortgage this year, it could also mean that a person devastated by the cratering economy has access to food security for a bit longer.
- If the election of Joe Biden means that you may hear a bit more Arabic or Spanish in your local supermarket and that makes you uncomfortable, it could also mean that a refugee is getting a chance to escape a civil war or a drug cartel that would have certainly cost them their life;
- If the election of Joe Biden means that the economy shrinks as we test the waters with greater dependence on renewables and less on fossil fuels and that means that you can no longer afford to go out to dinner once a week, it could also mean that a person in a coastal community who does not have the resources to move will not be made homeless by rising water levels;
- If the election of Joe Biden means more of your income will support greater access to health care for the poor, and that costs you a new patio next summer, it could also mean that two parents working two jobs each to support their children can afford to take them to the doctor when they get sick;
- If the election of Joe Biden means that your local suburban police department can’t buy a new 2020 cruiser because that money is now being put towards anti-racist programming for your local police force that is already mostly anti-racist, it could also mean that the next George Floyd or Breonna Taylor gets to wake up tomorrow.
At the end of the day, for many many voters, the tangible outcomes (consequences) of a President Trump or a President Biden aren’t that severe. We will continue to live our lives. To budget our expenses. To wish we had more freedom and less taxes. To wish that separation of church and state could still reconcile with our own unique belief systems. To long for a yesteryear that was probably not as great as we are remembering it but it’s nice to think about. To be frustrated at the other side for their ridiculous ideas of what makes for good policy. But we will live.
For many others, whose voices are relegated to the same measly one solitary vote that we all have, they aren’t so sure they will live. They are on the precipice of ruin, ushered there by decades of bad policy on both sides but pushed closer to the edge than ever before by a selfish regime that has parted with traditional conservative republicanism in favor of some bastardized version of a nationalist wet dream.
Maybe, like me, the last four years for you have been decent. I don’t want that to change for you or for me. But I assure you that your wellbeing was not the intended outcome of almost any of the policies passed in the previous four years – a happy coincidence maybe or the result of a bit of privilege mixed with a generally strong system that has insulated you from shocks, but definitely not America-first strategy.
So, ultimately, if the issues on the table just don’t affect you that much, but you’re thinking that for this reason or that President Trump’s policies might marginally favor you as opposed to those of Biden, then do something that takes true bravery and cast your vote not for your own comfort but for the dignity and livelihood of the people for whom this election has real consequences. Vote for dignity. Vote for humanity. Vote for Biden.
Make it count!