More than 50 progressive writers and activists—including prominent left-wing voices such as Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Cornel West—unveiled an open letter Wednesday morning that argues a vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in November is essential because while "the lesser evil is evil... in this case, the greater evil is simply off the charts."
Citing "well-founded" concerns that President Donald Trump could attempt to dispute the results of the election if he loses, the letter states that "voting for Biden all over"—including but not merely in swing states—could help "ward off post-election Trumpian tactics" by delivering the former vice president "as big an Electoral College margin as possible."
"The message that not voting in swing states sends in 2020 is that we are OK with Trump for four more years as long as we don't have to sully our hands by voting for Biden."
"The Electoral College should be gone. Electoral coercion, manipulation, and misdirection should be gone," reads the letter, which was published in Common Dreams. "The need to purchase visibility should be gone. The Democratic Party candidate should be Bernie Sanders or whoever would inspire your positive support. But none of that will happen by Election Day. So it undeniably comes down to this—help Biden or increase the risk that Trump wins."
The letter goes on to briefly acknowledge and reject common arguments against voting for Biden in November, from "claims that more votes for the Green Party's or any other third party's presidential candidate are necessary to win long-term progressive goals" to "protestations that Biden is beholden to elites."
The latter claim is accurate, the open letter says, "but beside the point"; also true is the insistence that "not voting sends a message."
"But the message that not voting in swing states sends in 2020 is that we are OK with Trump for four more years as long as we don't have to sully our hands by voting for Biden," reads the letter, which was released just over 40 days ahead of Election Day.
Pointing to Trump's destructive climate and nuclear weapons policies, his ongoing assault on democracy and the judiciary, and his "racism and sexism," the progressive signatories declare that "ending the Trump presidency is, by far, the most important goal that can be achieved between now and January."
"Not voting for Biden in swing states won't bring on a revolution. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not make anyone the slightest bit more progressive, radical, or revolutionary," the open letter declares. "So, it comes down to this. Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden. Vote for Biden at least in swing states—and urge others to do so as well. And then get on with building grassroots movements for ongoing fundamental change."
The letter comes just over month after progressive advocacy group RootsAction.org launched its "Vote Trump Out" initiative aimed at boosting voter turnout in the key swing states of Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin with the warning that a second term for Trump would spell catastrophe for workers, immigrants, and the planet.
"Another four years of Trump may literally lead us to the stage where the survival of organized human society is deeply imperiled," Chomsky says in the campaign's launch video. "It doesn't matter whether you like Biden or not. That's your personal feelings, irrelevant, nobody cares about that. What they care about is what happens to the world. We have to get rid of Trump, keep pressure on Biden, just as Sanders and associates have been doing."
Read the full open letter and view the list of signatories below:
Many people, both on the left and more mainstream, are now discussing preparations for the very real possibility that Donald Trump will dispute the results of the election after he has lost. Such concerns are well-founded. But such concerns should not obscure the most urgent task—defeating Trump in the election with as big an Electoral College margin as possible, to undermine his predictable efforts to steal the election.
How does Trump lose? Trump loses only if Biden, however distasteful he may be, wins.
And how does Biden win? Biden wins if he gets more votes than Trump in swing states so that his Electoral College count is higher than Trump’s.
The Electoral College should be gone. Electoral coercion, manipulation and misdirection should be gone. The need to purchase visibility should be gone. The Democratic Party candidate should be Bernie Sanders or whoever would inspire your positive support. But none of that will happen by Election Day.
So it undeniably comes down to this—help Biden or increase the risk that Trump wins.
And what helps elect Biden?
Voting for Biden all over helps ward off post-election Trumpian tactics. Voting for Biden in swing states is essential.
Protestations that Biden is beholden to elites are true but beside the point. The lesser evil is evil, but in this case, the greater evil is simply off the charts.
Claims that not voting sends a message are true. But the message that not voting in swing states sends in 2020 is that we are okay with Trump for four more years as long as we don’t have to sully our hands by voting for Biden.
Claims that more votes for the Green Party’s or any other third party’s presidential candidate are necessary to win long-term progressive goals ignore the many ways that Trump’s re-election—with his climate policies, his nuclear weapons policies, his undermining of democracy and the courts, and his racism and sexism—would obstruct all positive social change.
Imagine it is late November. The mail votes are finally all counted. Everything is tallied. And Trump has scored an Electoral College victory. That is what not voting for Biden in swing states risks. It is what not advocating we should vote for Biden in swing states risks.
Ending the Trump presidency is, by far, the most important goal that can be achieved between now and January.
Not voting for Biden in swing states won’t bring on a revolution. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not make anyone the slightest bit more progressive, radical, or revolutionary. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not grow or solidify the ranks of opposition. But not voting for Biden in swing states risks immeasurably enlarging the obstacles that opposition will thereafter face.
So, it comes down to this. Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden. Vote for Biden at least in swing states—and urge others to do so as well. And then get on with building grassroots movements for ongoing fundamental change.
[Organizations listed for purposes of identification only.]
Aisha Jumaan, epidemiologist and health activist
Amar Shergill, chair Progressive Caucus of Calif. Dem. Party
Andrej Grubacic, anarchist writer, activist, CIIS, Collective 20
Ann Ferguson, women, gender, sexuality studies, activist
Avi Chomsky, writer, activist, Salem State
Barbara Ehrenreich, author, journalist
Bill Fletcher Jr., writer, TransAfrica Forum, trade unionist
Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams, Ethics In Tech, SF Berniecrats, Collective 20
Charles Lenchner, digital media, People for Bernie
Cornel West, writer, activist, Harvard Divinity School
Cynthia Peters, The Change Agent, City Life/Vida Urbana, Collective 20
Dan La Botz, New Politics, DSA
David Barsamian, Alternative Radio
Doug Henwood, economic journalist, LBO, KPFK’s “Behind the News”
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Doug Pagitt, Vote Common Good
Elena Herrada, Radio host "Beloved Detroit," activist, Collective 20
Gar Alperovitz, writer, historian, Democracy Collaborative
Gregory Wilpert, writer, activist
Hassan El-Tayyab, peace activist, songwriter, author, FCNL lead lobbyist
Jeff Cohen, writer, RootsAction.org, FAIR founder
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Baptist preacher, moral activist
Joseph Gerson, writer, International Peace Bureau
Juliet Schor, sociology, Boston College
Karen Bernal, former chair Progressive Caucus of Calif. Dem. Party
Kathy Kelly, activist, author, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Kim Scipes, professor, USMC veteran
Leslie Cagan, social justice organizer and writer
Linda Gordon, historian, author, “The Second Coming of the KKK”
Liza Featherstone, feminist journalist, “Divining Desire,” Nation contributing editor
Lydia Sargent, author, Z Communications
Marina Sitrin, writer, activist, Binghamton
Marjorie Cohn, activist, scholar
Medea Benjamin, author, CodePink, Collective 20
Michael Albert, writer, Z Communications, RevolutionZ, Collective 20
Nanette Funk, writer, Brooklyn College
Noam Chomsky, writer, Collective 20
Norman Solomon, author, “War Made Easy,” RootsAction.org
Oscar Chacon, Salvadoran immigrant, organizer, Collective 20
Paul Ortiz, historian, “Emancipation Betrayed,” Collective 20, University of Florida
Peter Bohmer, writer, activist, Evergreen, Economics for Everyone, Collective 20
Peter Kuznick, writer, historian, “Untold History of the United States,” American University
Robert McChesney, author on media and political economy
Robin Hahnel, author, activist, American University, Portland State University
Sandy Carter writer, activist
Savvina Chowdhury, political and feminist econ, Evergreen State College, Collective 20
Shane Claiborne, author, activist
Sherry Baron, DSA
Sonali Kolhatkar, writer, host of “Rising Up With Sonali” Radio/TV
Stephen Shalom, writer, activist, New Politics
Steve Early, writer, labor activist, NewsGuild/CWA
Suzanne Gordon, journalist, author, healthcare reform advocate
Ted Glick, climate activist, author “Burglar for Peace”
Victor Wallis, author, “Red-Green Revolution”
Vincent Emanuele, writer, activist, organizer, combat veteran, Collective 20
Winnie Wong, organizer, People for Bernie, former senior adviser Bernie 2020