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I’m a Lifelong Progressive Voting for Joe Biden—Here’s Why

A Trump win threatens democracy not just in the U.S., but across the world.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appears with his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) at Alexis I. DuPont High School in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. (Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appears with his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) at Alexis I. DuPont High School in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. (Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

I never thought there would be a day where I’d say “Voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is the most important thing you can do,” but here we are … 2020 has been a strange year indeed.

 As a lifelong leftist and a Democratic Socialist, I have a lot of issues with the mainstream Democratic Party. Politicians like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden—and yes, even Barack Obama—talk a good game about caring for working people, yet their voting records show otherwise. The neoliberal actions of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party have largely laid the groundwork for the ascension of Trumpism and despite what they say, they’ve supported Wall Street, pharmaceutical companies, health care companies, and tech giants every chance they could. All the while regular working people have continued to struggle under the deadly weight of medical debt, college debt, environmental decay, brutal police violence and so much more.

"What we face is an existential threat not just to our democracy but to the world as a whole." The Democratic Party has a terrible history of racism, classism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, and corruption. The only thing that’s proven worse has been the Republican Party. And therein lies the rub. The way our political system is set up makes it nearly impossible for a third or fourth or fifth party to gain any traction, and so we are continually asked to choose between awful and worse than awful.

And yet here I am, imploring you to vote for the same people I just spent two paragraphs tearing apart. That’s because what we face with this presidential election is not just another four years of profits for the rich, wars for the poor, and oppression for communities of color—we’re going to get that regardless of who sits in the White House in January. What we face is an existential threat not just to our democracy but to the world as a whole.

If you’re reading this and you’re a Trump supporter, you can stop right now. This isn’t for you.

If you haven’t recognized the horror that’s been happening for the past three years, you’re a lost cause. History won’t look kindly on you; your grandchildren will be ashamed to talk about what their grandparents did and what they stood for.

 This is a message for anyone else who is considering not voting or voting for a third-party candidate. I get that most of you reading this are in California, so your vote for the president doesn’t really matter, but I hope that you will take some of this and share it with folks you know in states where it will matter. Also, it’s imperative that you vote for down-ballot progressive candidates and measures as well.

Let’s begin by saying that Joe Biden is a deeply flawed candidate for all the reasons stated above and more. As for Kamala Harris, while she’s been quite progressive during her time in the Senate, her record on criminal justice in California is wretched. Still it’s imperative that you vote for them.

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Look, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, even Bernie Sanders has a history of support from the NRA. But here’s the most important part to remember: We’re not simply choosing the lesser of two evils. We’re getting the opportunity to pick our adversaries.

"We’re not simply choosing the lesser of two evils. We’re getting the opportunity to pick our adversaries." As Anti Police-Terror Project co-founder and former Oakland mayoral candidate Cat Brooks said in a recent Facebook post, “Organizing under a centrist government is a hell of a lot easier than organizing under a fascist regime.” History has shown us that we can’t expect structural change to happen at the ballot box. For every inch of freedom, equality, and safety that we’ve achieved, it’s taken years of marching, protesting, organizing, and pressure. Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t roll out the New Deal simply because it was the right thing to do; he did it because he was afraid that, if he didn’t give us something, we would take everything.

As flawed as Joe Biden is, he does seem like a decent man who actually cares about other people. He will at least keep our democracy in place while we continue to organize and fight for vital things like Medicare for All, education for all, defunding the police, universal basic income, the Green New Deal, and all the other measures that will bring further equity and equality to the American people. Plus, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been able to pull him left on a number of issues like a $15 minimum wage and health insurance for undocumented immigrants. For her part, Kamala Harris has been very progressive while in the Senate and will hopefully also be able to influence similar policies as vice president.

Whereas Donald Trump has proven time and again to be a motherfucking fascist. The only thing stopping him from declaring himself king and throwing anyone who doesn’t praise him in prison is our system of check and balances. And he’s spent the past three years doing his best to undermine and weaken those. If Trump is reelected, he’ll be able to replace at least one if not more Supreme Court justices, giving the right a super majority on the bench. And when that happens, you can say goodbye to things like LGBTQ rights, social security, Medicare, and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body.

Saying you won’t vote for Biden/Harris also requires a lot of privilege. It means that, somewhere inside of you, you know that you’ll probably be OK if Trump wins again. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case for Muslims, undocumented people, queer folks, people of color, leftists, journalists, Jews, or any other marginalized group. Because if you think it’s bad now, just wait till Trump thinks he actually has the mandate of the people.

On top of everything else, we need a landslide victory to dispose of Trump. Anything less will allow him to contest the results, claim they’re a fraud, and attempt to hold on to power. Trump knows this too. Why do you think he’s tampering with the U.S. Postal Service?

And finally, if Bernie Sanders can support Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, so can you.

Stuart Schuffman

Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host, poet, and activist. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner.  Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com

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