Comedy and criminology writer Molly Hodgdon delivered a stark warning four years ago when, two days before the presidential election, she tweeted: “Voting 3rd party is a good way to let marginalized groups know that your abstract principles are more important than their very real lives.”
Many progressives didn't listen, and Donald Trump's ensuing victory has turned out far worse than she, or we, could have possibly imagined. Nearly 200,000 Americans have died as a result of Trump’s response, or lack thereof, to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, in the U.S., Black and Latinx residents are three times as likely to become infected and twice as likely to die.
Immigrants and refugees have been put in concentration camps, their children separated from them and put in cages; they have been sexually assaulted; some have died due to abuse, neglect and denial of medical care, and there are now reports that some women have been undergoing forced hysterectomies.
Hate crimes are up, and rights for the transgendered community are under attack.
Despite all this, and a mountain of evidence that another four years of Donald Trump would be even more disastrous, somehow not everyone has learned their lesson. There still exists a group of progressives who cannot accept the fact that Bernie Sanders is not the nominee, and they are vowing not to vote for Joe Biden because he and Kamala Harris are nowhere near as liberal and progressive as they would like.
I get it. I’m not happy with their track records, and I don’t think they’ll advocate for the changes I believe this country needs. But I recognize that the progress I want is much more attainable with Biden and Harris leading our country. These changes will not happen overnight, regardless of who is in office. They are going to take time, and we will have to do more than just vote in the upcoming election to see them come to fruition.
I also recognize that voting for a third-party candidate, or not voting at all, will ensure four more years of Trump, and that is something we just cannot afford. I know it’s unfathomable how stupid and selfish Trump’s voters are, but, after the 2016 election, it’s no longer unfathomable that they exist, they exist in large numbers and they vote.
Others who have made this same plea to Bernie-lovers have been met with protests of, “You can’t bully me into voting for someone,” or, “If we want to change the two-party system we need to vote third party,” or, “A vote for Biden is a vote for Biden, a vote for Trump is a vote for Trump, a vote for Bernie is a vote for Bernie.” These arguments are naïve, unrealistic and dangerous.
If you voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries, you are liberal and would have never voted for Trump. Your vote for the Green Party candidate would not take a vote away from him. It would, however, take a liberal vote away from Biden, just like voting for Jill Stein took votes away from Hillary Clinton in 2016 and voting for Ralph Nader took votes away from Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Correct me if I'm wrong, but having Trump and George W. Bush as our president for 12 of the last 20 years hasn't worked out so great for progressives.
The unfortunate reality is that we live in a two-party system. Like it or not, a vote for anyone beside the Democratic and Republican nominees is a wasted vote. Do I wish we had more than two political parties? Yes. Do I want to abolish the electoral college? Absolutely.
But we don’t have the luxury to take risks right now. Lives have been lost, and our entire democracy is on the line.
Trump has already been planting seeds of doubt over the legitimacy of the upcoming election, and you can guarantee that he will challenge any result that isn’t a landslide victory for himself. We need every single person who does not want four more years of Trump’s fascist regime to vote for Biden. No ifs, ands or buts.
We need to look at the bigger picture, and we need to look long term.
The popular analogy circulating online is that, “voting isn't marriage, it's public transport. You're not waiting for ‘the one’ who's absolutely perfect: you're getting the bus, and if there isn't one to your destination, you don't not travel -- you take the one going closest.”
Biden’s bus doesn’t take us exactly where we want to go, but it takes us in the right direction. Trump’s bus drives us off a cliff. In our current situation, if you choose not to get on the bus, it’s still going to drive off a cliff, and you just might end up getting dragged along with it.
Biden is not Mr. Right, but he is Mr. Right Now. Rarely will we find a candidate who meets all our needs or wants. We progressives need to suck it up and vote for the candidate who comes the closest.
We need to vote for Joe Biden.