I’m Not Voting for Evil, and Millions of Americans Won’t Either
Oh, you want my vote? Come and get it.
At the ballot box in November, Americans will have to choose between Donald Trump — the Republican incumbent — and “not Donald Trump,” the Democratic challenger. Despite the fact that they overwhelmingly voted for our former vice president in their primary, the Democrats are afraid of running the actual Joe Biden against Donald Trump: a Wall Street lackey with an unsavory record in the Senate and Tara Reade’s claims of sexual assault. Although they’re probably right that Joe Biden is marginally better than Donald Trump — a comparison that gets hazier with every new headline — the Democrats have utterly failed in salvaging some greater appeal that Joe Biden has. Just like how the Republican Party gritted their teeth as they fell in line behind Donald Trump in 2016, the Democratic Party’s best candidate in 2020 is someone who struggles to even clear the bare minimum and is wholly undeserving of the Oval Office relative to his qualified and charismatic competitors. In other words, all our democracy has to offer voters is two commensurable evils, and our job come November is to vote for the candidate with the least amount of sexual assault allegations; now that is what I call democracy!
I remember how millions of Americans spent the last four years waiting for the day that the Democrats would oust Donald Trump from the White House and leave him on the ash heap of history where he rightfully belongs. However, we were profoundly disappointed with their efforts in the last two years: not only did the Special Counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller hardly indict him, but the Senate acquitted Donald Trump — a “VICTORY” — on the question of impeachment! In the wake of their failure in Congress, the Democrats told us that they’d clearly deny our current president a second term in the general election anyway. Yet, after a conflicted primary with over two dozen active candidates, the Democrats offered the best and brightest of their party with … Joe Biden? The Democratic establishment didn’t go for a well-experienced pragmatist like Amy Klobuchar or even a charming wunderkind like Pete Buttigieg; instead, they went for the man who was perhaps the least deserving of being the nominee compared to any of the other front runners who ran circles around him on the debate stage and led more dedicated campaigns on the ground than he ever could.
Unsurprisingly, the rest of the Democrats — including those who once opposed him — have given Joe Biden their unconditional support. Even Bernie Sanders, who ran a campaign stressing his paradigmatic differences with our former vice president, immediately endorsed him. Rather than use his progressive base — a coalition of young and working-class voters — as leverage against Joe Biden to gain policy concessions, Bernie Sanders instead sold out right away and gave up his one chance for moving our presumptive nominee closer to the left; he was no longer willing to risk his reputation by being “divisive” for the sake of having important conversations about the issues that matter to us. What leftward opposition Joe Biden once had — whether from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren — no longer mattered in the end, because the so-called “progressives” who promised to fight on our behalf were going to back him anyway without a question. Yet, despite the Vermont senator’s surrender, many of his supporters are still unwilling to budge; according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, 22% of Bernie Sanders supporters are either considering voting for a third party, voting for Donald Trump, or not voting at all. I can’t blame them.
After all, Americans weren’t happy to begin with about having to vote for the lesser of two evils in 2016; some of them were thoroughly unconvinced by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and many even deserted their party to vote for a man who vowed to burn the house down. Again, can I really blame them? There were many Democrats who reliably supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2016, yet all they got in return were taxpayer-funded corporate bailouts and the further deindustrialization of the Rust Belt; with thousands of dollars in debt to their name, an unemployment check in their hands, and no food on their tables, the Obama-Trump voters couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton, a woman who made millions of dollars giving speeches to bankers on Wall Street. Many of them thought that 2020 would be different, but they could have not have been more wrong. As they look on this year’s general election, the Obama-Trump voters will have to make another difficult choice in November: will they vote for another corporatist who aided and abetted the Obama administration they’ve come to resent, or will they vote for another corporatist who says that he’ll “make America great again”? They’ll vote for who they consider to be the lesser of two evils: Donald Trump.
While Joe Biden can probably garner the votes of desperate Americans who’ll support anyone who is “not Donald Trump” — which, to be fair, is a large voting bloc consisting of many Democrats and even some Republicans — our current president is totally leading Joe Biden with regard to general enthusiasm among their respective bases. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll from March, only 24% of Joe Biden’s supporters are exuberant about their candidate — the lowest of any Democratic candidate in two decades — compared to 53% of Donald Trump’s supporters who are overly gleeful of theirs. Though Donald Trump’s approval ratings have taken a hit due to his failed leadership amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, they won’t necessarily reflects overwhelming support for Joe Biden on Election Day. Many people just won’t take up the choice to pick the lesser of two evils; as 2016 showed us, there are millions of voters who would much rather vote for a third party or stay home. Though they dislike Donald Trump as much as anyone else, they just aren’t enthusiastic enough about Joe Biden to show up.
Unfortunately, the presidency isn’t the only office which has been occupied by a politician deemed as the lesser of two evils to the chagrin of Americans; perhaps the reason why most of us are so apathetic about voting is because the whole ballot is often a disappointment. Mitch McConnell, according to a RealClearPolitics average from April, has a favorable rating of 26.8% and an unfavorable rating of 46.3%; though the Kentucky senator draws the ire of Democrats nationwide and struggles to win the respect of Republicans, his position as the Senate Majority Leader makes his party hesitant to even consider replacing him with anyone else. Similarly, Nancy Pelosi is just as unpopular as her Republican colleague in the other chamber of Congress; polling data from RealClearPolitics puts our Speaker of the House at an average favorable rating of 36.3% and unfavorable rating of 52.0%. In other words, two of the most important positions in Congress — the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House — are filled by two of the most disliked politicians across the board who make Donald Trump’s ratings look good in comparison.
The fact that our Senate Majority Leader self-proclaims himself to be the “Grim Reaper” his chamber, our Speaker of the House indulges in $13 ice cream while she fails to provide pandemic relief, and our choices for the presidency are two men with sexual assault allegations should be indicative of just how broken our democracy is. I’d expect the most powerful offices on Capitol Hill to be occupied by politicians who can cut deals across the aisle, put country over party, and otherwise serve as outstanding examples of government in action. Instead, we have legislators who are currently playing hardball while millions of Americans are counting on them to make the right decisions amidst a global crisis, an incompetent president who responded far too late to the COVID-19 outbreak, and a presidential challenger whose strategy to 270 electoral votes relies on not being present whatsoever when our country most needs him to hold Donald Trump’s feet to the fire. Our democracy was already dysfunctional before our country was turned upside-down by an unprecedented pandemic, but now we know more than ever that nothing works in Washington.
Of course, we knew just how bad things were four years ago when we looked at who was running. Hillary Clinton was ideologically flanked by both the populist left and the populist right in 2016 simply because — after eight disastrous years of Barack Obama — Americans across the board were no longer willing to vote for the Nancy Pelosis of the Democratic Party. When the establishment consistently bends the knee to Wall Street and fails to represent the working class, I get less and less surprised that millions of people turned out in droves for Donald Trump. However, I am far less surprised that Bernie Sanders — who ran on “radical” initiatives such as Medicare for All and a Green New Deal — came as close as second in the 2020 primary of a party that has never respected his ideas, and I am not surprised in the slightest that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was able to oust Joe Crowley — a high-ranking Democrat in the House second to Nancy Pelosi — in 2018 as an outspoken democratic socialist. As the last four years have shown, Americans are longing for change, and they’ll either vote for fascist demagogues like Donald Trump or progressive champions like “the Squad” just because they’ve been so routinely disappointed by what the center has (or doesn’t have) to offer them.
Don’t get me wrong: we shouldn’t vote for Donald Trump just to give the Democrats hell as Obama-Trump voters did in 2016, because Donald Trump — like Joe Biden — lacks moral character and does not deserve our vote any more than our former vice president does. Instead of casting our ballots out of spite, voters should start asking their candidates the important questions about what the presidency entails and condition our vote on whether or not they meet our threshold for the position. What will Joe Biden do to help me pay off my student loan debt from medical school? Would Joe Biden support or veto Medicare for All if the bill was brought to his desk in the Oval Office? We can’t let Joe Biden hide during the general election and win a presidency without any effort; he has to answer for his campaign and what he stands for, especially in light of Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations which have raised even more pressing questions about the man we’re running. Rather than voting “blue no matter who” and letting the Democrats make a mockery of our democracy, we have to remind our party that we have standards and aren’t afraid to apply them to the man running for the most important executive office in our country. We aren’t like the Republicans who followed Donald Trump off a cliff in 2016, right?
Yet, rather than providing a candidate who promises change that we can actually believe in, the Democratic Party has instead pushed for Joe Biden and taken our votes hostage on the evermore dubious assumption that he’s “not Donald Trump.” In other words, our former vice president is running a campaign on nothing else but the fact that we want you-know-who out of office, and the Democrats are so overzealous as to think that, in our desperation, we’ll just suck it up and vote for Joe Biden anyway. How stupid do they think we are? I am done with having to choose between blue and red evils at the ballot box as if they will lead to profoundly different outcomes for our country. Regardless of who wins, our country will continue to fail in mitigating the pandemic, the detention camps on the border will stay open, Wall Street will still receive billions of dollars in tax cuts and bailouts, women like Tara Reade will continue to be silenced, and our Congress will be more gridlocked between two intransigent parties than ever before. If Joe Biden really wants my vote, then he can come and get it; until then, I will vote my conscience on Election Day, and my conscience — as of now — tells me to stay home.