[CW: This article mentions sexual assault.]
Imagine if we could vote for a super exciting, unflawed, very progressive candidate this November. Unfortunately we live in the real world. The reality of our electoral system is that we must pick between two options this November: Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Let me be clear: Joe Biden is not my first choice for president. I wanted a more progressive candidate (I was a Warren supporter before she dropped out), and there’s no denying Joe Biden has a disturbing history; he supported the Iraq War, and according to recent allegations he sexually assaulted a former staffer, Tara Reade. But Warren is not on the ballot, and neither is Bernie Sanders. If you care about the future of this country you must vote for Joe Biden. Anyone who does not vote for Joe Biden is proclaiming that they are perfectly fine with Donald Trump staying president. If you choose to vote third party, or write in, or not vote at all, then when future generations ask you “What did you do to stop Trump?” you will have to reply, “Nothing, I decided to let him have a second term.”
Look, I get it. I think all progressives should be disappointed with being forced to vote for Biden, but we absolutely must look at the bigger picture. We must unify the party to stop the most dangerous president in recent history. There is a growing movement of progressives who say they will refuse to vote for Biden, be it because they are hell bent on Sanders, or because they believe Biden is unfit. I love the uncompromising spirit but this is a big reason why Trump won in 2016: Progressives are far too unwilling to hold their nose and vote for a candidate who isn’t their first pick. Whether or not they liked Trump, conservatives all over the country voted for him because they wanted to get that Supreme Court nomination. Many progressives did not do the same for Hillary Clinton.
No candidate will ever be perfect—Biden is certainly far from it—but we need to take victories wherever we can get them, no matter how small. And by victories, I don’t just mean elections, but also policy. I wanted Medicare for All, and that just isn’t on the table anymore, but I still have a responsibility to make sure Trump can’t stay in the White House. And even though it’s not as ideal as Bernie’s plan, Biden’s public option is better than giving Trump and the Republicans another four years to kill the Affordable Care Act. This isn’t just an ideological game. People’s lives are at stake here; thousands could die from lack of health care coverage alone. Clinton was far from perfect as well, but I would really prefer her calling the shots during the pandemic than whatever Trump is doing right now (inject disinfectant? sunlight? what?). Whatever choice you made in 2016 is behind us, but the gravity of the situation is now crystal clear after seeing four years of Trump. I know all of you Bernie supporters are ticked off, but we need you to swallow your pride and vote for Biden. Clinton lost the 2016 election because of three states (PA, WI, MI) with a combined margin of defeat of just 80,000 votes across those three states, which is far less than the more than 500,000 votes that went to Gary Johnson and Jill Stein in those three states.
Extreme Bernie supporters love to hate the “Democratic establishment” and are always saying Bernie got screwed. He didn’t, he lost this primary fair and square. The people spoke, and whether you like it or not, they chose Biden. Biden was able to energize Black voters in a way that Bernie never could, and won southern states over Bernie easily. The primary is over. We now only have two choices and we need to do what is best for our country.
I have been called “privileged” for being able to get behind a more centrist blue nominee despite my progressive values. To that I must point out: Anyone who decides to not vote for Biden because he doesn’t perfectly match up with their progressive views is in an incredibly privileged position, not to mention making an incredibly selfish choice. Biden is not a great man, but at this point he’s the only thing left besides one of the absolute worst.
Trump has blood on his hands. Trump has locked innocent children up in cages at the border. He refuses to condemn white supremacy. He has appointed a hotheaded Supreme Court justice who has been accused of rape. The list goes on and on. So if you still decide not to vote for Biden, then you are directly responsible for those children being held in inhumane conditions at the border and you have to answer for a president who still will not condemn neo-Nazis. And you are directly responsible for unnecessary deaths caused by a weak response to a pandemic.
Trump’s response to the coronavirus has been outright unacceptable. As early as January Trump was receiving classified warnings about the threat of the virus from intelligence officials, but he ignored all health officials who told him to take action. On March 10, two months after the initial warnings, by which time the virus had already come to America, Trump said “Just stay calm. It will go away.” As of the writing of this article, he is still peddling misinformation and unsubstantiated treatments. Say what you will about Biden, but I am confident that he will surround himself with smart and capable people and he will not ignore his health officials. We could see another pandemic, or perhaps the one we’re currently in will flare up again, and having Trump in office will yet again put us all in danger.
This leads me to one of the most important reasons we have to back Biden: appointments. If Biden becomes president, he gets to appoint Supreme Court justices, as well as a host of other positions in smaller courts, and the heads of organizations like the EPA, CIA and Department of Education. The president’s influence stretches far beyond their policy decisions and trickles down into all parts of the government. Voting against Biden is not only selecting an evil president, but allowing for the entire government to be constructed by him. If you don’t vote for Biden, this all rests on your shoulders too.
I am really tired of people only looking out for their own personal interests at the ballot box. To be honest, I don’t give a damn what your political views are or who your top choice was—you have a responsibility to millions of Americans whose lives are being ruined by Trump to vote him out. The only way to do that given the reality we find ourselves in is to vote for Biden. Don’t make a decision you will regret this November—swallow your damn pride and vote for Joe Biden.