Henry David Thoreau was once locked up for refusing to pay a poll tax. He opposed the tax on moral grounds – in a democracy, he argued, a man shouldn’t have to pay to vote.
That night Thoreau looked up from his jail cell to see Ralph Waldo Emerson standing outside. Emerson looked at him and asked, “Henry, why are you in there?” Thoreau fired right back: “Ralph, why are you out there?”
The point being that having morals has consequences. No one who is sane wants Trump to be President again.
Trump is a disaster
It’s a strong argument: voting blue no matter who is a matter of fundamental importance to saving the United State. So the distaste for Biden seems foolhardy and self-destructive. We are drowning, the metaphor says. If someone throws you a life preserver, you don’t criticize the color or shape of the preserver. You climb back on the bloody ship!
There are vital concerns. 4 more years of Trump will likely doom the Supreme Court. His special brand of institutionalized racism and border cruelty is heartbreaking. There’s the threat of Trump going full dictator as well.
One of the pair of Biden and Trump will be the next president. It sucks, but chose the lesser of two poisons.And if you’re planning to vote for Joe Biden, I get it.
If you find yourself in that camp, I can’t blame you. I’m not saying you’re wrong. But if you’re curious why other progressives don’t agree with you, I’ll try to give you some idea.
Over on twitter, progressives like Kyle Kulinski, Krystal Ball, and Briahna Joy Gray have received nothing but vitriol for suggesting that they can’t or won’t vote for Biden.
The case for not voting for Joe Biden
This largely comes from a different way of viewing the world. For many progressives, those who are unlikely to vote for Biden, Trump is as much a symptom as he is a cause. He’s a product of a decadent society that has voted rich actors and tv stars as president twice in the last 40 years. Neoliberal policies have made the rich richer and the poor poorer, have stripped jobs from the working class.
The thinking is that Democrats and Republicans are as similar as they are different, in that both are fundamentally beholden to corporate interests. In this mindset, Biden is part of the same system as Trump—both are corporatist servants of the neoliberal status quo. To some, mostly those that live in the US, that seems radical but to others, mostly those that live in other countries, it’s self-evident.
Sanders seemed different. He didn’t take any corporate money. He seemed to stand as champion of the downtrodden. He stood as the first real choice that many minorities and poor and downtrodden had ever had at the presidential level. He was not seen as the 1A to Biden’s 2A. He was different at the atomic level.
As for Joe Biden? Even his supporters know that there are the flaws with him. All together, it’s not worse than Trump, probably, but it’s bad enough for some to say they cannot ever support him.
A brief summary of Biden
He’s lost 2 presidential runs already. He seems to be in cognitive decline.
He’s received the lowest possible score on his environmental policies. His legacy is also one of kids in cages, of pushing Nafta, of cutting Social Security. He actually asked Bush for more war in Iraq. He was part of the Obama admin that first put kids in cages. Frankly, if he didn’t have the (D) after his name, there would be very little to recommend him.
It gets worse. He stood for segregation and racist policies. He’s been accused of sexual assault. His very campaign promises echo Trump’s. Let’s go back to a better time, he says. It’s another version of Make America Great Again, only tinted blue. No part of Biden’s policies or expected Cabinet addresses the concerns of progressives. Should he win, these progressive feel their issues will be neglected for the next 4-12 years.
So there’s a real disgust toward Biden. But there’s also strategy. For decades, the Democrats have moved to the right as their old progressive roots have withered and died. The idea is that power is never given away freely. If leftists fight for their beliefs, they think, they’ll try to exact some movement toward true progressive policies.
We can’t return to normal, the thinking goes, when normal was always part of the problem.
Many poor people cannot afford incremental change. They don’t have dependable jobs or savings or healthcare or own homes and it’s unlikely they will get those things in their lifetime. So replacing the despicable Trump with the slightly less despicable Biden doesn’t feel like a solution. The status quo is quashing millions of people and Biden’s promises to return to pre-Trumpian times sounds terrifying to the less fortunate.
For the #neverbiden progressives, the metaphor isn’t grabbing the life preserver but trying to figure out a way not to let the boat sink at all.