Yes, Trump is a terrible president and worse, a terrible human being. But that doesn’t mean I will vote for Biden, because that illusion that we are stuck with only two possible choices is a part of what’s wrong with American politics.
And that many people will angrily stomp off when they hear I won’t vote for either Trump or Biden is an even bigger part of what’s wrong with American politics. The false dichotomy of Democrat versus Republican, of Red or Blue is at the same time a chimera and what is destroying America.
I will explain why I won’t vote for Biden in two ways—by analogy and by policies. First, the analogy.
I am married; very happily to a wonderful person. That’s because I didn’t lower my standards and waited for the right person. I didn’t marry someone who didn’t care about what I care about, much less someone who would try to harm me. I choose my friends the same way—why would I be friends with someone who is against me and what I care about? Same for politicians. Why would I vote for someone who is against me and what I care about?
Some will retort that the marriage analogy is not good because, they claim, “you have to choose Trump or Biden, you are stuck with one or the other.” You are imagining that you have only two choices and this is a self-defeating passive response. It frees you from some of your civic responsibility but you weaken yourself and strengthen those who wish to dominate you and others.
Some will continue to reply angrily that “you can vote third party but you will still end up with Biden or Trump.” That attitude is not only more passivity, it is fatalism. It is saying to yourself and to the world that you are helpless, impotent, and worse, willingly giving up your voice and rights to others. It is the fatalistic attitude that dictators worldwide spend considerably effort to instill in people to oppress them, but adopted willingly by certain Americans.
Back to our analogy: The passive, unthinking assumption that one must get married, and only to certain people, inclines one to making bad choices. Perhaps in times past people were forced to marry someone selected for them or forced to choose a spouse from the small number of candidates in their community. Many of us have advanced beyond that passive denial of personal freedom. The passive, unthinking assumption that one must accept either Red or Blue is handing your freedom to others. Choose that path and you get stuck in a bad political marriage with someone who does not respect you.
I wish to remind everyone that the purpose of elections and government is to enact policies not enshrine one political party as superior.
Now, let’s talk policies. Yes, political policies not political parties. The false Red-Blue dichotomy greatly hinders discussion of policies. I wish to remind everyone that the purpose of elections and government is to enact policies not enshrine one political party as superior. Politics isn’t some “reality” TV show where you trash talk and vote off someone you don’t like. Well, more accurate to say politics shouldn’t be that, but for far too many people, both Blue and Red, politics and elections are that facile.
What policies do you endorse and actively support? It is amazing how few people can answer that simple question. Amazing, astounding, but a sign of how far the level of American political discourse and involvement has fallen. Most people answer that question about policies with “I’m for getting rid of [insert opposite party].” That’s not being for anything, that’s being against someone(s). It’s fake activism because it’s being reactionary. It’s another surrender of your voice and power to someone else.
Political parties and political candidates are meaningless except in that they support and attempt to enact policies. If politicians aren’t attempting to enact policies, they are just taking money from the public. And if politicians aren’t attempting to enact policies that better the lives of their constituents, then they are defrauding the public. To vote for a politician without regards to policy issues is to be complicit in defrauding the public.
Who I vote for is a simple calculus: who supports the policies I support? Party membership doesn’t matter. Personality doesn’t matter. Age, gender, race, religion, any and all other demographics don’t matter. Policies matter. I know, so old-fashioned an attitude in the this era of glitzy TV ads and sound-bite news and endless social media memes about how the other party is evil. To actually want politicians to do something other than insult the other party is almost archaic these days.
Regardless, on policy issues I stand, I can do no other.
Thinking about the policies I care about: expanding healthcare, education, workers’ rights, equal opportunity, and fair wages, plus protecting the environment, and so on, neither Trump nor Biden support policies that better the lives of people. Why should I vote for someone who opposes what matters to me? Why should I vote for someone whose policies would harm Americans?
And if you angrily reply “Trump is worse,” or “Trump is evil,” or some such rhetoric, I remind you that Republicans say “Biden is worse and “Biden is evil.” I should vote for Republicans because Democrats are evil, I should vote for Democrats because Republicans are evil. Blah, blah, blah; it’s all the same juvenile playground behavior. If that’s your answer, then YOU are the problem.
Tell me, did you get your friends to be friends with you by demanding they be friends with you because other people are worse than you? I sure hope you didn’t marry someone using those tactics.
My vote is precious and it only goes to someone who will enact policies that better the lives of people. No amount of memes, glitzy TV ads, and sound bites will change that. No amount of angry threats and juvenile insults will change that.
The illusion that we are stuck with only two possible choices is a part of what’s wrong with American politics. That people will refuse to dialogue with (except to insult) people with different ideas is another huge part of what’s wrong with our society. That people think the answer is simply eliminating the other side (Republican or Democrat) perpetuates the inefficient system. Instead of donning a Red or Blue mask in a kabuki theater play of a government that serves the interests of a few, not the many, we should be working to change the corrupt system. Voting for Biden would change nothing of substance. We can be more.
Some will retort that I am casting a “protest vote.” No, it’s not a protest, it’s actually standing for something. If we all stood for something instead of attacking others, maybe we’d all be better off.