As a progressive, I am voting Biden/Harris, and here’s why.
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Growing up in El Paso, my mom took me in the late evening, once the desert-sun set, to my middle school down the road to vote. The fluorescent light lit the wing of the building where other voters waited in line to fulfill their civic duty. A miniature replica of voting stations sat to the side of the adult stations for children to mimic their adult caretakers. While my mother voted, a volunteer lead me over and had me fill out my own kid-friendly ballot. Using a dull golf pencil, I check-marked my choices. I don’t remember if the choices were real candidates for that election or something more comprehensible for children, but I remember the pride I felt in participating in this very adult process. Once I dropped the photocopied quarter-
sheet into the makeshift ballot box, the volunteer handed me a “Future Voter” sticker and returned me to my mother, thanking us for voting.
Cruising down the one block back to our house in our beige Crown Victoria, I asked my mom whether she was a democrat or a republican. With a small pause floating in the air, she responded, “Democrata. Los republicanos son muy cabrones.” Democrat. Republicans are assholes. Although my parents were raised in the generation where people talked only of pleasantries, they still talked to their kids about politics—they wanted us in their own way to be aware of the larger world around us. I only recently discovered that not all people my age had this experience of casting a pretend ballot. That small action stuck with me as a grew up because I have been registered and have voted since I could—and choosing the party of my mother.
I voted for Obama and Biden in 2008 and 2012. At that time, they were the best choice. Every time I step up to the ballot box, I hear my mother’s words from that night. And I as I get older, I understand her statement more and more. It is not so much that Republicans are assholes, it is that they pass policies that are detrimental to poor and marginalized groups. Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has been pushing the limits of his power to dismantle and roll back progressive legislation (remember the travel ban?). Trump’s administration is doing what gay marriage advocates did leading up to its federal legalization; going state by state, court by court, and having outcomes lean in his favor. Most of these lower decisions have been overshadowed by larger, controversial policies or policy threats, and the majority of the republican party follow this modus operandi.
I am not the happiest democrat knowing that former VP Joe Biden is certainly the name that I will hit on the screen this coming November. He was not on my shortlist of candidates in the primaries; I voted Bernie Sanders, twice. I’m a progressive, which is different than a liberal. But it looks like the majority of the U.S. is not quite ready for a progressive president. Everything in hindsight has its stains, and Obama and Biden’s co-presidency is no different. And even though we look back and see that their presidency was flawed, in that particular time of history, we have to see that they were liberal for their time—the closest to progressive we could get. In this political climate and the uncertainty of everything in this world, as tainted as Biden is, I will punch his name in my ballot because that is the only way that we will get Trump out of office and get closer to a progressive government that the U.S. desperately needs.
Our governmental system was not intended to favor anyone that was not a man and not a WASP, and for as damaged and poisonous as our system is, Trump and the republican party are only making the system worse.
The democratic party is not pristine, but it is the choice between the two parties that will get us closer to the equality and humanity that the U.S. needs. There is a small sliver within the democratic party that allows for progressives to wiggle their way in and get elected. The republican party has no room for anyone remotely willing to move the country forward in a positive change. The republican party, especially with Trump at its helm, will only take us further from a country where some of the systemic problems can be dismantled. In fact, they are putting policies in place that are taking us further and further out into a perpetual storm and further and further from safe land. And if Trump stays at the helm, the republican party will drift us out to a place so far from which we will not be able to come back from in my lifetime.
I don’t want to have to say this, but democrats and all those who lean toward or go way into the left need to stop being picky. I wish I could tell you that the U.S. is ready for a woman president (or even vice-president), or another person of color, or even a strong progressive to be president, but just look at how many of those possible candidates dropped out of the bid for the presidential race. I want a progressive president in the White House just as much as any pro-BLM, pro-LGBTQIA, pro-feminist, anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-xenophobe out there, but I know that all major changes take time; they cannot happen overnight, and in this case over four years. Societal tolerance is like a large pendulum that is slow to make its way to the center where it is accepted. Why do you think Trump won in 2016? Most people were freaked out about having a black man as president, so they ran back to the thing that makes them (oddly) feel comfortable, and that was an old, white, conservative—Trump. Much of America couldn’t handle seeing a poised, polished Black man as president because he didn’t fit a stereotype that they felt to be the truth. That’s why all these conspiracy theories about Obama got started. People could not believe that a man like him existed so he had to be this outsider so that they could reconcile Obama in their illogical minds. One of the most popular conspiracy theories was the birther movement, and wouldn’t you know it, it was started by Trump. Trump was already gaining the majority of America’s support through their insecurities before he even threw his name in the hat.
Republicans were not picky about their candidate. Even Republicans who didn’t like Trump still voted for him because that was who their party chose as their candidate. They knew that there were larger issues at stake than Trump’s unpresidential behavior. They stuck to the party because they knew there was a chance to put one if not two conservative supreme court judges on the bench and Trump did! And he has appointed nearly 30% of lower court judges. These appointments swing the whole system to one side, and I am frightened of that side. This side has put kids in cages, is currently trying to end DACA, rolled back women’s rights, discredited doctors, scientists, and journalists, has stalled LGBTQIA, and the list is ever-growing. The damage count is almost incalculable, and we cannot afford another four years of it. We need Biden in the White House if we want to recenter the balance because voting democrat is the only way that we will eventually get closer to a better future and better politics.
I am reminded of the adage I often heard when I discussed Hilary Clinton and Trump as candidates, “choosing the lesser of two evils.” And yes, sadly, that is what our democracy is. It is a two-party system that is not truly benefitting the nation. Comedian Colin Quinn summed up this idea brilliantly in his special on Netflix “Red State Blue State.” Having to choose between only two candidates is not really a choice at all, but I am telling you now, voting democrat will get us closer to what we want in the future and voting republican will not.
Again, VOTING DEMOCRAT WILL EVENTUALLY GET US CLOSER TO A BETTER FUTURE AND BETTER POLITICS and that is why as a progressive I have stuck to the democratic party. The democratic party allows for progressive ideals while the republican party only takes us backward, citizens, and closer to an oligarchy and theocracy, and that is not what the U.S. was built on.
Somewhere down the line I think the U.S. can get to a three-party system but we will only get there if we allow for progressive candidates to run for senate and other government offices, and right now those people are only getting through by running as democrats, so we have to be like the republicans who sucked it up and voted for Trump even though they didn’t really want to because there are larger more looming consequences than the ones that are sitting on our laps right now (that Trump threw on us, by the way) or in the next four years. We have to look at the longer consequences like the supreme court judges. In 2018, RBG said that she has about 5 years left in her. That was her cue to us citizens to vote for a democrat in 2020 because, Trump-appointed with her gone, the court will be skewed to conservatives for 50+ years. Trump-appointed the two youngest justices on purpose. Do you want another Trump appointed supreme court judge? Do you want more and more laws slowly being chipped away in the lower courts so that they hold no water in the supreme court? His policies are sifting the wrong and broken parts of our system to the surface and solidifying them. Trump’s supporters are not energized for him because he has helped them; They are energized because he has kept the “other people” down. Immigrants, women, people of color, LGBTQIA, non-Christians, and other marginalized groups.
Now, a lot of progressives I know also have an issue with Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, most notably that she was a prosecutor in her state of California. I have no doubt that there are items in her past that she needs to address, but if you look at her recent voting history against Bernie Sanders, you can see that they share 93% of the same voting history.
If my plea to vote Biden/Harris seems desperate because it is. Trump is a rich, fragile, egomaniac who is using our political system to feed his megalomania—he isn’t trying to help anyone. And as stated by other political pundits, this year protest voting for a third party will be detrimental to our democracy. Another four years of Trump will devastate marginalized groups even further.
Both political parties are still dominated by money, that has not changed. But the democratic party has people in their corner who are trying to get a peek under the rug, while the republicans are only piling more and more garbage on to the pile to keep the system in place. The republican party has no interest in changing how the political world works, they want to stay in power. The democratic party is just open-minded enough to let candidates like Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortes, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Julian Castro, and others to run for office. Once you start letting people into the party who present different and progressive ideas, then that door starts opening more and more, and just like in society so too in politics, that is how you get change to happen—slowly. And that change takes decades to happen, not four years, and that’s why we have Biden as our democratic nominee and not someone more progressive. So, I am voting Biden in November because he is the first step of many to get the U.S. closer to what our democracy should be. Anyone else but Biden and Harris in the White House, and not only will the next four years be worse, but so will be the next 50+ years.