Thoughts

On participating in democracy

I plan on voting for Biden in November.  But it’s terrible.  A vote for him is still a vote that will not significantly improve our deepest and most troubling social problems.  He won’t give us Medicare for All or any other badly needed boosts to social programs.  He will probably continue to support policies that actively oppress BIPOC.  He will not help us.  He’s also a sexual predator.  Truly, I do not want to vote for this man.  This is not the man I wanted to vote for.  I don’t want him in office.  He is simply not good enough.  This man doesn’t represent what I want at all.

But if I don’t vote for Biden in November, I feel like I’m making it that much easier for Trump to win another election.  And I want that even less than I want a Biden presidency.  I don’t want another 4 years of what we have now.  No fucking way.  No.

I’m so conflicted.  I feel like there is blood on my hands.  I feel like I’m casting a vote for death and misery if I’m not voting for a progressive candidate with a progressive platform.  I feel like I’m committing nothing short of an atrocity no matter what I choose to do.  I don’t want to harm people, and yet, won’t I essentially be doing exactly that?  I just want to do the right thing.  I don’t want to bring harm, or perpetuate harm towards anyone.

Trump will probably win anyway.  He’s doing all he can to ensure that, and it will probably work.  The impending climate disaster will kill us all because we will clearly continue to do nothing.  Our bodies will be riddled with micro and nanoplastics.  America will become an even more of an inhospitable police state.

 Nobody will hold Biden accountable for anything if he wins, and he’ll never give us the public policies we desperately need. 

“Is this what hope feels like?  I’d forgotten,” you tweeted recently.  How?  And for what?  I see nothing but bad things to come.  I feel a deep sense of hopelessness and despair.

There are plenty of reasons to feel hopelessness and despair right now, but with regard to Joe Biden, you are wasting a whole bunch of negative emotions on a giant pile of shitty beliefs that just aren’t true.

First, and let me be very clear on this one, Joe Biden is not a sexual predator. He’s just not. Believe me, I would be shouting it from the rooftops if I thought he were. When Tara Reade went public, I took her allegations very seriously. I gave her extra helpings of the benefit of the doubt, but it turned out there was a mountain of evidence suggesting that Reade has always been a lying, manipulative grifter (which I didn’t want to be true), and there was another mountain of evidence suggesting that the predatory behavior alleged by Reade is simply not in Biden’s character (which I was very reluctant to trust). There was a time when I was hopeful that Reade’s accusations might even knock Biden out of the race, but I’m not the kind of person who believes a thing merely because I want it to be true. It’s fine if you want to criticize Biden for what appears to be a history of awkward or retrospectively inappropriate behavior. Hell, you can even buy into all that “Creepy Uncle Joe” bullshit, but you’re just plain wrong if you insist that Joe Biden is a sexual predator. (Obviously, the same cannot be said of Donald Trump, who is a straight-up serial rapist with a list of at least twenty-five women who have publicly and credibly accused him of sexual assault.)

As for your policy concerns, I understand your frustration. I would love to be voting for a far-left ultra-progressive firebrand of a candidate in the upcoming general election. That would feel wonderful, right up until the moment that she loses in a landslide, and I guarantee you, a far-left ultra-progressive candidate would get her ass handed to her by Trump. That’s not an outcome we can afford as a species, much less as a nation. You understand this, which is why you still plan on voting for Biden. Good. I’m really glad you’re not being a purist asshole about this. The evil garbage monsters in the GOP just love a left-wing purist who refuses to vote responsibly. Republicans are desperately praying to their imaginary white Jesus that all the Green Party crunch bars will fuck it up for the rest of us like they did back in 2016. We cannot let that happen again.

Listen, I’m not gonna try and convince you to like Joe Biden. You’re already gonna vote for him, so I’m perfectly fine if you hate his breathing guts. What I do want from you is a little maturity, some vision, and a realistic sense of scale. No one candidate will ever be the solution to our problems — not Bernie, not Liz, and certainly not Joe. At best, a candidate is a vector, a course correction, a desperately needed step in the right direction. That’s all we can expect from Biden, and he is bringing it. He’s bringing it every single day with a list of policy positions that are more progressive than any President’s in the history of the United States, and he most certainly brought it with the selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Biden recognizes his place in history. He knows he is little more than a national stop-gap, a post-Trump tourniquet to stanch the bleeding. His Vice-Presidency and eventual Presidency will be a line of demarcation between two very distinct chapters of American history. This is more than just bridging the Boomer/Millennial generational divide. In the distant future (if we have one), it is my sincerest hope that Biden will be remembered as “The Last of the Old White Men,” a happy warrior who marked the end of a certain kind of Modern America and who helped usher in a new kind of Postmodern America. Those terms are clunky and loaded and absolutely will not stand the test of time, but we’re not the ones who get to name what we’re about to become. We’re the ones who have to keep doing the hard work to finally get us there, and that’s why I really need you to change your whole fucking attitude. 

This shit is going to be grueling. The fight will be brutal if not bloody, and there is absolutely no room for whiners and layabouts. You want to improve our deepest and most troubling social problems? Great. Quit moaning about doing harm with your vote and go do some actual good with your own two fucking hands. Pulling a lever in a voting booth every couple years is the bare minimum. In terms of civic duty, it is the absolute least you can do. Of course Biden won’t give us Medicare for All. Neither would Sanders or Warren. That’s not how any of this works. Presidents don’t give us shit. We do it ourselves. We demand it, loudly and with force, and over long stretches of time, with enough solidarity and sustained action, laws are enacted and policies change. 

I was around when the Clintons tried deadlifting their universal health care plan off the ground back in 1993. Maybe you remember it, maybe you weren’t even born yet, but that’s how long this shit takes. It’ll have been three fucking decades and two fucking generations of Democrats trying desperately to kick that gutbucket up Capitol Hill by the time we finally get around to some semblance of a single payer healthcare system. Thirty fucking years, my friend. That’s the kind of patience and perseverance the American experiment demands of us, so quit your fucking whining. Enough with all the pearl-clutching and hand-wringing. Take all your conflicted navel gazing bullshit and toughen the fuck up, buttercup.

You are on the right side of history. You are with the good guys. Quit your fucking bitching, and get out there and help us win.

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26 thoughts on “On participating in democracy

      • Cuttlefish says:

        Please. 25 years ago I would have insisted that electing a Black democrat named Barack Hussein Obama president in my lifetime would “never happen.” I sure as shit would have believed that *Donald fucking Trump* becoming president would “never happen.” Hell, I didn’t think marriage equality stood a snowball’s chance in hell of happening before I was straight-up elderly, if ever in my lifetime

        AOC is at the very beginning of her political career. If the presidency is in her future, it’s more likely than not a ways off. Suggesting that any of us can have legitimate insight into America’s political climate circa 2040 is just plain silly.

  1. Heather says:

    “I’m not the kind of person who believes a thing merely because I want it to be true”

    Please start selling coketalk merch with this, I could use a new t-shirt and bumper sticker. <3

  2. Richard says:

    I don’t understand why people are so hung up on Medicare for All when Biden very clearly states in his platform that he wants Health Insurance for All. Do people really not know that Medicare is Health Insurance? Like they’re literally the same platform.

  3. Sel says:

    An indigenous activist I follow on social media put it this way: “The elections are a chance to choose your enemy.” And that is exactly what it is.

    Do you want to keep fighting for reform against an executive branch full of murderous neo-Nazi billionaires? Or do you want to be fighting for it against a boring centrist?

    We do not live in a country that will elect a true leftist progressive. Under these conditions, elective ideological purity is a fucking illness. So pick who you can fight against most effectively. That person is Biden.

  4. tavan m says:

    the last sentence made me snort-laugh and cry at the same time. Im trying hard these days to not idolise anyone but you’re an exception, Coke.

  5. Anna says:

    As a non-US citizen or resident, it’s terrifying that the leadership of a country with an influence that is so disproportionate to it’s size and population is decided by the whims of it’s short-sighted, self-obsessed, poorly educated voters.

    Please, on behalf of most of the rest of the world, vote for Biden. Don’t make us pay for another four years for a world leader we could not and did not chose.

  6. Charlie says:

    It is SO NICE to have you back and cutting through the bullshit with your Machete of Common Sense. Thanks for this… you said a bunch of things that I sort of knew, but needed to hear someone else say them as simply and yet elegantly as only you can.

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