I won’t tell you to vote for Joe Biden
Hello. I am not here to change your mind.
I’m just here to talk.
Full disclosure: I was all in for Elizabeth Warren in 2019/2020. When she dropped out, I reviewed the field and moved to Bernie Sanders (who I voted for in the democratic primary in 2016). Then he dropped out.
Which brings us to today. Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee. Warren and Sanders — along with Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a personal hero of mine, Joe Lewis — have endorsed him.
Instead of asking if you are supporting Joe Biden, can we do a thought experiment? OK. Tell yourself something you want, something like, oh, I don’t know — Medicare for All. Now. Imagine that the person running for President of the United States does not endorse that position. But! The person they are running against supports an even less robust health care network; they would roll back certain protections granted by the ACA, like guaranteed coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions (a meaningless term, medically speaking — but very meaningful, insurance-ly speaking). So. Who do you vote for?
Let’s take this wager further. If someone supports Biden, does this mean they de facto do not support Medicare for All? Does it mean they reject Medicare for All, that they will stop at nothing until the very notion of Medicare for All is tossed in the same bin as the E.R.A.?
OR perhaps it is possible that someone supports, even agitates for Medicare for All, and votes for Biden. Is *this* possible?
Yes. It is.
Is it even possible that Biden believes in Medicare For All, but will not promise something he cannot deliver?
Yes. It is.
Is it possible that the person you aligned with was not going to win the nomination (true, in my case) and you are allowed to have feelings about that (indeed, I do), but rejecting the more liberal candidate in order to be… superior? Well, this feels wrong. I mean actually it feels really good — and right; when you are in your ego — and those feelings are cascading through you — you are feelin’ powerful. But. I hope, when those feelings recede, as they do and they must, you’ll concede that if you can afford to bask in that trance-like state of righteousness, in the symmetry of your convictions and actions — you are privileged. (And maybe you need to stand down.)
“School bullying, especially racist and Islamophobic bullying, has increased on Trump’s watch. So have hate crimes. So have white nationalist terror attacks. Not sure America, especially America’s minority communities, can tolerate another four years of this. November matters.” — Mehdi Hasan
What does it mean to cast a vote for someone? Does it mean you become their defender (or apologist, as the case may be?) I will go on record saying I am deeply concerned about the accusations of Tara Reade, specifically how this may be affecting/triggering/being used to manipulate survivors (like me). I’m not sure where or how this story fits into this piece but— based on all the available information that I have—which is not to say “case closed” — and we will see what Biden’s request leads to — I do not believe Joe Biden is a sexual predator, or an abuser, or a pedophile, and if you use those terms simply for rhetorical purposes, you are missing it. Also? I believe women.]
What does it mean to ‘read’ someone else’s vote? Me to you, you to me… If you want to suggest that unless someone votes for your candidate they are obvi not invested in/actively against the values and beliefs you hold — then you need to take Logic 101. That’s not how this whole thing works. I’m a public school teacher. If you send your kids to private or charter schools, should I assume this means you not only don’t care or believe in the value of my work, or the value of public education, or don’t believe in socially equalizing measures, or don’t care about the needs of the less privileged? Does it mean you want to starve me of my livelihood, thus my ability to care for myself and my children? No, that would be a logical leap, a logical fallacy. In the event I was supporting a candidate who argued for universal public education, and that candidate did not win the nomination, I could justify all my resentment and anger and disgust at you and your candidate, signaling: 1. My desire to be right. 2. My bitterness at candidate not going the distance, and 3. My difficulty separating phenomena. 4. And my encroaching fear and disappointment in the deeply flawed, sometimes barbaric institutions that are part of ‘the best of all the worst systems.’
If we can move on from theoretical discussions of crafting arguments and applying logic, to practical discussions of who Joe Biden will be as a national leader and what he seems to stand for. Did you see his 2012 debate with Paul Ryan? This defining moment, oddly enough, is being used as fodder by some really nefarious or really misguided individuals. ‘Joe is in end-stage cognitive decline!’ someone tweeted at me. ‘I’m questioning his mental health’ someone else said. Are these comments coming from a place of objective scrutiny, idle musing, concern for the well-being of the Commander in Chief — or is this a targeted campaign meant to sow doubt, discord, even fear about Biden’s abilities? This is what Cambridge Analytica did in concert with Trump and Russia in 2016. “Hillary is on death’s doorstep.” Remember?
“On Aug. 6, four days after Stone received the tip from his contact, the Trump campaign released a strange video on Facebook that claimed Clinton was “short-circuiting.” The video showed the candidate misspeaking during speeches, and compared her to a broken robot.
“The next day, Trump mentioned the video and raised questions about Clinton’s mental health during a rally, calling her “unhinged” and “unbalanced.” The following week, Trump said Clinton lacked “the physical and mental stamina” to fight the Islamic State.
“On Aug. 18, Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson lied on MSNBC by saying that Clinton had dysphasia, a brain disease that impairs speech.
“By the middle of August, the Washington Post was calling the claims about Clinton a “concerted effort” by Trump’s campaign “to pump up questions” about her health.
“Clinton’s campaign was forced to respond. On Aug. 16, it issued a statement that called the statements and rumors “deranged.” It included a note from Clinton’s doctor, Lisa Bardack, saying the candidate was in “excellent health.”
“Over the next weeks, the #HillaryHealth conspiracy theory became a major topic of the campaign, fanned by the fact that Clinton was reported to have pneumonia, and was seen almost fainting after attending a Sept. 11 memorial.
“Respected news outlets started covering the Democratic candidate’s health closely. The New York Times asked for the “full disclosure” of Clinton and Trump’s health records, and asked doctors to debate her health.”
- Luiz Romero (January 25, 2019)
We are dangerously close to repeating this. And regardless of your position, we should be very skeptical about the myriad posts alluding to or diagnosing the health of a political opponent.
In Conclusion: What does Biden bring to the table?
- Biden gives a damn about gun violence and gun control. Fred Guttenberg, father of Jamie (Parkland victim) speaks loudly and eloquently about his conversation with Joe in the wake of Jamie’s murder.
- Families who’ve lost loved ones in combat talk about who met them at the airport when the casket was flown home. Joe Biden.
- At a conference on suicide, Joe Biden spoke very personally of his own suicidal thoughts after the tragedies he experienced (his wife and infant’s deaths in a car crash) how he raised his boys — two men with their own flaws — not because he was living the dream, but because he told himself, ‘I need to just get out of bed today and get through today…’
- On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, more than 80 scientists, including prominent climate experts, published an open letter endorsing Joe Biden.
- His record on civil rights, which much has been made of— and while he is not Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders in terms of rhetoric or vision, he has DONE more — and is light-years ahead of not only his opponent but much of America. This month, Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon Joe Lewis said: “We need Joe Biden now, more than ever before.”
And — and this matters a lot — Biden supports a woman’s right to choose. Three things he has actually done and is proud of? Writing the Violence Against Women Act, pushing for women to have a role in the military, and helping pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. While the current administration wows with their rollback of women’s rights, especially the rights of poor women and women of color, in June of 2019, he called for enshrining Roe v. Wade in federal law. “What we should be doing is investing a great deal more money in the entirety of how we deal with women’s health care and making it available across the spectrum,” he said.
Has he had votes that were bad, objectively? Yes. Has he said things that were flat out wrong? Yes. Is he a bad dude? No. He isn’t. I think he’s actually a pretty damn awesome dude. I think he has done more good, contributed more service and love and compassion and hands-on work than many of us will ever hope to. He’s also a level, calming presence on Twitter. And he doesn’t want to “Build the Wall!” I’m OK with that.
“On his fondest memory of his 1967 Corvette 327 ragtop, which was a wedding gift from his father when he married Neilia Hunter: “I’m gonna embarrass Hunt: My fondest memory of that Corvette, I guess he was a little over three years old. You were sitting on my lap while I was driving — I know it’s bizarre now to say that. We lived out in a rural area, and we came to a stop sign on a country road. A beautiful day like today, and he’s sitting on my lap, and he turns around and puts his hand on my face and he says, ‘Daddy? Daddy? I love you more than the whole sky.’”
- from “Things My Father Taught Me,” Popular Mechanics, May 2016
We all want to elect a god. But people aren’t gods. They are humans. They are flawed. If Sanders or Warren or Bloomberg or Harris or Klobuchar or Buttigieg were the nominee we’d be doing a deep dive of their votes, marriages, previous marriages, financial transactions, truancy policies, weird poems, spouse’s misconduct, prosecutions, lack of national leadership or global experience, awkward dancing, and ethnic appropriations — and the supporters would have their rationales and the dissenters would have their pitchforks. Let’s take a different approach here. Amy Siskind writes: “I feel like I am reliving the nightmare of 2016, where the Democratic candidate is held to some impossible standard by our media and our base that the GOP candidate -Trump — is not. Please folks: our democracy and the soul of our country is on the ballot in 2020.”
I am voting FOR Joe Biden, not against D. Trump. (Though given his dictator-like, amoral approach to leadership, and given the fate of the Supreme Court and government offices, I don’t think that an anti-Trump or Trump-blocking vote is invalid.) I hope you’ll think about what world you want to wake up into on November 4 — and do what you need to do to make peace with your decision. I know this is a complicated, even hellish time. We have a leader who is lying about fatalities, who said “I don’t take responsibility at all,” who is blocking Dr. Fauci from testifying before the congressional probe of how his administration handled this tragedy. And because I think he is absolutely incapable of leading us out of this — and all we have is now — I wanted to put my thoughts down.
Shortly after Trump was elected I started hearing a line in my head. It’s from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. And it’s Mary Warren’s voice, saying to Elizabeth Proctor — and implying a kind of resignedness to their fate: “We must all love each other now.” I’ve found myself saying it again as of late. And while I feel somewhat of her mind, I’m going to do what I can to speak against authoritarian regimes, or simply against incompetent tools. (Sorry.)
Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar says: “There is still an opportunity to push forward the most progressive Democratic platform in history. In Barack Obama’s endorsement of Joe Biden, he said that he would not run on the same platform. ‘Because the world has changed, and we must as well.”
Peace. Love. Justice. Love. Peace. Love. Love. Love.