We truly must vote. If everyone voted, the voice and climate of America would truly be visible. And the fear-mongering of Trump’s Republicans would seem so small, as it seems truly that they are a loud minority as opposed to a silent majority. The landscape of America is much different than our voting records make it seem.
1. We need to vote to support our down-ballot candidates.
Meaningful change so often happens more through local government in this country, and once the majority is so blatant that it can’t be ignored, official federal legislation follows. This isn’t even all bad—this is to say that occasionally, the will of people does show through. Sometimes, the progressive states, leaders, and cities show the way in a real and genuine way. This is how gay marriage went from illegal to federally accepted in under 10 years. First the progressive states paved the way, then others followed until it was widely accepted. The same has seemingly happened with marijuana, and now even the path towards a 15-dollar minimum wage is being blazed in much the same way, following Seattle’s lead.
2. The Supreme Court.
This one goes without saying and has become widely understood at this point. But the battle for our rights and justices is intricately connected to the Supreme Court. Regardless of how the system should work, this is what we are faced with, and this is what we must work within right now in order to effect and maintain the rights that we need to maintain. It’s unclear exactly how attempts to block the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett will pan out, but either way, this is such a vital cause to vote for.
3. To halt the narrative that “young people” and “progressives” don’t show up.
This is a clear manipulation of facts and doesn’t take into account voter suppression in all the ways it manifests—purging voter rolls, not counting provisional ballots, removing polling places or limiting access, gerrymandering, and more. Regardless of voter suppression and disenfranchisement of young, poor, and largely progressive voters, young people must also combat the disillusionment that they rightfully feel with our system and show up in mass numbers so that we cannot continue to be dismissed by the narrative at large.
4. To stop giving Trump’s fear-mongering and violent rhetoric a platform.
This man encourages violent rhetoric in a way that simply crosses over the line from being a problematic politician to being outright dangerous to our American climate. Regardless of anything else, anything at all, the permissive nature given towards the agitation of our already boiling civil unrest encourages violence in a way that simply cannot be tolerated. In the first presidential debate, he outright failed to denounce and condemn white supremacy. That alone is enough to vote against.
5. In the hopes that even one policy will be moved forward or back for the progressive movement, even slightly.
Let’s set our expectations realistically. Perhaps no grandiose change will happen in this particular and exact moment. Okay. Then moving from there, do we want a step back in policy or perhaps a slight tiptoe forward? Or at the very, very least, a halt in movement. No, we cannot afford it. Yes, we need huge changes to move forward and beat the climate change clock that is ticking, as just one of many issues. But the choice truly is between moving backward or tip-toeing forwards right now. Yes, I do want to start galloping and running at a full sprint, but that is not an option right now. We have a full body cast on right now, and we have to work with what we’ve got in the very present moment and then keep fighting for more.
Among so many devastating policies, the Trump administration has been terrible for the environment. This alone is enough to vote for. Not imagining that a Democratic establishment will immediately stop fracking and save the world, but that perhaps simply one policy might be rolled back or halted or one program that was canceled might get started back up again. If you care about the earth at all and our survival as a species—if you see the fires in California and Australia—voting for Biden is worth it on that alone. If you’ve seen these new headlines about forced hysterectomies on the border, then voting for Biden might be worth it on that alone, in the hopes that a democratic administration can roll back these atrocities to some degree at all. There are so many travesties happening that even just one change would be worth it.
We need to vote Joe Biden in, absolutely. Then we need to keep protesting, keep paying attention to issues over politicians, and keep fighting for the issues at hand. We need to articulate policy, elect leaders who can carry these policies forward, and recognize the whole moving machine as a functional (dysfunctional, rather) being and play all the hands we possibly can. Truly and bluntly, it comes down to we have no other choice right now, as liberals, progressives, or those without labels who disapprove of Trump. And at this point, the choice is not grandiose—it is not between this future and that future. The immediate future will be somewhat the same. But the things that are potentially changed are potentially life-changing and life-saving for those in need. And if that matters to you at all, vote. At this point, we need any positive change we can get, any at all. Perhaps it’s still nihilistic and grim-looking, but we need to at least try. Even just one policy change would be worth it. So that’s what you have to boil it down to. Even if Biden just rolls back one program or amends one policy in a positive way, that would be reason enough to vote for him and against Donald Trump.
There are amazing and inspiring young progressive politicians on the horizon, including Charles Booker and Cori Bush, former Black Lives Matter activists who got engaged with the political system and encouraged protestors to stay engaged. They encourage the disenfranchised to recognize that there’s a reason to vote—that some people will stand up for them (very few, but some will).
Get involved, get engaged, and find the people who are continuing to engage and support them. Take your anger, disillusionment, and fury with the system and use it as fuel. Keep fighting.