Make Sure You Vote!


          A short while ago, a white woman in her thirties told me, “It it’s Biden, I’m not going to vote.”  I tried arguing with her, saying that Trump was much worse than Biden, but I got nowhere.  She maintained that both of them supported corporate capitalism and that if Biden were president, nothing would change.  I was very upset with her, but then I remembered that I had done exactly the same thing she was advocating.

         Back in 1968, I could not bring myself to vote for the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey, to be president.  Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson’s vice-president, had supported the Vietnam war, which I’d marched against for years.  Nor did he repudiate the dreadful police riots in Chicago against peaceful demonstrators at the Democratic Convention.  So I voted for Eldridge Cleaver, the Black Panther who ran on the Peace and Freedom ticket.  Cleaver had no chance of winning, but this action made me feel righteous.  However by doing it, I helped make Richard Nixon president – an outcome I deplored. 

         I felt guilty about this action of mine for years.  I never believed that Humphrey was nearly as bad as Nixon.  Nixon’s presidency was a national disaster, culminating in Watergate.  Nor do I believe that Nixon was nearly as bad as Donald Trump is, although there are interesting parallels between them.  In both Watergate and Trump’s attempt to get the president of Ukraine to give him dirt on Biden, the cover-ups are almost worse than the actions. 

Just as Humphrey was superior to Nixon, so Biden is far better than Trump.  Equating the two, for whatever reasons, is a false and dangerous identification.  It could make Trump president for a second term, further eroding democracy in the United States.

         Some people believe that evil-doers should be allowed to obtain power, because then voters will see how dreadful they are and revolt against them.  This tactic was tried in Weimar Germany in the early 1930s.  Some members of the powerful German Socialist Party advocated this strategy against the Nazis, calling it “Socialist Defeatism.”  I think we all know how that turned out.

         In conclusion, it’s vitally important to vote – even if the candidate isn’t your favorite, even if you object to some of their views or positions, even if you don’t like him or her.  The alternative is so much worse.