Why ‘Vote Blue No Matter What” Isn’t Me (and isn’t progressive)
After feeling like I wasn’t super clear the other day discussing politics, I gave myself 10 minutes to write something to try to be more clear about my position. I used 6 minutes and decided to not proofread bc I am super important and need to unpack.
I also want to say I respect the opinions of all of you, and I learn from our discussions and thank those willing to engage. (And, to those who don’t mute me and just let me chat, thanks you as well).
Please judge this, if you read, on the 6-minute effort it was, and as always, thoughts and disagreements encouraged!!
Here it goes:
As I waiver between obsessing over the social responses to COVID-19 (we humans are wild!) and the primary race (also wild!), I could not help but notice two things that I thought might help illuminate why I am not and will not be a ‘vote blue no matter what person’ and why I think we are fundamentally shooting ourselves in the foot as a Democratic Party if we once again nominate a neoliberal centrist (regardless of his questionable mental acuity).
First, if we say ‘vote blue no matter what’ we are allowing the Democratic Party, which has protected corporate interests over the interests of its constituents for far too long, to continue doing so without consequence. They can move to the middle (they are) without fear of losing progressive votes. And, if they lose our votes, they blame progressives for actually having principles rather than blaming themselves for not putting forth a platform that the party can rally behind. Thus, I am undecided whether I will vote for the Democratic candidate in the general election.
Now some of you will say, wait a second, we are in a crisis of Donald Trump, and we have to get him out! Then we will make real change! To be sure, Trump is unique and blatantly awful in some ways. He refuses to go along with the normal set of rules and puts his policies — which I abhor — along with the beliefs that undergird them — also abhorrent — out in the open. But, his policies themselves are not uniquely awful. We have long had awful policies. Yes, putting children in cages is horrendous, but we do not even know how many children and other civilians were killed by our Bush and later Obama-led wars in the Middle East. Not in the hundreds, in the tens of thousands. (The Iraq Body Count project documents 183,348–205,908 violent civilian deaths through April 2019, but estimates are disputed.)
So, my point is THIS IS NOT A UNIQUELY AWFUL MOMENT. WE ARE ALWAYS IN CRISES! Bush was a crisis; Reagan was a crisis; Trump is uniquely open about his incompetence in a way that Bush wasn’t and is uniquely offensive in his willingness to actually say the rationale for these policies we make out loud, but his policies themselves are NOT uniquely awful. Nixon was corrupt; Bush and Chaney were horribly corrupt — and played on our reactions to 9/11 to get us into a war in Iraq for regime change for $. We are kidding ourselves if we think that there is a normal to go back to after Trump. Our normal IS NOT OKAY; our normal is a CRISIS. Our normal involves oversee wars with no end in sight and no clear purpose (lining the pockets of those in the military industrial complex and misusing funds and human labor that could be used to rebuild infrastructure, built homes and shelters for the disadvantaged, prepare for pandemics and disasters, etc); sick without health insurance; poverty and violence; excessive and disgusting inequality.
Second, not only are we always in a crisis, they are crises that are of our own making! We have the money to fix these crises; to have social supports, clean energy, healthcare for all. Healthcare is a right, like having fire fighters, not a privilege. The medical industry should not be a for-profit industry; medical care should be free (taxpayer funded) and guaranteed; other countries do this well. I find it offensive that Biden thinks now, in a time of crisis, we can somehow magically make healthcare available for all for free for one specific illness, but for cancer, AIDS/HIV, mental health, etc. we can’t.
But, WE CAN DO THIS. It’s a failure in leadership, policy, and vision to think that all of us don’t all the time have a right to a system where we can get sick and we can get care without going bankrupt. Or that we can’t have sick leave. Or universal basic income. Or high quality, subsidized child care. WE CAN HAVE ALL OF THIS if we decide to actually organize our system around the collective good rather than the pursuit of profit. Sanders’ platform is based on this fundamentally humane idea. It is the most compassionate, caring, and only system consistent with the compassionate tenets of all major religious (that I understand). When we prioritize collective well-being over profit and individual selfish interests, we can offer everyone the opportunity to thrive.
Let’s not mobilize in a crisis to be the people that we can always be and then drop it. Let’s stop putting profits ahead of our collective well being. Let’s stop blaming others for their failures and recognize that given the chance we can all do better. Let’s stop demonizing others who look or act differently, are from a different place, hold different opinions, and so on. Most all of us are doing the best we can do. But, COLLECTIVELY, we can do so much better.
I know this. I have hope. And, because of this, I refuse to automatically align my vote with a supposedly leftist party who purports to represent the interests of everyone. We need healthcare for all, which will only work if we cut out the for-profit companies; we need a new infrastructure and new sources of clean energy — that will only work if we shift our priorities (labor, money, energy) away from military might and constant war to building OUR country and bettering OUR world with peaceful actions.
Democrats, you have to earn my vote if you want it. I dare you, and I hope you do. But, if you continue to put corporate profits ahead of people; if you continue to tweak environmental issues in the face of a climate disaster; if you continue to act as if the normal is okay; I cannot, in good conscience, be complicit in such policies.