Refusing to vote in the presidential election is dangerous

Refusing to vote in the presidential election is dangerous

I try not to use generalizations in my writing, but I do not mince words when I type: Voting for Joe Biden is the most important thing any citizen of the United States can do right now. With this sentence, I already anticipate the critiques that will be made by my leftist peers in their radicalized bubbles on Twitter, but I implore you to put down your phone, take a deep breath and read the rest of this before typing that I am some bourgeois Karen.

I have seen so many leftists post on their social media feeds that they are so disillusioned with the system that they intend not to vote in this election. I understand, as I first thought Biden was not even worth voting for when he announced his campaign run. However, I have since reflected that throwing away this vote would be an improvident mistake as in this election a vote for Biden is ultimately a vote against Trump. I have voted for Biden not because of hero-worship, but rather, as a utilitarian calculation.

Now some might say that “Biden is no better than Trump,” as the Democratic party has a ceremonial façade of meaningless liberal civility, to which I respond: Yes, that veneer within the Democratic party that is used to hide their own complicity is deplorable, but it is simply not true that they are the same. This same argument was made back in 2016, and I can unequivocally say that Hillary would not have filled the Supreme Court with anti-abortion fanatics, withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, trivialized a deadly pandemic and dozens of other abysmal acts that the current administration has enacted. I fully anticipate that if Joe Biden wins the race that I will protest the administration that I voted for because I want more than rainbow capitalism and symbolic gestures. The fact of the matter is that Biden is much more likely to listen to the demands of protesters in comparison to Trump. Biden has changed his policies concerning climate change and racial inequities within the criminal justice system due to criticism he has received while Trump has promised to double down on “law and order.” Biden has proved that, despite his problematic history, he can and will evolve his stances if it means that he is in power and Trump isn’t. What Biden is promising is in no way good enough, but it is a start, especially in comparison to Trump.

A problem that I frequently see in leftist circles is that perfect becomes the enemy of the good or in this case the “better than a fascist.” Of course, you need to participate in protests, mutual aid and unionization in addition to voting because ultimately, it matters who is sitting on the Supreme Court or organizing national responses to a pandemic. I am not telling you to vote and then simply go to brunch while ignoring the lamentable actions that are occurring in the world, and yes, there is so much wrong with our elections such as gerrymandering, the electoral college, big campaign donors, voter suppression and much more, but this form of “protest” is completely inefficacious to making any sort of change. Yes, voting is boring and it’s for “normies” as it is inherently incrementalist. All of these leftist nonvoters are posturing as they are trying to prove that they are edgier than their parents and their liberal normie peers. They feel the need to prove that they know all about the corrupt system while they just sit there and shitpost about people trying to accomplish the little that can actually be accomplished.

I know voting is a part of a problematic colonial capitalist system, but this economic system is an epochal world order that came into place over a couple of hundred years ago and will not change because you refused to participate. So much is at stake on the ballot during this election, including but not limited to funding for the WHO, Palestinian self-governance, climate change legislation, bodily autonomy and access to reproductive healthcare, confirmed support of NATO, penalization of China’s genocide against Uighur Muslims and banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants. Too much is on the line for stubborn leftists to advocate for or condone people refusing to vote due to self-righteous purity tests within politics.

Voting is not a cure-all to the problems in the world; rather, it is the first step in enacting change. Protests, mutual aid, unionization and leftist buzz words are not able to promote lasting change if we do not support local political campaigns and politicians, if we continue to have no accountability for cops, if we have a Congress that refuses to listen to their constituents, if we have an unrepresentative judicial branch and if we have a fascist in the white house. In conclusion, do not try to be edgy by not voting.