Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Four years ago, I announced my intent to vote Democratic, and humbly suggested that my American readers do the same. Today I repeat this request, but with a little less humility. I aim it specifically at those friends of mine who would never vote for Trump this year, but who view the Biden/Harris ticket — “an old white man and a cop” — with distaste.

Putting the positive assertion first: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are worthy of your vote. Biden, in particular, has put enormous energy over the summer and into the fall to demonstrate his sympathetic understanding of the country’s most pressing social and environmental issues, including racial justice, pandemic response, and climate-change mitigation. His party acceptance speech, centering on grief, describes the correct place that we will need rebuild from after four nightmarish years of loss and pain. Comprising itself from a broad coalition of American leadership, a diverse Biden administration would represent our best hope for a free future.

Every American of voting age who desires this future must now put a little effort into making it real.

Today calls each of us to lend all the muscle we can into wrenching the levers of power away from Donald Trump and his zombified Republican party. We all know they will very literally stop at nothing to hold onto it, and we know this because they we can see them constructing an anti-democracy machine in broad daylight, right now. To stop this machine, we must make our collective voice as large and as loud as possible, using our votes. The more lopsided we make this election’s results, the better chance we have of gummming up Trump’s contemptible machinations against American democracy before they can wreak terrible and lasting damage.

After we do democratically defeat the Republicans through overwhelming numbers, we must scatter them. We have to immediately take steps to buy America time: this might mean dismantling the electoral college, reversing gerrymandering, packing the Supreme Court with uncorrupted justices, or anything else necessary to forever drain the Republican party of its voice and power. With some breathing room thus established, the nation can turn to pass all the social and environmental legislation it needs to survive — and assist the whole world in surviving — the coming global challenges.

From there, the country can proceed to politically redefine itself, perhaps allowing the Democrats to formally split into separate progressive and conservative parties (and allowing the latter to absorb any ex-Republicans showing an ounce of remorse), both willing to face the coming challenges instead of denying them. Try to envision a future national election whose ballot contains more than one viable candidate whose victory you would accept! That’s the future I want us aimed at.

This leads to my negative assertion, which I know some of you will take issue with: Any action other than voting for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates directly supports permanent white-nationalist minority rule over America.

Yes, this includes abstaining from the vote altogether, or voting third-party.

I sympathize with the frustration inherent with living in a two-party state, today. I understand the drive to vote for one’s heart by ticking the box beside — or even writing in — the name of a candidate who most thoroughly represents you and your desires, even if they have negligible chance of winning. It feels good and fulfilling to listen to your heart, when it comes to political action.

However, the choice you make when voting should come from a different place than the more personal choices you make in political volunteering, donations, or direct action. Voting is a time to show up and do the work cut out for you. In this case, that means selecting which of the two viable candidates serves as the better approximation for the future you wish America to move towards.

I have seen one wise person invite their readership to think of elections as public transportation. You don’t refuse to board a bus just because it doesn’t literally take you right to your doorstep; you still use the route that gets you to the right vicinity. A compromise with all your neighbors, in order to get the most people more or less where they need to go.

And, friend, it’s so important that you get on this bus with me. If we don’t do this together, I’m not sure we’ll ever get home again.

Here is how to register (or check your registration) and vote in your state. Compared to past elections, you likely have an expanded ability to vote early, or by mail. If so, please consider casting your vote as soon as possible.

Here is how to become a poll worker in your state. American poll workers are traditionally elderly retirees — the population most at-risk from Covid-19. With this year’s expected high turnout, your state is likely in desperate need for more help, especially from younger people. Please consider signing up as a poll worker, if you can.

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