Why I Can’t Vote for Joe Biden

I’m a registered Democrat, a progressive and a democratic socialist who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, but I simply cannot bring myself to vote for Joe Biden. Here’s why.

While I recognize that Biden would certainly be a more stable president, and holds views that are generally closer to my own than Trump’s are, I don’t think he would be the kind of President our country needs right now. I know many people are focused on getting Trump out of office and I agree that he needs to go, but another four years of Clinton/Obama-like “moderate” politics that campaigns on progressive values only to govern as “a moderate Republican” will neither address the problems in our society that led to Trump’s rise, nor will it prevent another (more competent) far-right figure from rising to power in the wake of a lackluster Biden presidency. And I think that’s exactly the kind of president he would be; despite Biden’s recent rhetoric of potentially being “the most progressive president since FDR”, he emphatically told wealthy donors at a fundraiser in NYC earlier this year that “nothing will fundamentally change” if he’s elected, and that he’ll focus on working with Republicans to compromise. If Republicans are to the point where they won’t even support a conservative healthcare plan when it’s introduced by a Democratic president, and called the Affordable Care Act, then why would they ever support anything put forth by a Democratic president, especially something that’s actually progressive? Even on the issue that should be easiest for Democrats to outflank Trump on, coronavirus, the Biden campaign won’t commit to fighting for significant federal measures to stop the spread of the virus, like a nationwide mask mandate. Instead, they say they’ll rely on states to take action despite openly admitting that many won’t.

To summarize, the first reason I can’t vote for Biden is that he’s totally inadequate as a politician to meet this moment in our history. Secondly, because I refuse to participate in the continued right-ward shift of both major parties by voting for either of their candidates. The Republicans are as transactional and reactionary as they’ve been for decades, and the Democrats remain all too eager to capitulate and compromise for cheap points in the media cycle and to attract the attention of big donors. Meanwhile, none of the major problems exposed by the original Trump and Bernie campaigns has been or stands to be substantively addressed whether Trump or Biden wins. Don’t get me wrong, Biden may do some good things if he’s elected, but overall, it’s clear that he’s content to continue pursuing a corrupt, neoliberal project that seeks, more than anything, to maintain the status quo within American politics in order to preserve the interests of those who currently control the Democratic Party. This neoliberal, corporate ideology also seeks to prevent the Democratic Party from becoming a true progressive, populist party, and uses fear to prevent such a movement from taking shape outside the party. The only way in such a scenario to get politicians like Biden to accede to the demands of voters and halt the right-ward shift of American politics is to threaten to withhold the only two things politicians ultimately care about: our votes and our cash. We should be making the Democrats pander to the left during the general election out of fear of losing our votes, instead of “voting blue no matter who” and allowing them to endlessly pander to conservatives, as Biden has done.

Thirdly, Biden has made it clear that he doesn’t really want my vote, or the vote of anyone who even dares to entertain any kind of criticism of his record. In fact, Biden might be the only candidate for a major party ever to openly and repeatedly tell voters from his own party to “vote for someone else” when they questioned his record. This happened several times during the primary in response to questions from voters about Obama’s record, in regards to the deportations of high numbers of immigrants, as well as climate change. He even called one voter “fat” and challenged him to a push-up contest, and called another “a damned liar.” If Trump had done any of those things, the media and Democrats would never have let us hear the end of it.

A core part of the tried-and-failed centrist strategy of the Democrats is that they do everything they can to appeal to Republicans during the general election, but they also apparently think this means they have to appear to have utter contempt for the people that actually constitute the active base of the party. This is probably why they also tend to govern like Republicans, but I digress. Because the two-party system forces voters to choose between “the lesser of two evils,” the two major parties are able to use fear to coerce voters into continuing to participate in a corrupt system by casting their ballot for either a Democrat or Republican, even if they don’t realistically expect anything to fundamentally improve about politics or society based on the outcome. And if anyone dares question what either party is actually using its power for, has used its power for or what it’s promising to do once power has been acquired, they’re attacked by loyal partisans as helping the other side. This is why I’ve moved away from the Democratic Party in recent years and plan on voting for the Green Party in 2020, and why I’ve become convinced we need to dismantle the two-party system by enacting ranked choice voting, abolishing the electoral college and supporting the Movement for a People’s Party.

Fourthly, Biden, like Trump, has been credibly accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Google “Tara Reade.”

Finally, despite all of this, Biden appears poised to win a significant victory in the election. I’m sure election night will be chaotic and Trump will claim the vote was rigged or something along those lines, but I truly have no doubt at this point that Biden will be sworn in as president come next year. Yes, I know the polls showed Hillary winning too, but the truth is Biden is up way more than Hillary ever could’ve dreamed. It’s not 2016 anymore, and people have had their fill of Trump. Biden will likely sweep many of the swing states in the overall count, but I don’t think he has a chance to win Missouri, where I’m registered, and frankly it’s not like he’s really tried to. In fact, some polls indicate that Biden has a better chance of winning Texas than he does Missouri. As a progressive Missourian, then, the best way for my vote to actually have an impact is to vote for the Green Party. The more votes a third-party gets now in the current system, the easier time they have getting on the ballot in the next election, and I think it’s important that we keep at least the possibility of voting for a progressive alternative to the Democrats and Republicans open for future elections. In addition, the Green Party platform is much more in line with my views overall, as they support ranked choice voting, Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.

In conclusion, if Biden had learned the lessons of the Obama years and was ready to come into power with a realistic plan to advance progressive legislation, I might support him. If the Democrats came out strongly in favor of a plan to abolish the electoral college and enact ranked choice voting in federal elections (thus eliminating their only argument as to why voting third-party is bad), I would support them if only so that all Americans could have greater choices in future elections. Unfortunately, it seems that Biden and the Democrats are content to go back to the way things were before Trump without actually addressing the corruption, economic inequality, hyper partisanship and systemic racism that allowed Trump to win. In terms of the progressive policies Biden claims he supports, most of them would require twisting arms on both sides in Congress in order to get controversial, progressive legislation passed and/or not capitulating to Republicans, which are two things we know Democrats hate doing. Look, I want to be excited for the Democratic candidate, but I’m just not. Instead of shaming voters for not liking Democrats or calling them privileged for not wanting to vote for Biden, maybe take a look at why people are fed up with the Democrats, and the system in general. There are reasons why some 40 percent of the voting age population chooses not to vote at all, disproportionately among them people with lower incomes, young people and people of color. Non-voters as a group are some of the least privileged people in society; what is privileged is thinking that the way America was before Trump was acceptable.