With the news that Bernie is officially out of the running for president, it seems that our choice for president has gone from one of Three Very Old White Men, to now having to choose between Two Very Old White Men Who Have Both Been Credibly Accused Of Sexual Assault. If you are unaware, Joe Biden has been accused by a woman named Tara Reade of sexually assaulting her while she worked as a staffer for the then Senator in 1993 (you can read about it HERE, or listen to her interview HERE). The Biden campaign has said the allegations are false, and journalists have pointed out that as recently as 2019, Ms. Reade wrote articles (in both English and Russian) praising and declaring her love for Russia, writing, “I love Russia with all my heart … President Putin scares the power elite in America because he is a compassionate, caring, visionary leader,” apparently implying that she is a Russian plant. She has since deleted the pro-Russian Medium articles she wrote, but you can still see archived screen captures HERE. In March of 2019, she downplayed Russia’s involvement in our elections, said we Americans should move on from the Mueller Report, and wrote, “If you want to get my vote? Leave Russia alone.” One month later, she came forward with allegations against Joe Biden, but her recent interview brought these allegations again into the national spotlight.
And now that Bernie Sanders is out of the race, his disappointed supporters are pushing this narrative of “Having to choose between two rapists” very, very hard. But it’s not just angry “Bernie Bros” who are suddenly upset by these allegations… Many women and survivors of sexual assault are rightly angry at being put in this gross position, as is perfectly articulated here:
I am ALSO angry at being put in the position of having to choose between two men who have been credibly accused of sexual assault. Despite Tara Reade’s affection for Russia & the implications that carries, I believe her. One of the things that makes her story more believable is that she told a friend and her brother right after it happened. Her brother advised her to “let it go, move on, guys are idiots.” Do I believe it’s possible for a 51 year old U.S. Senator to grope a young staffer who he thought “liked” him? Of course I do. Joe Biden is 77 years old. He had been a senator for 21 YEARS at that point. He grew up in the “Mad Men” era. He is a relic of a shittier, way more sexist time. He was a senator for 36 years and a Vice President for 8… Over that time, he has done many things worthy of criticism. In the 70s, Joe Biden was one of the biggest opponents of bussing designed to desegregate schools. During the Clarence Thomas hearings, he mishandled Anita Hill’s testimony, and refused to other witnesses to testify on her behalf. He was involved with crime bills that were SO harmful to black communities.
He also did a lot of good. He is almost universally liked… You’d be hard pressed to find colleagues who have bad things to say about him. He did not buy his way into his position, and he wasn’t corrupt… For 30 years he was ranked as one of the least wealthy members of the Senate. He helped get the Assault Weapons Ban passed, and he also was responsible for the Violence Against Women Act, which helped protect women from domestic violence. He listens to people, he is able to change his mind, and he is widely regarded as a good, decent person.
It’s very hard to reconcile that Joe Biden with the one who allegedly kissed and groped a staffer 37 years ago. There have been other women who have reported uncomfortable and inappropriate touching… Though nothing like what is described by Tara Reade. More of a “touchy/feely” guy who didn’t understand that times and social mores had changed, and his “hands on” habits were now coming across as just plain creepy.
I long for the day when the choice isn’t between a white man in his late 70s and another white man in his late 70s, each vying for the opportunity to run against yet another white man in his mid 70s. Can we make that happen, America?
So… A few things before I go on: First let me say I understand the deep disappointment that Bernie supporters are feeling. I would have much rather had Bernie than Biden. Four years ago, I was in the same position. I voted for Bernie in the primary. I thought he was a better candidate than Hillary, less connected to Wall Street, and more likely to change things to help the poor in this country. And despite my disappointment with him losing the primary, I rallied behind Clinton… Because she was just exponentially smarter, kinder, and more qualified than trump. And because, unlike trump, she wasn’t a lying, racist, fascist, pussy-grabbing moron with delusions of grandeur and authoritarian plans for becoming a tiny-handed despot. I believed Bernie was better than Hillary, but also that Hillary was SO MUCH BETTER than donald trump that, for me, the choice was clear. And I tried to make that case to others… That a flawed candidate who doesn’t totally represent my political beliefs is a much better choice than a dangerous, destructive, delusional candidate who daily attacks any idea of Truth, Decency, or Goodness. So I voted for someone who wasn’t my first choice in order to try to protect us from a dishonest, white supremacist monster.
Many people will find themselves in a similar position this year — choosing between someone who doesn’t inspire you or particularly embrace the positions you value (like Medicare For All, free college, or tackling income inequality)… Or choosing the LITERAL WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD. A lot of people are still disgruntled about 2016, where they felt like they had to set aside their integrity & vote for the lesser of two evils, she received 3 million more votes than him, and the worst person in the world STILL won. And now they are like, “Screw it, I’m voting third party.” Please let me explain why that plan is going to result in another four years of orange Shitler…
There are a HUGE group of people who are so utterly hopeless and disaffected by the horror show that is our electoral process, that they are not even willing to take the time to cast a ballot. They look at things at think “What difference does it make?” and they stay home. In the last election, that was 44.3% of eligible voters (about 111,000,000 people in the 2016 election). But there are ALSO a portion of people who realize that people actually DIED to give them the right to vote, and they take that right very seriously. They realize that — even though our system is flawed — the only way to change things is by taking part in our democracy.
Of those people who value the right to vote and realize that change happens slowly, there are a group of people in this country who are so far gone that they actually think donald trump is a good leader (I’m done capitalizing his name). There is no rational argument that is going to sway someone who looks at a person like donald trump and thinks, “That’s the guy for me.” They are a coalition comprised of confused evangelical one-issue voters who somehow can’t see that trump is as far away from Jesus as anyone on the planet… mixed with angry white folks who can feel their privilege slipping away and long for America to be “great” again — meaning going back to a time when their whiteness meant RESPECT, dammit! These are folks who embrace the word “deplorable,” and revel in saying things that show a lack of consideration & respect for groups who are vulnerable and oppressed.
THEN there are a portion of people who can clearly see that Donald is a danger to democracy, he is an international embarrassment, and his stupidity, narcissism, and false bravado have cost countless lives. If THIS group gets split, Donald Trump wins. Because the people who are supporting him through the “pussy-grabbing,” through the mocking of a disabled reporter, through the paying a porn star for her sex and her silence, through “I’d like you to do us a favor, though,” and especially through the incompetent response to COVID-19 which is costing tens of thousands of people their lives, as well as MILLIONS of people (like me) their jobs, while doing incredible harm to the economy… THOSE people are not going to hear something new which makes them suddenly realize they shouldn’t be supporting this moronic monster.
Listen — If you are rational enough to know that Joe Biden is a very flawed candidate… If you are rational enough to know that there were many better democratic choices… If you are rational enough to know that donald trump is an epically awful human being who is a legitimate threat to this democracy… Then you are hopefully also rational enough to understand why defeating deranged donald is infinitely more important than strict adherence to any sort of ideological purity test. Think — JUST THINK — about the ways he has brazenly lied over the past four years… Think about the ways he has attacked democratic norms… Think about the ways he disregards the rule of law and the separation of powers… HE DID ALL OF THIS WHILE HE WAS STILL FACING AN UPCOMING REELECTION! Imagine the kind of shit he will try to pull if he knows there is not another election he needs to worry about.
Now we have many Bernie supporters blaming Elizabeth Warren for this, which is totally ludicrous. Bernie Sanders lost because — once again — he couldn’t connect with black voters. He should have learned four years ago that this needed to be his focus… Instead, he put his hopes on young people showing up in numbers that they historically NEVER show up in during primary elections… He didn’t go to the Selma Anniversary… He went on freaking Joe Rogan to accept an endorsement. And now many are talking about how people should “vote their conscience” in the general election. But we already HAVE an election where people are supposed to vote their conscience and pick the person they want the most (rather than the one who is going to do the least amount of harm): IT’S CALLED THE PRIMARY. We’ve got Bernie supporters talking about voting third party, while many are angry at Warren for splitting the vote and giving us Biden as a candidate. Now those same folks are planning on splitting a vote that will result in another four years of trump… Do none of these people understand irony? Besides, maybe if Bernie had rallied his supporters around Warren, we’d be looking at HER candidacy… Though I get the idea that many of his supporters are not exactly feminists.
PLEASE HEAR ME: One of TWO candidates are going to win this election. Voting for a third party candidate is exactly as effective as not voting or writing in “Unicorn McSparkleface.” And the frustrating thing is that the folks deciding on “sitting this one out” or “voting third party” are comprised almost entirely of people who do not feel directly threatened by trump’s harmful policies and actions. We can either unite around a flawed candidate in opposition to the worst person in the world, or we can look forward to another four years of an open assault on the things that actually make America “great.”
That man is DANGEROUS. His incompetence has already cost America over 16,500 lives, and by the time this pandemic is over, the deaths his stupidity & arrogance have caused will be measured in the HUNDRED OF THOUSANDS. Think of another four years of a trump administration denying the reality of climate change, attacking the environment, and loosening regulations designed to combat that global danger. He has — MULTIPLE TIMES — “joked” and hinted at trying to change the laws to allow him to serve more than two terms. There is no guarantee that, if he loses this next election, he won’t just say it was “rigged” and declare it illegitimate.
Now is not the time for ideological purity. The political right are not constrained by any sort of ideological purity test… Good Lord, they rallied around a person who is OBJECTIVELY — and I mean by just about any rational measure — one of the most horribly broken, dishonest, morally repugnant people who has ever walked the earth. Joe Biden is the choice of the overwhelming majority of black folks in the United States, and that MEANS something to me, even if I don’t agree with or fully understand their choice. What I am NOT saying here is that I have a clear conscience about voting for a dude who just got #TimesUp’d… I’m making a rational argument based on a pragmatic case for prioritizing trump’s removal from office over the warm feeling we get from a person passing our personal political purity tests.
There are some things that need to change in this country… Things that another 4 years of trump or another conservative SCOTUS Justice is going to delay for GENERATIONS. The Electoral College is a relic of a time when slave owners and land owners wanted more of a say in government than actual democracy allowed them. And now we have candidates losing elections by 3 million votes, but still winning the election. Changing something like this is going to require electing leaders who believe their duty is to serve THE PEOPLE instead of serving corporations and billionaire donors. We need to overturn Citizens United, and get big money out of elections… That is not going to happen with trump choosing Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement. There are fairer, more equitable ways to do elections (like Ranked Choice Voting, which you can learn about below).
Lastly, I just want to say that I cannot imagine being a survivor of sexual assault and feeling forced to choose a man who has been accused of sexual assault because he’s “a better choice” than the man who has been credibly accused of sexual assault by more than 20 women… Even dismissing his accusers as being too ugly for him to assault. If that is you, and after researching the accusations against Joe Biden, you decide that giving him your vote is a bridge too far, I totally understand your decision. If voting for him feels like harm for you, then take care of yourself. As much as I am able to get it, I do. Vote down ballot elections? I don’t know… But as for the Bernie supporters who now want to Bern it all down, y’all have been talking about #NotMeUs for a while now… Now’s the time to live that out. As far as MY vote is concerned, I wish things were different, but we play the hand we’re dealt. Joe Biden has my vote.
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