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Fifty-five progressive writers and activists sign an open letter to 2020 voters.
Many people, both on the left and more mainstream, are now discussing preparations for the very real possibility that Donald Trump will dispute the results of the election after he has lost. Such concerns are well-founded. But such concerns should not obscure the most urgent task—defeating Trump in the election with as big an Electoral College margin as possible, to undermine his predictable efforts to steal the election.
How does Trump lose? Trump loses only if Biden, however distasteful he may be, wins.
And how does Biden win? Biden wins if he gets more votes than Trump in swing states so that his Electoral College count is higher than Trump’s.
The Electoral College should be gone. Electoral coercion, manipulation and misdirection should be gone. The need to purchase visibility should be gone. The Democratic Party candidate should be Bernie Sanders or whoever would inspire your positive support. But none of that will happen by Election Day.
So it undeniably comes down to this—help Biden or increase the risk that Trump wins.
And what helps elect Biden?
Voting for Biden all over helps ward off post-election Trumpian tactics. Voting for Biden in swing states is essential.
Protestations that Biden is beholden to elites are true but beside the point. The lesser evil is evil, but in this case, the greater evil is simply off the charts.
Claims that not voting sends a message are true. But the message that not voting in swing states sends in 2020 is that we are okay with Trump for four more years as long as we don’t have to sully our hands by voting for Biden.
Claims that more votes for the Green Party’s or any other third party’s presidential candidate are necessary to win long-term progressive goals ignore the many ways that Trump’s re-election—with his climate policies, his nuclear weapons policies, his undermining of democracy and the courts, and his racism and sexism—would obstruct all positive social change.
Imagine it is late November. The mail votes are finally all counted. Everything is tallied. And Trump has scored an Electoral College victory. That is what not voting for Biden in swing states risks. It is what not advocating we should vote for Biden in swing states risks.
Ending the Trump presidency is, by far, the most important goal that can be achieved between now and January.
Not voting for Biden in swing states won’t bring on a revolution. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not make anyone the slightest bit more progressive, radical, or revolutionary. Not voting for Biden in swing states will not grow or solidify the ranks of opposition. But not voting for Biden in swing states risks immeasurably enlarging the obstacles that opposition will thereafter face.
So, it comes down to this. Dump Trump, Then Battle Biden. Vote for Biden at least in swing states—and urge others to do so as well. And then get on with building grassroots movements for ongoing fundamental change.
[Organizations listed for purposes of identification only.]
Aisha Jumaan, epidemiologist and health activist
Amar Shergill, chair Progressive Caucus of Calif. Dem. Party
Andrej Grubacic, anarchist writer, activist, CIIS, Collective 20
Ann Ferguson, women, gender, sexuality studies, activist
Avi Chomsky, writer, activist, Salem State
Barbara Ehrenreich, author, journalist
Bill Fletcher Jr., writer, TransAfrica Forum, trade unionist
Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams, Ethics In Tech, SF Berniecrats, Collective 20
Charles Lenchner, digital media, People for Bernie
Cornel West, writer, activist, Harvard Divinity School
Cynthia Peters, The Change Agent, City Life/Vida Urbana, Collective 20
Dan La Botz, New Politics, DSA
David Barsamian, Alternative Radio
Doug Henwood, economic journalist, LBO, KPFK’s “Behind the News”
Doug Pagitt, Vote Common Good
Elena Herrada, Radio host “Beloved Detroit,” activist, Collective 20
Gar Alperovitz, writer, historian, Democracy Collaborative
Gregory Wilpert, writer, activist
Hassan El-Tayyab, peace activist, songwriter, author, FCNL lead lobbyist
Jeff Cohen, writer, RootsAction.org, FAIR founder
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Baptist preacher, moral activist
Joseph Gerson, writer, International Peace Bureau
Juliet Schor, sociology, Boston College
Karen Bernal, former chair Progressive Caucus of Calif. Dem. Party
Kathy Kelly, activist, author, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Kim Scipes, professor, USMC veteran
Leslie Cagan, social justice organizer and writer
Linda Gordon, historian, author, “The Second Coming of the KKK”
Liza Featherstone, feminist journalist, “Divining Desire,” Nation contributing editor
Lydia Sargent, author, Z Communications
Marina Sitrin, writer, activist, Binghamton
Marjorie Cohn, activist, scholar
Medea Benjamin, author, CodePink, Collective 20
Michael Albert, writer, Z Communications, RevolutionZ, Collective 20
Nanette Funk, writer, Brooklyn College
Noam Chomsky, writer, Collective 20
Norman Solomon, author, “War Made Easy,” RootsAction.org
Oscar Chacon, Salvadoran immigrant, organizer, Collective 20
Paul Ortiz, historian, “Emancipation Betrayed,” Collective 20, University of Florida
Peter Bohmer, writer, activist, Evergreen, Economics for Everyone, Collective 20
Peter Kuznick, writer, historian, “Untold History of the United States,” American University
Robert McChesney, author on media and political economy
Robin Hahnel, author, activist, American University, Portland State University
Sandy Carter writer, activist
Savvina Chowdhury, political and feminist econ, Evergreen State College, Collective 20
Shane Claiborne, author, activist
Sherry Baron, DSA
Sonali Kolhatkar, writer, host of “Rising Up With Sonali” Radio/TV
Stephen Shalom, writer, activist, New Politics
Steve Early, writer, labor activist, NewsGuild/CWA
Suzanne Gordon, journalist, author, healthcare reform advocate
Ted Glick, climate activist, author “Burglar for Peace”
Victor Wallis, author, “Red-Green Revolution”
Vincent Emanuele, writer, activist, organizer, combat veteran, Collective 20
Winnie Wong, organizer, People for Bernie, former senior adviser Bernie 2020
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of many books and articles on international affairs and social-political issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements. His most recent books include: Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books, the American Empire Project, 2016); Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire (with interviewer David Barsamian); Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions; Empire and Resistance, Hopes and Prospects; and Profit Over People: Neoliberalism & Global Order. Previous books include: 9-11: 10th Anniversary Edition, Failed States, What We Say Goes (with David Barsamian), Hegemony or Survival, and the Essential Chomsky.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation. She won the 2004 Puffin/Nation Prize. Her seventeenth book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America(Metropolitan Books), has just been published. Her bestselling book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, 10th Anniversary Edition, has just been released by Picador Books.
Sonali Kolhatkar is a columnist for Truthdig. She also is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV (Dish Network, DirecTV, Roku) and Pacifica stations KPFK, KPFA, and affiliates. She is the former founder, host and producer of KPFK Pacifica’s popular morning drive-time program “Uprising.” She is also the co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a U.S.-based non-profit solidarity organization that funds the social, political, and humanitarian projects of RAWA. She is the author, with James Ingalls, of “Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence” (2006).
Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts. Her most recent book is Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth (The Penguin Press 2010). She is also author of the national best-seller, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (Basic Books, 1992) and The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need (Basic Books, 1998). Her other writings are available on her website, Plenitude – the Blog.
Convincing myself to vote for Biden is like pulling all my teeth out: I detest him and the whole neoliberal, austerity agenda he represents. I detest Trump and the Republicans’ brazen criminality even more, though I feel great sympathy for a lot of Trump’s supporters, who are rightly outraged that they, like the rest of us, have been totally betrayed by both parties since Reagan’s trickle-down revolution started hollowing out and financializing the economy.
I don’t believe that Biden will reverse the country’s slide toward all-encompassing surveillance and monopolistic control; I greatly fear that four years of corporatist Democratic rule will lead to an even worse version of Trump. But I will, VERY reluctantly, take these people’s advice and cast a vote for Biden on election day.
What’s more, I’ll do it in person. My primary ballot for Sanders never got to my county elections board, according to their website. Funny–that’s the only piece of mail I’ve ever sent that’s been “lost.”
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Thanks, John. Biden is not my candidate of choice either, but he seems like a decent man with a long history of service, and he is NOT TRUMP.
That’s the most sensible and true thing I’ve read in some time now. Yes, you may not like Biden. I don’t particularly care for him, but I’d take him any day over Dump and his minions. Win this battle first, then you have an actual fighting chance to get the rest going. Hell, Obama changed his stance on a few things after some time in the office, dealing with dems and others not in his line. Biden can, too, and he’s gonna be surrounded by even more movers and shakers than Obama ever was. We need to shift the whole country left in that Overton window. We’re too far down the path toward a paranoid religious state. Make America Sane(r) Again.
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Yes — Make America Sane(r) Again.
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I am grateful to Chomsky, Ehrenrecih et al. for raising their voices on this matter. I could not agree more! Not voting for Joe won’t bring on the revolution, but a fascist police state. Vote the lesser of two evils. The future of (what little is left of) American democracy is at stake.
Thanks, Dan. I agree. — MS
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