There’s a video of Lawrence O’Donnell, spokesperson for MSNBC, saying in 2020 what he’s paid to say, namely that electing a candidate with a platform you approve of is somehow in conflict with electing a candidate who can win. The logic of this is that most people are expected to vote for a candidate with a less desirable platform, which is only self-fulfilling if nobody shouts out that the hold-your-nose candidate has no clothes before a mysterious substance called “momentum” can be declared to exist and the candidate whom people actually prefer can be persuaded to give up.
There’s a video of Lawrence O’Donnell, years ago, saying something that would get him fired from MSNBC in a heartbeat:
If you want to pull the major party that is closest to the way you’re thinking to what you’re thinking you must show them that you’re capable of not voting for them. If you don’t show them that you’re capable of not voting for them, they don’t have to listen to you. I promise you that. I worked within the Democratic Party. I didn’t listen or have to listen to anything on the left while I was working in the Democratic Party because the left had nowhere to go.
Every four years in the United States since the time of the dinosaurs and Joe Biden’s full mental faculties, millions of people have volunteered for roles in the most often performed play in history. The tickets are free because nobody would pay a dime to see it twice and everybody’s seen it thousands of times. The play is a debate over whether to hold your nose and vote for some awful swamp creature or not.
This year was supposed to be different. I was going to vote for Bernie Sanders in the General Election, as I in fact did in the primary, not because I don’t have strong disagreements with him, but because his platform was so far superior to those of the other candidates as to really give meaning to the concept of “lesser evil.”
The endless arguments for lesser-evil voting that are part of the standard quadrennial performance make sense up to a point. I thought Bernie Sanders fell within that range in which they made sense.
In fact, as I explain at ridiculous length a ridiculous number of times every four years, my chief complaint with lesser-evilism in typical U.S. elections – elections without a candidate like Bernie Sanders in the big-two parties – is not that less evil isn’t less evil than more evil or that my brain simply doesn’t work. It’s that the value even of successfully electing a typical candidate who is in certain ways not as hideous as another candidate is outweighed by two factors. One is the giant diversion of resources away from activism and education and nonviolent strategies for political change and into the election. The other is the nearly universal practice of those who advocate less-evil voting of becoming cheerleaders for evil for periods of four years, not simply voters for it for one day.
Here’s a debate I had many elections back on this with Daniel Ellsberg.
People, with very few exceptions it seems, cannot do lesser-evil voting on a single day without having it take over their identity and influence their behavior. But even if they could, they’d still be telling Democrats: Do not bother with me, I’ll vote for you no matter what.
This could hardly be clearer than with Joe Biden.
If I go out today and advocate electing as U.S. president the neocon, corporatist, safety-net slashing, longtime racist, private health insurance promoting, war mongering, emoluments taking, opponent of public college education, enemy of major wealth taxes, champion of job-destroying corporate trade agreements, opponent of any serious green new deal, . . . the first question has to be: Yeah? Which one? Which of the two?
Here’s a graphic comparison of three candidates:
Here’s an informative video about Biden and the war on Iraq:
Here’s an example of how Biden has talked for years about Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare:
As David Sirota has noted, “Biden has worked with Republicans to push proposals to freeze Social Security funding, cut Social Security benefits and raise the Social Security retirement age. Biden has even been on the floor of the Senate giving speeches bragging that he tried to cut Social Security on four separate occasions.”
Here is Biden talking about his crime bill:
Bernie and Biden did not agree on the crime bill:
Bernie and Biden do not agree on corporate trade deals:
Here’s more from Biden in his own words.
This, too, is Biden in his own words:
Why why why why why you’re getting nervous man.
Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.
And cornpop was a bad dude and he ran a bunch of bad boys.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: all men and women are created by the ko you know the you know the thing.
You’re a lying dogfaced pony soldier.
I’m not sedentary I get up and let let let let them go let them go look the reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time.
And I said hey Ester off the board or I’ll come up and drag you off.
And I know more than most people know and I can get things done that’s why I’m running.
Let’s do push ups together let’s run let’s do whatever you want to do.
My greatest accomplishment is the 1994 crime bill.
You may cut me, man, but I’m gonna wrap this chain around your head.
I do not believe this is a rush to war, I believe it is a march to peace and security.
If you agree with me go to Joe three oh three three oh and help me in the fight.
Make sure the television excuse me make sure you have the record player on at night.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they had no background that enabled them to become socialized into the fabric of society.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re the victims of society.
In my judgment President Bush is right to be concerned about Saddam Hussein’s relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
I don’t think lesser evilists are evil. I don’t think they’re insane. I don’t think they’re failing to make an argument. I think they’re failing to recognize the side effects of the treatment they’re prescribing for our ills. I think that every four years we get two choices that are more evil than the time before. Here’s Trump four years the worse than last time, versus Biden who’s been repeatedly rejected in the past over his warmongering, corporate prostituting, and general lack of anything positive to offer. And the idea of changing society to get better choices while returning to lesser-evil voting at intervals is immensely impeded by what lesser-evil thinking does to its practitioners. They join the team. They self-censor. They slant. They become partisan. And activism and discourse and policy go down the tubes.
Lesser evilists do think non-lesser evilists are evil. They think they’re simply delicate souls who can’t touch dirt or negotiate or compromise. Bernie Sanders *was* my compromise. Bernie Sanders just backed a corporate bailout. Bernie Sanders has voted for numerous wars. Bernie Sanders thinks the F-35 is a humanitarian jobs program. The question is not whether to compromise. It’s whether to bow face-down in the mud, and whether doing so is strategically smart.
Well, if you shouldn’t vote for Biden, what should you do?
You should get active as an independent policy-based activist engaged in collective self-governance. You should make every possible use of local and state elections. You should move House candidates to commit now to a January 2021 impeachment of Trump for legitimate, non-Russiagating, indisputable charges from among the dozens that have long been ignored or new ones such as negligent killing through coronavirus. You should vote for Howie Hawkins or some other decent candidate or write in Bernie Sanders (whether he likes it or not).
Voting for Joe Biden or Donald Trump would be counter to the goals of every movement for peace, justice, and human and environmental survival.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and War Is a Crime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. Read other articles by David.