Not Voting is Your Worst Possible Choice

Since I plan on voting for Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election, my first target audience for this reflection consists of those citizens who consider themselves to be “progressives”; having supported Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the early primaries.

Having talked with a number of such “progressives,” I sense that many citizens who situate themselves in that category are thinking of not voting because they will not vote for President Trump and they don’t believe Joe Biden is progressive enough to warrant their support. I will now unpack why I think such a decision by these progressives “not to vote” is a bad idea.

I believe I understand the reasons these progressives have for not wanting to vote. They are strong proponents of the progressive agendas advanced by Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, and they do not wish to settle for the “less progressive” agenda that would likely emerge under a Joe Biden presidency.

But such reasoning misunderstands the nature of the messy world of politics. Since there are always strong proponents on both sides of any contentious public policy issue, politicians and citizens will seldom “get all that they want.” They will typically have to settle for only a portion of the legislation they consider to be optimal. The result of not being willing to settle for less than all that you want is that you may well get nothing of what you want.

Therefore, those progressives who decide not to vote because their “ideal” cannot be realized in the messy world of politics have abdicated the doing of politics to their political opponents and will have to live with what they will surely consider to be unsatisfactory political outcomes. And if enough progressives decide not to vote in the upcoming election, the unintended consequence may well be another four years of a Trump presidency, which, in my estimation, could do irreparable damage to Democracy in America.

But my encouragement to vote in the upcoming presidential election is not limited to citizens, like me, who plan on voting for Joe Biden. Whoever you favor to serve the next four years as our President, you need to express that by voting. The only way to cut through all the nonsense, misinformation and nastiness that currently dominates political discourse is for “we the people” to decide, collectively, who should serve as President for the next four years. And that can only happen if the overwhelming majority of us decide to vote.

Harold Heie, Orange City