American voters this year are faced with the same choice as they were in 2016: a choice between right wing proto-fascist populism and neoliberalism. While in 2016 convincing arguments could be made that perhaps a Donald Trump presidency would not be as bad as his rhetoric implied, in the last four years, we have seen over and over how this thinking was wrong.
Despite Joe Biden’s record in the Senate, his platform is the most progressive platform that the Democratic Party has run since Jimmy Carter or George McGovern. Biden’s drug policy would effectively decriminalize the use of all drugs, treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. Should Biden win with progressive support, he can then be pressed to fulfill his more progressive campaign promises.
It is crucial that progressives and leftists vote for Biden and that they be vocal about it. Voting for Biden may not feel right, but voting in a two-party, winner-take-all system is not an expression of one’s own personal beliefs.
Your vote is a tactical choice. A vote for Biden is a vote for harm reduction, meaning that vulnerable communities such as people of color, the disabled and the LGBTQ community will be better off under a Biden presidency than a second term of Trump. Trump’s anti-minority policies are not solely due to his own personal prejudices but are also a reflection of what the most loyal and extreme parts of his base want him to do.
Is better off the same as perfect? No. It is the job of all leftists and progressives to fight for that equality hand in hand with those communities. That fight will be far easier under a Biden presidency due to the sizable portion of the Democratic base that progressives make up.
Roughly a third of House Democrats belong to the progressive caucus, and that number has the potential to grow even larger come November. As a Democrat, Biden finds himself on the same side of the aisle as progressives and leftists and is, therefore, able to be pushed further left by them. Such a fight for minority rights is made impossible under a second Trump term As we have seen, progressives have no leverage with that administration.
Trump does not pose an immediate threat of a fascist takeover, but the longer he remains in office, the more time fascists like Stephen Miller have to lay the groundwork for such a takeover. In 2016, when numerous scholars of fascism were asked if Trump was a fascist, their answers amounted to “he isn't quite a fascist, but he’s a stepping stone towards fascism.”
Now, however, Trump serves much of the same purpose as the leaders of many of the early proto-fascist movements of the 20th century. The president’s clear contempt for democratic norms and traditions poses a threat to the health of our republic.
Regardless of if you consider Trump a fascist or not, his abuses of our environment and civil liberties cannot be tolerated for another four years. Further degradation of our environment will cause a steady rise in climate refugees, which will only give the far right more room to justify further oppression of immigrants and other minorities. Another four years of Trump-chosen judicial appointments will lead to the erosion of civil liberties and rights that will take decades to repair. The longer Trump is in office, the longer protesters will be snatched up off the streets by federal agents.
While Biden is not the candidate that most Democratic voters want — throughout the primary polls consistently showed that Democratic voters largely supported a very progressive platform — he is seen as the candidate that is most likely to beat Trump. This broad yearning for a more progressive platform has garnered concessions.
Biden’s policies may not go far enough to address the various issues facing the country, but he can be pushed by progressives in a way that Trump cannot. If progressives sit out this election in any significant numbers, Trump will be that much more likely to win.
Now is not the time to hold back your ballot. This election is not about how you feel about the guy you’re voting for, it's about preventing another four years of federal police snatching protesters off the streets and it's about slowing down the progress of climate change.
Nick Finan is a sophomore secondary social science education major. Reach him at email@example.com.