Let’s start this article off with a game:
- Go on any social media site and find a post either lamenting Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal from the presidential race or critiquing Joe Biden’s politics.
- Go to the comments section
- For every comment urging people to vote for whoever the Democratic presidential nominee ends up being, take a shot.
You’ll probably get alcohol poisoning after 10 minutes.
“Vote blue no matter who” is an argument I’ve been seeing everywhere lately. It’s also an argument that I can’t stand.
The first thing the slogan does is shut down debate. It evades any discourse about the merits of progressive or socialist politics. At the same time, it deflects any valid criticisms of moderate candidates without presenting any well-formulated arguments in their defense.
Lazily changing the subject or citing a worse alternative doesn’t make a candidate’s flaws disappear. “Vote blue no matter who” is not persuasive, because it doesn’t actually argue anything.
It’s also condescending, ignoring the nuance of many complainants’ opinions. Lots of people on the left — myself included — recognize the need for compromise in the form of Biden, but we also recognize the need to hold on to our values and hopes for a more progressive political future. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive.
Just because we’re living in a time of crisis with a buffoon as president doesn’t mean we have to abandon all standards for our elected representatives.
Anybody who would vote for Sanders or Elizabeth Warren already knows that Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to our country in recent memory. To think that it’s necessary to remind them of that is patronizing.
And quite frankly, anybody who won’t compromise to get Trump out of office is a lost cause. He’s done so much since even before he was in office to prove to the world that he doesn’t deserve to be president.
How could anybody forget his disparaging comments about women and racial and religious minorities? How could anyone forget his heart-wrenching family separation policy at the border, his attacks on the press, or his utter disregard for the Constitution and our most sacred democratic institutions? And we’re all living through his bumbling response to the COVID-19 crisis.
I’m not stupid enough to forget these incidents just because I don’t like Biden, nor am I blinded enough to ignore them.
But perhaps the most embarrassing thing about the “vote blue no matter who” mantra is that it shuts down substantively evaluating the Democratic candidate. And, as American history proves, looking at that candidate’s electability is necessary, if we want the country to actually go Blue.
Trump already proved he can beat a moderate. Even without the popular vote, he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Let’s go back even further: In 2004, Howard Dean ran to be the Democratic presidential nominee on a platform that vehemently opposed the Iraq War, advocated for tax cuts for the middle class, and called for universal healthcare.
The media complained about his temperament and his loud, unpresidential tone. When at a campaign rally he let out a short, impassioned yell (the infamous Dean Scream), the media branded him as unhinged and unfit for office. John Kerry, a more moderate alternative, won the nomination. Kerry lost to George W. Bush in the general election.
In the 1988 presidential primary, Jesse Jackson built the National Rainbow Coalition, composed of people from minority, working class, and LGBTQ+ communities. He ran on a very liberal platform that included reversing tax cuts for the rich and using that money to fund social welfare programs, a single-payer universal healthcare system, and free community college for all. Democrats weren’t comfortable taking a risk with Jackson, so Michael Dukakis won the primary instead. But in the general election, Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush.
Democrats’ so-called safe options have lost to Republicans numerous times. Why should things be any different this time?
At the end of the day, compromise is necessary right now. I’ll vote for Biden come November, even if I didn’t support him in the primaries. But this compromise shouldn’t stifle discourse. We shouldn’t cancel a conversation just because it doesn’t seem worth having in the short term. Political progress only happens as a result of public debate.
“Vote blue no matter who” is not an argument. Stop using it.