Note: some of the opinions in this piece are controversial. That shouldn’t be a bad thing. This site was designed in part as a place for reasoned and polite discussion about political and social topics. It will continue to be so. We don’t have to all agree… in fact, we shouldn’t, and I’m very pleased that some of our regulars are staunch Democrats, others are firm conservatives (even if they rarely identify with Republicans anymore) and yet others have been out of any particular camp for years. Disagreement should not birth resentment and hate.
Justin Amash declared an exploratory committee for a possible Presidential run yesterday, and I’m thrilled. This should be unsurprising, because individual representation is a plank upon which this site is built. If you look at Tiff’s self-description, posted every day, it says “politically homeless”… not Democrat, not Republican. Beth’s, similarly provided daily, goes even further. “*Principle above party * Politically Homeless * Ex GOP * Tribalism is stupid* NeverTrump ≠ Pro Hillary. Anti-GOP ≠ Pro Dem”. Steve has a dissertation-level series of articles, still available as one of the options on the drop-down menu, explaining his appreciation for our national principles. Lenny, who is no longer a contributor to the site but is one of the founders, has made it clear that he intends to vote for neither Biden nor Trump.
Me? I’m the odd one out. I haven’t made my affiliation publicly clear in any way other than my posts, so let me repeat it here: I reject, completely and utterly, the binary argument. A vote for someone other than Trump or Biden is not automatically a vote for the other side, and I find it deeply offensive on multiple levels (math, political theory, family) to hear that concept promoted.
Here’s the thing: even if you don’t agree with me? You should be pleased I refute your position. I’ll explain why at the end, and I expect you’ll agree (albeit, possibly, reluctantly).
First, though, let me explain my position. I am not going to criticize anyone who votes for Biden in November, nor am I going to criticize anyone who votes for Amash, or any one of a number of other candidates with the possible exceptions of Donald Trump and Jesse Ventura, who I believe are both bad people.
I believe it’s a bad decision for any non-Democrat to consolidate behind the Democrat at this point in time. The Democrats absolutely should be working to bring the various elements of their base together, which is why Biden wisely had a town hall with Hillary yesterday. She is still unpopular with ex-Republicans, but she won the popular vote last time and she has a faction of die-hard believers who refuse to accept that she has any flaws. Biden needs to consolidate the support of that group, and he made great strides in that regard yesterday.
Biden is going to continue to court the various groups of the Democrat base until the convention has been held and he is officially the nominee. That means he’s going to do and say some hard-left things and hold events with some people I loathe. This is rudimentary politics, and it is his best path toward the Presidency. It will be after the convention, when he is looking to pick up independents, that non-Democrats should be prepared to pressure him to stay or move centrist. Every non-Democrat who’s already campaigning for him is a non-Democrat he doesn’t need to worry about wooing with policy adjustments. For that reason alone, I would caution against publicly declaring for Biden if he does not suitably represent your views.
There is another factor which concerns me. We’re being slammed with covid-19 and Biden’s not young. If he, God forbid, is injured or killed by the virus before the convention the Democrats are likely to sub in the person who came in second in the primary… and that would be Bernie Sanders. The Democrat leadership would not like to have a nominee who would immediately lose some Southern states which are in play under Biden and which would remain in play with other candidates, but they are unlikely to weather the open revolt which would be expected from the Sanders contingent should he be refused the spot despite being far ahead of all other candidates in delegates.
It’s an excellent question as to who would be more dangerous to the country: Donald Trump with a strongly Democrat Senate and House, or Bernie Sanders with a perceived mandate and a strongly Democrat Senate and House. Let’s hope we never have to deal with it… but in such a situation, Justin Amash could be a reasonable contender.
Note, this isn’t a normal campaign season. The money advantage, normally a major factor in politics, means very little because candidates aren’t able to campaign in their standard fashion: they can’t fly places for events and cross states on bus or train tours. They’re limited to actual discussion in places like the internet. If ever there was a time when ideas could matter, it’s now.
That said, if Biden remains in the race as expected, I don’t think Amash has much of a chance. There is a huge resistance to breaking free of the D/R binary situation. Even now, despite having months ahead of us, there are people who are furious with Amash for daring to challenge two-party rule. “There’s only one person who can win!” they claim, as if the election were tomorrow and as if nothing mattered other than the party designation. Biden would be the only contender… if those were the facts of the case. They are not. The odds are long, but independents have won before and parties have been uprooted before. I do not understand the demand, much less the urgency associated with it, for premature surrender.
If I were such a defeatist, I wouldn’t be spending my time here every day.
There is no law that says that I may only support one candidate prior to casting a vote. I refuse to be pressured into doing so. I’d resent that even if it were a candidate that I like… and I don’t like Joe Biden. I don’t like much of his policy and I’m not a fan of him personally.
That said, would I vote for him if I were in a swing state? Very probably, if Amash or some other candidate I liked wasn’t polling at least 20% and likely 30% nationwide. Trump has been destructive and traitorous and needs to be removed. Come November, if there appears to be any reasonable chance to retain Trump, I expect to be encouraging swing state voters to get to the polls for his highest-polling opponent, whom I expect to be the Democrat.
But, set that aside for a moment… I have a better, more personal reason why I reject the binary argument, and it’s one that’s close to the heart of everyone here.
Every person who visits these comment sections has walked away from at least one site because that site has bowed to pressure and changed. Whether it’s pressure from within, such as the fear of state and local governments enacting quarantine powers during a plague, or the more common pressure from without, such as the many sites which recognized the shifting sentiment of their new readership or media patrons toward Trumpism and decided to go along with it.
I’m not changing. I understand that I may be taking a position that’s not popular… and I’m okay with that. I’m going to continue to promote the principles, if not always the exact positions, that I have for more than two decades before this site started. I believe the readership is going to be happy with that because it means that I may not agree with them today… but if I’m not going to bend, and neither are the other contributors, visitors can be confident in having at least one site that’s not going to shift nationalist or socialist or conspiratorial.
That, I think, is a very welcome notion.