In Malcolm in the Middle, the character Dewey famously said, “I expect nothing, and I’m still let down.” This is a good summary of my feelings towards the Democratic Party since I’ve become politically conscious, but I have never felt this sentiment so strongly as in the past month.
The electoral strategy of voting for the “lesser of two evils” isn’t effective. Democratic party voters need to start demanding candidates they actually want to vote for.
Institutional Democrats have covered their weak spots by pointing out how damaging Republicans are during every election cycle I’ve witnessed. As The Week reports, Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a memo in 2015 reporting their use of the “pied piper” strategy, which intentionally amplified extremist Republican candidates like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump in the media to hypothetically make winning elections easier.
In 2020, polls from Morning Consult showed nearly half of Biden voters voted “against Trump” rather than “for Biden,” whereas only 22% of Trump voters voted “against Biden.” An Axios poll from September showed two-thirds of Democrats don’t want Biden as the 2024 nominee.
As Vox reports, Biden has been struggling for a while to get through to a core pillar of the Democratic base: young voters, especially those of color like me. For example, #settleforbiden has over 400 million views on Tiktok, a popular social media platform among young adults, according Pew Research.
It’s not hard to see why young voters like myself might be disillusioned with Biden. According to the World Economic Forum, climate change is the third biggest concern for Generation Z, and it’s a stain on his record that Biden broke his promise to ban new fracking operations, as Politifact reports. He also stood by the Trump-era approval of the Line 3 Pipeline, which drew criticism from progressives, environmentalists, and Indigenous groups alike, as the Hill details. Under the Biden administration, the ACLU has reported, the number of people held in immigrant detention centers has doubled. Outrageously, the Biden administration also waived 26 federal laws this month, including environmental protections and Indigenous sovereignty protections, to continue building Trump’s border wall, according to AP News. These actions aren’t winning him any favors with me.
I’m not ignorant of the good Biden has done in comparison to Trump. He’s forgiven more student loan debt than any other president, and passed the biggest infrastructure bill in decades. However, that doesn’t negate the harms Biden has perpetuated.
Institutional Democrats don’t seem to share my concerns. Pennsylvania Representative Brendan Boyle told CNN “People should shut the hell up” about finding a new presidential candidate. It’s not exactly the nicest approach to the people who elected you, and more importantly, it’s ignoring reality. Biden’s unpopularity is a real stumbling block that can’t simply be overcome by arguing he’s the best person to beat Trump.
Biden’s unpopularity was problematic before the escalation of violence in occupied Palestine last month, but since then, it’s gotten worse. Biden’s full-fledged support for Israel is hurting him. According to a CBS poll, 53% of Democrats don’t believe the U.S. should send weapons to Israel. Further, the New York Times reports Biden is hemorrhaging support among Arab Americans, a key demographic in swing states like Michigan. And despite massive protests worldwide against what Doctors Without Borders calls the “indiscriminate bombing” and “collective punishment” of Gaza, a leaked memo shows the Biden Administration instructed State Department officials to avoid calls for “de-escalation” or a “ceasefire,” according to the New Republic.
Fear mongering about the Republican Party isn’t going to work here. Sorry, but if you pledge “rock solid” support for what Amnesty International, a United Nations human rights expert, and Desmond Tutu all called an apartheid regime, you lose my vote.
Our democracy can’t keep functioning based on people voting against things they hate. In a robust democratic society, people should vote for what they want, not just against what they don’t. Politicians need to campaign on actually improving people’s lives if they want to win.
Some of the most successful politicians in history have won because they promised a better world. Republicans engage in this strategy: as the University of Burdwan details, the calls to “Make America Great Again” appeal to the electorate’s desire to return to a fictional, idealized past of America. The Democratic vision for the world remains unclear. Sure, a blue vote is a vote against the conservative worldview, but what is it a vote for?
I’m afraid the platitudes of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign like “restoring the soul of the nation” aren’t going to win me over, especially if “the soul of this nation” involves more U.S.-backed war crimes in the Middle East, as documented by Amnesty International. According to NBC News, one of Biden’s potential 2024 slogans is “Finish the job,” and if the resurgence of post-9/11 Islamophobic hysteria is “the job,” he’s pulled it off.
Organizations like the Advocacy Alliance Center of Texas say “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!” I say to them: watch me. I understand those who don’t want Trump to win over everything else; believe me, I don’t want a Trump presidency either. But Democrats need to experience consequences for going against the will of their base. If Democratic voters will turn out so long as they remain the“lesser evil,” there is no incentive for politicians to get better.
If the 2024 elections force me to pick between Donald Trump and a guy who’s earned himself the nickname “Genocide Joe,” it’s not a hard decision at all. I’ll just stay home.