Is Biden the lesser of two evils?

Sean Mauro, Staff Writer

The American left is deeply divided on what path to take following the suspension of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and the rise of former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Many call on progressives to vote for Biden, describing him as the “lesser of two evils” when compared to President Donald Trump. However, some voices on the left call for people to either not vote, or to vote for a third-party candidate.

One thing the left can agree on as a whole is that Biden is an extremely problematic candidate. However, it should be impossible for those on the left who consider the ramifications of a second Trump term to hold that Biden is the “greater evil.”

While Biden will certainly fail to fight for a progressive platform, his policies are still improvements over Trump’s. To put it simply, from a left perspective, a Biden presidency will cause the country less harm than a second Trump term. Therefore, in order to reverse some disastrous Trump policies and reduce harm as much as possible, progressives should vote for Biden.

There are many different arguments that propose the contrary. However, many of these fail to adequately speak to the situation at hand. Some of the most common rationales for this position are as follows.

We need to send a message to the Democratic National Committee. They can’t take our votes for granted

It is likely true that if Biden wins, the Democratic Party will see no reason to care about the progressive wing. However, what makes you think that Biden losing would make the party take progressives seriously? Remember, this same argument was used by some apathetic progressives in 2016. Did Trump’s victory in 2016 cause the DNC to take the left more seriously? No, it didn’t. We now have a nominee further to the right than Hillary Clinton.

Yes, Sanders supporters did mostly come out to vote for Clinton in 2016. However, Sanders supporters are very often blamed for Clinton’s loss, no matter how fallacious that claim may be. Therefore, if the left is believed to have caused Clinton’s loss, by this argument, the Democratic Party should have adapted and listened to the progressive wing in this primary.

Biden’s nomination in and of itself shows that the democratic establishment will never willingly accept a progressive candidate for president. Refusing to vote for Biden will not “send them a message.” They don’t care how you vote and would much rather cater to moderate republicans than hand the party over to progressives.

Progressives should go third party since the democrats won’t support us

 Ideally, it would be great to have more than two viable political parties. Unfortunately, this is simply not realistic. You have the right to vote for whoever you want, and nobody would contest that. However, there is absolutely zero chance that Howie Hawkins or any other third-party candidate has a shot at the presidency.

Even looking beyond this election, third parties, such as the Green Party, do not have the same power as the democrats and republicans. You may argue this is because leftists feel “confined” to the Democratic Party, and don’t support the Green Party, thus failing to get the party adequate organizing, funding, and so on.

However, leftists have a much more realistic shot at power in the Democratic Party. The amount of Green Party candidates that have been elected to congress is zero. However, the Democratic Party has elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Talib, Ro Khanna, Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal just to name a few still holding office. It is more realistic for progressives to take over the Democratic Party than to prop up a third party.

Biden and Trump are the same

This is demonstrably false. It is true that Biden shares in some of Trump’s policy weaknesses, but it is patently absurd to say that they are “the same”. A cursory glance at Biden’s views should make this obvious.

Biden supports tax increases on the wealthy, and an increased capital gains tax. By contrast, Trump signed the trickle-down economics style Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law. While Biden’s plan may be tepid and weak to progressives, it is not “the same” as Trump’s plan.

Trump has slashed funding for the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Biden wants to increase spending on renewable energy, and tax carbon emissions. Again, Biden’s plan doesn’t go far enough but is strikingly different from Trump’s stance.

There are so many issues that this applies to: Biden wouldn’t have backed out of the Iran deal, wouldn’t have engaged in as much deregulation, supports a $15 minimum wage, supports free two-year college and so on. While Biden may be worse on some issues or fail to fight for important causes, it is hyperbolic to say that he is “the same” as Trump.

Without even considering his positions, there are important reasons for the left to be concerned about a second Trump term. The president influences every aspect of government. Do you really believe that a Biden cabinet would be “the same” ideologically to a Trump cabinet? Do you also believe that Biden’s picks for regulatory agencies would be similar to Trump’s? Additionally, with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s advanced age, a second Trump Term could mean a third Trump Supreme Court pick. With the court already a conservative majority, this would prevent progressive policy for decades. Policies like “Medicare for All” would become impossible.

Biden doesn’t support the issues I care about and didn’t earn my vote

It is true that Biden hasn’t done nearly enough to earn the votes of progressives and will not fight for progressive causes. However, the primary is over, and there are only two realistic choices for president now. You need to decide which choice is better for the country. You can choose to not vote or vote third party if you like. However, while this choice doesn’t “amount to a vote for Trump,” it certainly helps him.

Biden will be the nominee of what is (supposed to be) the country’s worker’s party. If progressives refuse to vote for Biden in droves, it will hurt his chances. This doesn’t mean leftists have any obligation to vote for Biden, but if you prefer him to Trump, you should. This I especially true in a swing state where every vote will count.

Additionally, while Biden won’t fight for progressive causes on his own, he may if the left puts unrelenting pressure on him. There is a slight hope that the left can get policy concessions out of Biden. There is almost no hope of any left-wing pressure moving Trump.

Lastly, even if you can’t stomach voting for Biden, don’t let this make you apathetic. There are still important races to vote on down-ballot. For democrats, maintaining control of the house, and taking control of the senate is arguably more important than the presidency. Even in the primary election, there are still strong progressives running that need support. The left may have lost an important contest, but the movement must continue.