There is an old movement afoot that is still in force throughout the land. It is imbued with the ridiculous notion that helping Donald Trump win a second term is good for the long term prospects of the Left. This is simply wrong, but it is supported by the less intellectually nimble among us and inculcated through repetition.
It’s no accident that many of the most ardent supporters of this rubbish are easy to spot because they can’t spell. Good spelling is, after all, often a function of good pattern recognition, and the idea that assisting this monster Donald Trump to a second helping of American institutional destruction and debasement is poor pattern recognition on a world class level.
Punishing the country, punishing the world and punishing the planet is not a roadmap to progress. It’s a guarantee that many Americans will suffer and die, and irreversible harm will be done to the planet, its animals and its people. It’s a stupid and insane idea. In fact, it is so stupid and so insane, it’s hard to believe that it’s a real tenet of actual liberal thought and not cooked up in, say, a Russian troll farm.
It isn’t just a stupid choice, it’s an immoral choice. We have perhaps a decade, maybe two at the outside, to enact legislation and make changes that could positively impact climate change. You can be an activist and have a chance of seeing this and other reforms completed under a Biden administration. Re-electing Trump will mean an end to your activism. Meanwhile, Trump will stack the courts with young, alt-right judges who will make reasonable progress impossible for a generation or more.
What’s more, the idea that allowing a far right administration to rule will magically move the Democratic Party to the left isn’t just stupid it’s historically disproven. Eight years of Reagan followed immediately by four years of George H. W. Bush gave us Bill Clinton, arguably the most moderate Democrat in decades. It did nothing at all for progressives then, and giving Trump another four years will do nothing for progressives now. It’s a fool’s dream and a lazy person’s ideology to insist that their whole platform be agreed to now or they will burn everything to the ground. It’s selfish, hateful and destructive.
But the contemptible idea that Trump and Biden “are just as bad as each other” isn’t just stupid it’s also intellectually lazy. Anyone who tells you that Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the same refuses to think and can’t be bothered to read or listen to the facts. Joe Biden has his faults, and he wasn’t my first choice. But Donald Trump is a racist, an arch criminal, a murderer, a rapist, a traitor and a conman. There is no equivalency here but a false one. If you’re not convinced, read both men’s tweets, listen to their speeches and read their quotes from the last week — or any week — and tell me then they are the same.
The smug insistence that it’s your mandate and you can do what you want with it without approbation simply is not true. In a free society where free speech is guaranteed, learn to expect a lot of anger directed at you if Trump wins a second term. Not only will you become a pariah, you will deserve it. Such anger and the social consequences that stem from it is Constitutionally protected, and there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it.
Securing the right of women to vote and ending slavery were noble ideals that took decades to achieve, and they certainly were not achieved by electing bigots and misogynists. Political change is the art of slow, incremental change over time. If you lack the wisdom, patience or historical insight to practice it, then have the good grace to admit it and find something else to do. You don’t qualify to call yourself an activist, at least not of the kind that deserves to be taken seriously.
Fortunately we have the vast majority of Americans behind us this time. Let’s get out the vote and win, and let’s end this pointless divisiveness and become, once again, the *United* States of America. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.