Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

Fine, Let’s Talk About The Election

I don’t want to talk about politics. Not because I think writers and artists shouldn’t talk about politics — they can, and should, and are arguably well-equipped to do so. It’s just — it’s just very tiresome. This feels like the most obvious, easy-to-answer election in history. We’ve done it once already, and it was pretty well-settled, and I kinda hoped we were all in tacit agreement that we have two potential roads ahead of us, one which is bumpy but gets us where we need to go, and one which is just a pit, a giant fucking pit, ten feet of road and then a deep and bottomless hole.

But, of course, everything’s gone goofy. So, fine, let’s talk about it.

First and foremost, depending on who you talk to, I am either a froth-mouthed woke leftist, or I am a centrist shitlib, so I’m probably going to annoy someone with this post, and for that, you have my apologies.

(If I had to find myself on that scale, I’d say I’m between the two, arguably way more left than I’ve ever been. YMMV.)

Here is my view of the election:

Remove, for a moment, the two men running for president. I know, this is difficult — the presidency is supposed to be some kind of weirdo popularity contest, where we really want to “get a beer with the guy” or some dorky shit. But while the identity of the president matters more than it would in say, other countries, where they tend to vote for a party, let’s also assume that, in a way, you’re still voting for a party. You’re picking which party is going to control the executive branch and have authority there. They will bring an administration with them (or carry one over, in the case of incumbency) and it is the focus and abilities and reach of that administration that matter. The president represents the party, and here, the party further represents a laundry list of ideals and policies and directions for the country and its people, right? In this way, each party represents an opposing force.

This election is you voting for which force, which administration, which direction you think will best serve this country and its citizens.

One of those forces represents itself and its interests at a keenly selfish level, seeking to institute — and by now you’ve surely heard of this, yeah? — the policy nightmare package that is Project 2025. If you don’t know what it is, John Oliver can give you a useful primer here. The BBC also has a breakdown here. Or, jeez, you can just go to their website, since it’s all hanging out there in the open to be read. (I won’t link to it. Google it.)

Needless to say and to reiterate — it’s a fucking nightmare.

In brief, it seeks to dismantle crucial parts of the American government, gutting democracy and instituting the start of a theocracy. It takes aim at cutting or ending national parks, social security, gay marriage, women’s rights and bodily autonomy, public schools, health care, the entire regulatory ability of the government. It would continue to rewrite the judiciary for years to come — if not, essentially, forever. It would put an alarming amount of singular power in the hands of the president (in this case, Trump), already concentrated there via SCOTUS’s two decisions recently regarding presidential immunity and the Chevron Deference. It would make pornography illegal — and with a floating, easy-to-abuse definition of pornography, just imagine what could be included under that umbrella. It seeks to undo scientific regulations and laws around weather and climate change — this at a time when we are most certainly at a tipping point, marking that as a truly existential attack on not just this country, but the entire globe. (They like climate change, because they think it will open up more drill-baby-drill opportunities.) Do you enjoy the fact that the NOAA warns us about hurricanes and tornadoes and other extreme weather events? Well, they want to kill that too. They want to make LGBTQIA folks non-exsitent and illegal. They want to eliminate the Department of Education, holy fuck. Listen, it’s bad. It’s very bad. It’s genuinely a dictatorial agenda, and, if implemented even at partial strength, will be a number of nails driven into the coffin of American democracy.

That’s one party, one force, vying for control of the country.

The other party, uhh, doesn’t want to do that. The other party, while certainly imperfect, represents a force that will continue to try to reward labor, shore up the economy, treat science and expertise with seriousness, defend NATO, defend human rights, and quite vitally, treat climate change like the serious existential threat that it is. Again, it will do these things imperfectly. It will also champion policies that I don’t agree with. This isn’t odd — I don’t think there’s been an administration or party I’ve ever felt would be magically perfect, because politics is a shitshow and America is quite often a mess. Still! There’s a lot I do agree with. And I think some progress is still good. Slow, incremental progress is not ideal, but it is better than, again, the sheer nightmare agenda put forth by the other side, an agenda that would not only not take us forward but actually hits reverse so hard we’re going to be driving backward down the highway into onrushing traffic at 90 MPH. Or, to put it like I did before: one road is bumpy, but gets us there; the other road is a dark pit.

And this is going to be true whether or not Biden stays in the race or drops out. It’s honestly true whether or not Trump keels over, too. Both sides at this point remain who they are. One side wants to dismantle everything and grudge-fuck our freedoms into the dirt, transferring as much wealth to themselves before the whole thing burns down. The other wants to move us forward, even if it’s at a pace I wish were a little fucking snappier.

That’s it. That’s the choice ahead of us.

I see you have questions. Let’s have at ’em.

But shouldn’t Biden step down and let someone else take over?

Again, not the point of this post, but okay, I’ll play! I’m a goof and may not have all the best inclinations or information, but my view is —

No, he should not. He had a bad debate. I don’t care at this point. He has the magic of incumbency and, though I’d prefer he be bolder about declaring it, a relatively successful presidency. I mean, the infrastructure bill was huge and you ask climate scientists, it did more to combat climate change than anything else that came before it (even as, yes, it falls short, because once more we are talking about America where progress is often quite incremental). He’s been exceedingly pro-labor. His efforts with student loans were effective, even when they were constantly halted — he kept on, and found ways around, and so far has tackled $160 billion in student loans. He put forth the most diverse slate of judicial nominees in history. Hey, just look at this list of 30 things he’s accomplished that you didn’t even know about — and it includes stuff about weed regs, small food providers, cancer research, union support, AI monitoring, sustainable energy, countering junk fees and overdraft charges. Honestly useful, important stuff. Seriously: read it!

We’re looking at a successful four years. He’s been a far, far better president than I had expected him to be, even as I take issue with him on a lot of things. I really, really thought his presidency was going to be a sad balloon farting a deflation circuit around the room and… it wasn’t.

But he’s old —

Yeah, no, we know. I dunno. So’s the other guy, and the other guy is a nightmare who we already had as president.

But he’s not as sharp as he once was —

Yeah, no, we know. Again —

We’re voting for the administration and agenda, not just the one guy.

The other guy is as sharp as a diaper full of cottage cheese. Also: nightmare!

And one debate shouldn’t doom him. Honestly, he shouldn’t even do the debates. He’s given a lot of talks and rallies and interviews since and… he’s fine, he knows what he’s talking about. He stammers and sounds old because he is old, but whatever, he’s antediluvian and still probably in better shape than I am. I look at his schedule and I want a nap.

Besides, we re-elected Reagan, and it was an open secret that his brain was turning to meatloaf, okay?

But wouldn’t we have more support for a younger, sharper nominee?

Ohhh, ho ho ho, not necessarily. First, who? Who is going to be the ideal nominee? Harris? There’s this myth that “the left” really wants her, would get behind her, but I remember when “the left” was very eager to call her Kamala The Cop, and if you ask me, she’s pretty vulnerable on that. Besides, you vote for Biden, you still get Harris. It’s a solid incumbency.

Also, the GOP has said plainly they’ll do whatever they can do to monkey-wrench any proceedings going forward, issuing legal challenges. They’ll throw whatever Molotov Cocktails they can into the mix.

Finally, it’s a myth you’re going to find a candidate that won’t present new problems — one of those problems being trying to introduce themselves to the country just 120ish days before an election. You know how I know they’ll have problems? Because they’ll be a Democrat in America. Some of the things you’re probably mad at Biden about? Yeah they probably agree with him or, worse, are to his right on the issue.

My view is, cliches are usually junk but one sticks out: you don’t switch horses mid-stream. This is that. Stay on the horse. Ride it forward, get to the other side — or the waters could sweep you away.

But what about third parties —

I’m going to stop you there. It’s not going to happen. A third party vote is a vote flung into a rotten tree stump. I too wish for a more variegated party system here in America, as they have in nearly every other country in the world, but currently? We do not and that will not change in the next 120 days. There is a time for being aspirational in this regard and trying to affect change (ranked choice voting, for instance, is a good thing to fight for), and that time is right after we re-elect Joe Biden (or whoever the candidate is) for the next four years. And there is a time to recognize the reality of the battlefield in front of us, and that time is right now.

But I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, so what then?

Again, I want more than two choices, too, and further, I’d love it if there was a candidate who was literally perfect, a glorious moral unicorn, effulgent in the dawn, who hurt nobody and helps everyone and is basically Mister Rogers. Sadly, government and politics is a messy business who, at the worst, attracts a certain kind of power-hungry nightmare and, at the best, is a muddy domestic-global mess that requires hard choices every day — a series of infinite trolley problems, ever unspooling.

More to the point, I don’t see Biden as a lesser evil, or an evil at all — I see him as a woefully imperfect president running a sometimes awful country that when pushed, aspires to be better than it is, and I wish he made different choices when it comes to Gaza and I wish he were a better and more vigorous defender of abortion and of the various axes of marginalized folk, but I also recognize that there are few presidents who would’ve handled those things differently or better — and, further, the other guy would handle all that stuff way way worse, so, again, I dunno. The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good in this election. I know we want to drive the car forward as fast as we can, but the road is bumpy and the car is older and crankier than we’d like. But we can still drive it forward.

Okay, fine, so I’m just not going to vote —

Not voting is voting. You’re just voting for the worst of the two. Candidates aren’t products — you can’t boycott them to any effect. Listen, I’m not a person who will be sympathetic to you if you’re telling me you’re not voting. The right to vote is a privilege and to my mind, an obligation, one that has been fought for and bled for and is already poorly, poorly defended for our most marginalized voters — so if you take the privilege you have to vote and throw it away, you’re kind of a dick.

But I cannot morally vote for Joe Biden, so what then?

Then I guess you don’t vote, and you have your principles. I get it, I do, you gotta do what feels right. But I mean, you’re here in this country and, I presume, you pay your taxes, so you’re at least somewhat complicit either way in the good and the bad of this nation. And if your morality is the kind that allows someone like Trump in, who will usher in a far worse world, who will surely accelerate climate change? Then I think we are going to be of divergent philosophies as to how one defends one’s principles effectively without it being more than just a performance.

Anyway, that’s it.

We are at an existential tipping point.

Project 2025 is terrifying and real.

Let’s vote to move forward, not drive straight into the pit.

Comments are open until I need to close them.