Voting matters more than ever

See Disclaimer.

Amidst protests and a pandemic, little attention was paid to the June 2 primaries. But Democratic primaries did happen in the District of Columbia and in seven states: Indiana, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

Joe Biden has now surpassed the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination. Granted, the suspense was non-existent, as he has been the presumptive nominee since Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign and endorsed Biden.

But we should not lose track of the relevance of our democratic process, and of the fundamental importance of the November general election. Recent events make it even more important that we commit to be informed, and fully participate in the process of choosing our elected leaders.

Stacey Abrams, a potential Biden’s choice for VP,  reminded us of just that. Her recent NYT Opinion—“I Know Voting Feels Inadequate Right Now. Just hear me out,” should be read widely. And her punch line is right on target:

“Voting will not save us from harm, but silence will surely damn us all.”

November’s choice is simple. Joe Biden will be the uniter and healer president that we must have. The alternative—the re-election of Mr. Trump—would be a national and global disaster.

As to why it is imperative that Mr. Trump loses, we might listen to Mr. Trump’s former Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis. In a truly extraordinary condemnation, in a statement to The Atlantic, Mattis describes Mr. Trump as a threat to the Constitution. He goes on to say:

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”

But not re-electing Mr. Trump will not be enough. The Republican party should also lose in both houses of Congress in the November elections, as a price for its enabling role in the debacle. Conservative columnist George Will, in an Opinion for the Washington Post (“Trump must be removed. So must his congressional enablers”), makes exactly this argument. As he points out, in rather colorful language:

“A political party’s primary function is to bestow its imprimatur on candidates, thereby proclaiming: This is who we are. In 2016, the Republican Party gave its principal nomination to a vulgarian and then toiled to elect him. And to stock Congress with invertebrates whose unswerving abjectness has enabled his institutional vandalism, who have voiced no serious objections to his Niagara of lies […].”

Once, as voters, we deliver the White House and Congress to the Democrats, the real hard work will begin: Re-unifying the country, deconstructing the web of negative impacts woven by this presidency, and restoring and improving the American Dream. We should dream big, and work towards ending racism and, more broadly, discrimination and social injustice. We should mitigate and adapt to climate change. And we should advocate for deep, forward looking, changes in our health, economic and political systems.

But we only earn the right to dream if we vote. Please vote for Mr. Biden this November.

— Antonio Baptista


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