Tell it like it is, Joe!

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I am a progressive, a member of the DSA and of Sanders’ movement. I think that what Sanders has fanned nationwide will far outlast his candidacy, and like many others in my “camp” or echo-chamber, that is the non-short-term goal we are working towards beyond June or November.

I also want to state that I, personally, am NOT a “Bernie or Bust”er, though I believe “Biden and Bust”, in June or November — or indeed, based on his long track record, after he is elected POTUS as far as any progressive vision is concerned (desegregation in multiple aspects of US life, racism, health care, college education, student loans, living wage, immigration, unending wars, corporate taxes/bailouts, police and legal reform, “bipartisanship” and anything but token feminism).

Yes the alternative seems worse, but we can quantify it.

(As an aside, I eschew simple-minded, binary, Abrahamic approaches like “good” vs. “bad” that seem to have become US standard since Dubya.)

Consider the 2016 election cycle and place yourself 4 years ago. Most leftish/Democratic/liberal/moderate/progressive people don’t doubt that Clinton is “less bad” than Trump for progressive causes, but the real question is how much less bad is she? Normalizing “badness” to Trump for that election cycle, since that basically has been the Democratic party’s “the alternative is worse” play for decades, if you think HeRC is only 10% as bad, you might not just vote for her but actively campaign for her or support her in some way. If you think she is 95% as bad, you may well think it is a toss-up and sit it out since the marginal return on your investment in voting will be low. Somewhere in between, at say Clinton-badness ~ 50% Trump-badness, you may hold your nose and vote unenthusiastically.

My then 14 year old daughter had phone-banked, GOTV’ed and canvassed for Sanders in 2016; and after the primary, thought that HeRC’s badness was low enough that she went to HeRC campaign offices. Once. She found that Clinton’s relative badness was high enough for her (my daughter) that she couldn’t overcome the condescension and disdain she faced in those offices and decided to never go back.

I think most progressives subconsciously make such calculations, taking into account third party candidates to calibrate the “goodness” end of the spectrum. If in 2000 on the badness-scale you believed that Nader : Gore : Bush :: 10 : 80 : 100, what would you have done? (Yes one should possibly weight this by likelihood of election if you want to vote for the “lesser-evil”.) Even if you as a centrist or right-wing Democrat suffer from 2000 PTSD, you can see that Nader was a rational choice for many — Nader didn’t sink Gore, Gore gored himself. Same with Stein : Clinton : Trump in 2016.

In both 2000 and 2016 there was no sitting POTUS, so the threshold of “evil less than 1.0” holds. In 2008 I suppose Obama was viewed as talking the progressive talk enough that there was no serious third party candidate from the left.

In 2020 the calculation is different. Assume a reasonable 50–50 odds (15 out of 30 PsOTUS who’ve sought re-election) of Biden being re-elected, his expected term is then 6 years. The real question is: “Is 4 more years of Trump’s “badness” more or less than 6 years of Biden’s badness?

So for Joe to get your “lesser evil” vote, it is not enough that he be simply “less bad than Trump”, Biden has to be less than 67% as bad as Trump.

Now, on to the real reason I started writing this before I got side-lined by the quant stuff.

I was shown, with glee, by afore-mentioned Bernie-bro teenage daughter, a presumptive ad by Biden’s campaign

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I didn’t think that even Biden’s campaign staff could be that stupid, though there are a lot of ex-HeRC staffers on it, and he’s made enough serious gaffes in his attempt to be Dubya-like plain-speaking that it could have been true. So I decided to see what the official campaign page is. First, it is filled with platitudes, starting with “Our best days still lie ahead”. WTF does that even mean? And his chauvinistic vision doesn’t speak anything to me at all, we’ve seen enough of this hopey-changey do-nothing stuff when he was Veep.

However, I decided to look deeper at his actual policy “beliefs”, which are all called “The Biden plan for …” and sounds like he doth protest too much since they are mostly weakened versions of stuff plagiarised (since he hasn’t given any credit) from Sanders and Warren.

And found this

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So, it is both his heart and his brain.

Give me one reason to vote for you Joe! One progressive idea that you are behind now that you have dug a grave for in the past? How about Stacey Abrams as VP candidate?

I stop to miau to cats.

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