My Vote of No Confidence

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Side-by-side official portraits of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, desaturated and with the word NO in red text superimposed. Both original images are official works of the U.S. federal government and in the public domain.

This week I cast my ballot, as I have in every U.S. general election and nearly every mid-term since I first became eligible to vote in 1988. But for the first time, I did not vote for a presidential candidate. This was not a decision I took lightly.

I’d long since abandoned the Democratic Party, and more recently left the Green Party as well to become an independent voter. I still looked to the San Francisco Green Party voter guide for advice on local and state ballot measures, which I feel are important to me to weigh in on, though I don’t always agree with the Greens’ recommendations or endorsements.

But I was not happy with the Greens’ presidential candidate selection process this year. (Former Green candidate Ian Schlakman has posted some insights on this issue.) I considered voting for my preferred candidate (Dario Hunter) when he went on to run with a new party, but he was not qualified for write-in access in California by the time I was ready to mail in my ballot.

Regardless, I’d been losing confidence in the U.S. government for a long time, and have grown increasingly convinced that no third party or independent candidate has a realistic chance under our current system. True, lasting reform will not take place at the ballot box; it will take a genuine revolution.

I’ve heard all of the reasons liberals give when they insist that voting for the Democratic candidate is the “only” choice. I’ve heard the same talking points in every presidential election, no matter who the opposition is. It’s frankly patronizing and insulting to be told that my decision to vote for anyone but Biden, or to not vote at all, is an act of privilege, considering that I’m a 50 year old queer Black trans person.

Regardless of who wins the popular and electoral votes — which will likely not be fully tallied until several weeks after the election — Donald Trump will never concede voluntarily, and the people who put him in office in 2016 and still want him there will not go away quietly. Businesses in San Francisco are already boarding up their windows in expectation of social unrest, and this is considered a liberal city.

Anyone who thinks that even an overwhelming victory for Biden means that the country can breathe easy is truly living in a fantasy land. As I’ve said repeatedly, this country was founded by and for the benefit of white cishet male landowners, and they’re not going to give up their power easily.

After November 3, voters who truly support marginalized people would make a greater positive impact by redirecting their get-out-the-vote efforts to actively supporting us no matter who is installed in the White House, rather than constantly criticizing and blaming non-voters and third parties. Rooting out the racism, cisheterosexism, and other forms of oppression that have always been with us requires much, much more than changing who serves in our federal government.

I’m not trying to convince anyone to abstain from voting. I expect most people who were always going to vote for Biden have already done so by now anyway. I’m simply making my decision known, and letting the consequences — lost friendships, insults, whatever — come as they may. I only wish those who claim to have the best interests of queer and Black folks at heart would direct blame, if they must direct it somewhere, at the people who are actually, knowingly voting for Donald Trump.

In closing, I recommend a thoughtful essay by McKensie Mack, a fellow queer nonbinary Black progressive, “But what if he wins?” Mack remarks that they don’t shame or judge people who either use or don’t use voting as a tool for our freedom and liberation. And they say to Black folks:

May it be so.

Written by

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, photographer, blogger. Pronouns: they/them/their.,

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