2020 Manifesto

This November, I’m going to vote for Joe Biden. He won’t be the first Democrat I’ve ever voted for, but he’ll be the first I’ve voted for president. And I will vote for him proudly. Here is why.

For my friends, colleagues, and family members, it’s probably a weird time to be in my orbit. Everyone has always known me a conservative, a Republican political operative who built a career out of helping Republicans get elected to office. Those days are behind me now, and I think my actions since have left a few people unsettled. I don’t owe anyone any apologies or explanations, but it’s probably time to clear the air a bit on my politics.

This November, I’m going to vote for Joe Biden. He won’t be the first Democrat I’ve ever voted for (that distinction belongs to Brian Sontag), but he’ll be the first I’ve voted for president. And I will vote for him proudly. Joe Biden is a man of good character who has been an honorable public servant for most of his life; good character and honorable are words which have never been ascribed to Donald Trump.

I may disagree with Biden on some issues, but that’s fine. Rest assured, despite what you hear in the GOP talking points Tucker Carlson rattles off every night, America isn’t going to be turned into a socialist republic with the inauguration of Joe Biden. Despite the similar scare tactics the GOP used in 2008 and 2012 (which I am also guilty of propagating as part of my job) it didn’t happen then either. Somehow, capitalism continued to thrive during the Obama years.

As an actual conservative, I’m sure I’ll be critical of a few of Biden’s first policy initiatives or political appointments. The only way to restore conservatism is to wipe the current GOP and Trumpism completely out of power. If that means wandering powerless through the wilderness or a few years, then so be it. I’d just like to return to a place where a few policy disagreements are the least of my concerns about the person occupying the White House. That’s fine and that’s normal. Sometimes you need a cleansing fire to save the forest.

Donald Trump is not normal. He’s not of sound mind. He has few positive accomplishments in his first term, and an overwhelming number of failures. Chief among them is the fact that over 200,000 Americans are dead of COVID-19. His refusal to treat the pandemic with the seriousness it demanded at the start continues to needlessly cost American lives, even though he knew of the dangers at the start. Our families will feel the economic repercussions for decades.

Also on the (partial) list…

He stood by and did nothing while Vladimir Putin put bounties on American troops.

He abused presidential power by attempting to pressure the Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

He separated families and locked children in cages at the border.

He has alienated allies and weakened American influence abroad.

He has repeatedly coddled white nationalists and violent far right groups in the U.S. Remember Charlottesville?

His foolish tariffs have damaged our trade relations, hurt our farmers, and cost American consumers millions of dollars for no discernible gains.

His shocking treatment of Senator John McCain (and other veterans), one of our best, will forever be horrifying to me.

His administration has made repeated attempts at dialing back LGBT rights.

President Trump has repeatedly referred to people exercising their constitutional right to protest, in support of racial equality no less, as “terrorists”. He has dispatched nameless, paramilitary-style officers onto American streets to violate civil rights and escalate the violence in our cities. Not because it’s a good solution to anything, but because he thinks it makes him look “tough” to his base voters.

This has already been a long list and I’m not even into his blatant nepotism, violations of the emoluments clause, treatment of women, and his shady financial dealings which are still being investigated. Trump and the people in his orbit are a human centipede of corruption.

None of this is fake news reporting by the “liberal media.” All of these things can be verified by listening to Trump’s speeches, reading his tweets, or hearing his staff try to spin this nonsense after the fact. In the past, even one of these would have been a disqualifying offense. Well, theoretically anyway. There is no historical analog for any of this behavior.

Trump might be a Republican, but he’s no conservative. His values, or lack thereof, make me reluctant to even call him American. Donald Trump’s rhetoric has given voice to and legitimized the most dangerous fringe elements of our society. Nothing is better today than it was three years ago — we’re living in Trump’s America now and we should not reward his failures and corruption with four more years.

In my 16-year career as a political professional I’ve undoubtedly contributed, in some small way, to the rise of Trumpism. I am profoundly sorry, and it’s something that I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life. Starting this year though, I’m fighting for change. It will (and probably already has) cost me friendships and alienated co-workers. So be it. America deserves better than this, and a return to civility and sanity. We can start that by electing Joe Biden. We can finish the job by removing all of Trump’s enablers and co-conspirators from power at every level of government. I’m choosing my country over party.