Will the Kamala Harris VP Pick Energize Young Progressives?

I can only pray that millennials become the next “Greatest Generation”

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In November 2015, the first article I ever wrote online was a warning to young voters.

“Become a truth seeker.”

Learn about something important to you. Become a master of just one subject. Then use your knowledge to speak the truth.

There’s a huge election coming, but the battle for truth starts now. And it has to continue long after the votes are counted.

Don’t say “it’s too hard.” “Too hard” is when thousands get maimed or die for no reason. Because the new liars get in power and then write bad laws. Or start a new war. Or round up your relatives because they’re not real Americans.

Naturally, that article was ignored — not a single view for an entire year.

What have we learned since then?

Can even one sane person in this country say they are better off now than they were four years ago? No one is untouched by the pandemic and Cheeto Jesus’ incompetent, criminally negligent protection of our collective health.

It’s crazy how far reality has been altered in Trump’s post-fact world.

The right-wingers have become even more divisive and willfully ignorant, while a disturbing number of young people have once again figuratively gathered up their marbles and gone home since Bernie Sanders did not win the nomination.

Don’t get me wrong — I love Bernie.

I voted for him in each primary, but I’m also enough of a realist to understand that his ceiling of support has never climbed above 30% in any national poll since he began running for president.

In these times of crisis, the last thing we need is all those “Why I Won’t Vote for Biden” articles by first or second-time voters who preach the same false equivalencies that the Republicans have been pumping into their brains for so long that they think these are original thoughts.

With the internet at their disposal, you would think young political bloggers could do some basic research and realize their principled positions are neither original nor impactful. They just play a small part in allowing the bad guys to keep stealing elections.

While you’re free to express your opinions, at least show more open-mindedness and a desire to deal with facts than your right-wing counterparts.

In the last twenty years, we have seen Republicans win two elections while losing the popular vote,* an outlier that has only happened three other times during the country’s first 224 years.

The only way this can happen is when a small percentage of progressive voters don’t step up, and the vote is close enough to be swayed by voter suppression, election fraud, and various other dirty tricks played on election day.

You were right to blame the older generation for ruining everything.

When I was young, I did the same thing. And every generation before that has done the same thing.

As a progressive Boomer, I’ve been horrified by my generation’s choices, starting with the rise of Ronald Reagan. I voted against him, but less than 45% of the people in my group voted, compared to 70% of the people over 45.

Those trends haven’t changed. The gap between young and old voters was even larger in 2012, according to the US Census.

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Are you seeing a pattern yet?

I didn’t think it could get any worse than Mr. “Ketchup is a vegetable,” but watched in horror as a new generation of dissatisfied progressives voted for Ralph Nader, making the 2000 race close enough for the GOP’s voter suppression efforts help the Republicans to steal that election.

Once again, I thought things could get any worse than Mr. “Big Hat,No Cattle,” but the stupidity of the American electorate (with a lot of help from Russia and more voter suppression) took us down an even darker path in 2020.

I know how much my generation has screwed things up for you, but in politics, just like personal growth, there comes a point in your life when you have to stop blaming your parents and take responsibility for your actions.

2020 is the first year when Millennials will be the largest voting age block in the U.S.

You have the power to end Trump’s reign of errors if you finally step up and vote en masse.

If “This Time it’s Different” is true for the first time in history, you’re going to have to prove it by not fucking it up.

Because there is no doubt that the next generation will soon be blaming you if you do.

I have to ask, “is it finally different this time?” Sadly, I fear the answer is no.

And the reason for my fears is that each generation of young people suffers from the “our generation is different” illusion, a seductive but dangerous combination of idealism, narcissism, and an ignorance of the past.

During the pandemic, there has been a lot of anger over the selfishness of people who refuse to wear masks and practice safe social distancing. Individual stupidity can endanger a large number of innocent, vulnerable people.

How is it any different when a “principled” young progressive refuses to vote for the guy who will clean out the disease occupying the White House?

Let’s look at the real costs imposed on all of society by voters who put their principles above the common good.

1. Women’s Reproductive Health Services in poor states

Forget about the abortion issue for a moment, your white privilege is showing when you say there is no difference between the candidates. Republicans in Texas found indirect ways to attack abortion by passing a 2015 law that would “have closed all but 10 clinics to serve a population of 5.4 million women of reproductive age.”

Even in the extreme fantasy that Biden has led the same private life as Trump, the political reality is that a Democrat in the White House will defend women’s reproductive health rights, while the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief actively works to end them.

So while all you progressive Karens out there ride around on your moral high horse, you either live in a state where you are protected or have the resources to go out of state to get whatever service you need. Fortunately, the Supreme Court overturned that law, but with the shift to the right and the threat of Trump installing two more right-wing judges, those legal protections may disappear and red states will continue their war on women.

I can imagine the reaction of poor women and women of color who will suffer the impact of your principled stand. Might it be something along the lines of “shut the fuck up you white biatch and get your fat ass into a motherfuckin’ voting booth?”

2. Unequal treatment under the law for young black men

The widespread imprisonment of young black men on marijuana charges is a means to perpetuate slavery. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Blacks are incarcerated five times more than White, while the language of the 13th Amendment allowed states to use prison labor as a bridge between slavery and paid work.

From a political perspective, a Biden presidency would give us an Attorney General who could use his power to change the classification of marijuana from a Schedule I drug (which includes heroin and considered a felony) to either a misdemeanor or decriminalize it completely.

Considering there are only ten states where marijuana is fully illegal, the Justice Department needs to stand down and respect the decisions of the other 40 states (28 have either legalized or decriminalized the substance and the remaining 12 allow its use for medical purposes).

So while all you Bernie Bros think you’re taking a stand for your progressive values, your non-support of Biden makes you complicit in allowing institutional racism to continue unchecked.

I can’t even repeat what I imagine those unjustly imprisoned young men must be saying about you motherfuckers.

3. Police brutality and the move toward fascism

In light of the actions in Portland and the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, I ask that you read Joe Biden’s position on criminal justice reform:

We can and must reduce the number of people incarcerated in this country while also reducing crime. No one should be incarcerated for drug use alone.

Our criminal justice system cannot be just unless we root out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the system. Black mothers and fathers should feel confident that their children are safe walking the streets of America.

Our criminal justice system must be focused on redemption and rehabilitation.

No one should be profiteering off of our criminal justice system.

Please walk up to some black dude and explain your belief that there’s no difference between Biden and Trump. In the words of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, “I dare you. I double-dare you, muthafucka.”

4. Immigration reform and internment camps

Yes, despite a Federal judge ruling that immigrant family separation is unconstitutional back in 2018, and the treatment of those children is inhumane, family separation policy continues two years after the Trump administration claims it ended.

Amnesty International (yes, Trump has fucked up this country so much that we are the ones who need to be observed by Amnesty International) reported that the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) had “separated 6,022 ‘family units’ between April 19, 2018, and August 15, 2018.

The numbers of children separated from their parents are hidden from the public and are continually being adjusted. The latest result I could find was “more than 5,400 children split at border, according to new count.

Regardless of your view on immigration, separating children from their families creates trauma that we can’t begin to measure.

Don’t say you abhor this criminal policy and then tell me you refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils. Your “principles” are just a cover for your wounded ego.

Your desire to be right is wrong when your inaction increases the possibility that those policies continue.

I could go on listing the vast differences between Biden and Trump for hours (health care, environmental policy, Supreme and Federal Court nominations, the use of executive orders, how presidential appointments determine whether a federal agency — like the CDC — fulfills its lawfully sanctioned duties or not, and so much more), but I’m sure I’ve already exhausted your patience.

I don’t know if Kamala Harris will energize young voters to finally make their imprint in the political sands, but I pray they do.

Can the progress we’ve made to unify in support of the Black Lives Matter movement translate to increased and uninterrupted political pressure at all levels of government? Clearing out the swamp will be a Herculean task because the parasites, predators, and monsters behind the scenes exist at every level of government:

  • Your Secretary of State plays a large role in determining if your elections will be run fairly. Just ask the people of Georgia in that 2018 gubernatorial election or the people of Florida in the 2000 presidential election.
  • Your Governor will appoint someone to replace a Senator or Representative who either dies or is removed from office and they can use their powers to attack our civil servants. They can use their office for profit just like the Russian puppet in Washington. The corruption saga of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is a horror story that every voter needs to learn — let’s just say things never go better with Koch.
  • Your school board can work against students and teachers by deciding which textbooks the schools will use — ready for Creationism in science class, abstinence oaths in place of sex education, and American history based on the idea that African slaves brought to the United States were “workers”?
  • City Council members will determine the quality of your city through the planning commission and may “favor” some developers over the best interests of their citizens.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. — William Shakespeare

Like individual leaders, entire generations face challenges that either destroy them or force them to achieve greatness. History is on your generation’s side if you rise to the occasion. And if you do, your children and grandchildren will thank you and remember you as “The Greatest Generation.”

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*And a third election (2004) may have been altered through election fraud in Ohio (not voter fraud — this has to do with errors seen in the electronic voting machines used).

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.