Have you ever seen, smelled, and eaten a perfect hamburger? You see them on TV all the time. You probably even cooked one or have been served one. So you know what it looks like, smells like, and tastes like. How many times have you thrown out those less-than-perfect hamburgers? My guess is not many. Eating only perfect hamburgers means you waste a lot of good food, in addition to time, energy, and money.
Think about that when you decide NOT to vote this year. Don’t let your ideals get in the way of voting. Americans with liberal and progressive leanings, which are most of us, are ideal-oriented and can get discouraged easily when things are not perfect. You might say we are spoiled kids in that regard.
And yes, I am also talking to you, young people. You are important in every election. The trick to growing up is not losing your ideals when things don’t turn out right or just as you want them. It’s a long-term battle. This is especially true with regard to politics. If there is no ideal candidate, you don’t vote. Really?
That’s where history is important. You may have read some books or seen a play or movie on how the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and/or the Bill of Rights were developed. And I hope you noticed how, for example, the idealist John Adams came to terms with less-than-perfect outcomes. Aren’t you glad?
Now let’s get some things straight: America was not founded by conservatives, but by progressives. America was not built — and continues to not be built — by conservatives, but by progressives. Nor was Christianity developed by a conservative, but by a progressive. Christ shredded Old Testament concepts. It seems incongruous to me that any American, much less an American Christian, would be anything but a die-hard progressive.
And yet, despite the overwhelming number of progressives in this country, progress retreated over the past couple of decades. The rise of Trumpism is clearly a function of the Republican Party’s constant bashing of American progress at all levels and pushing nefarious agendas on this country. Trump is making it explicitly clear what the Republican Party stands for. Despite limited numbers of registered Republicans, the Republican Party is winning at the voting booth, which translates into political power.
Their ascent to power is also a result of progressives not getting to the voting booth at every election. We will always be at war with this anti-progress element, but we must win the battles, one local, state, national election at a time. We must stop hurting ourselves and this nation by voting for only ideal candidates, in ideal circumstances and at ideal times.
Progress is not all or nothing. Progress is a battle fought in increments. Sometimes, progress is maintenance, holding your ground, not letting the situation retreat.
So don’t get turned off by not being able to vote for the Bern. Now is not the time for ideal voting. Too much is at stake for you to be turned off and not cast your vote on Election Day. Vote for the good ones. They may not be perfect, but the strength of their numbers is good for progress, which is good for you and your country’s long-term health and well-being.
Stop the Retreat. Vote. You’ve seen the alternative, right?
Fattes is a retired U.S. Congressional program evaluator.