As the Democratic National Convention kicks off, so begins perhaps the most hopeless general election season this country has ever seen. Predictably, progressives are debating each other over how to vote, if at all, in November. Some are voting Green, some are doing write-ins, some are staying home, and some, of course, are voting for Joe Biden. You can hardly visit a Facebook group, Reddit forum, or Twitter thread without seeing Leftists arguing their cases on this question.
Last week I published an article entitled “Why Progressives Shouldn’t Fight Each Other Over How to Vote in 2020.” In it, I argued that overly heated debates over how to vote in an election that, for us, is already lost, is wasteful at best, counterproductive at worst. Such quarrels can only serve to fracture the progressive coalition heading into 2021, when, no matter the outcome of this election, mass movements and direct action campaigns will be absolutely necessary if we are to save this country from hitting rock bottom. And by “direct action,” I don’t mean taking the train from the suburbs into your city once a year for a Womens’ March; I mean strikes, sit-ins, walk-outs, town hall protests, etc. I argued that as progressives, more important than pressuring each other over how to vote, is securing commitments from each other to participate in these no-nonsense protest efforts now, after November, and most importantly, after January 2021, when the next presidential term begins.
In response to the article, our friend Allen Howell rebutted some of its points on his YouTube show, The Howell Underground. He agreed that protests and direct action efforts were of greater importance than voting, but asserted that for principles’ sake, we on the Left should withhold support for Joe Biden and demand that our fellow progressives do the same. He likened voting for Joe Biden to crossing a picket line at a labor strike, and insisted that such an action is disqualifying for anyone who claims progressive bona fides.
We thought we should debate and discuss these points further, and so Allen came on the podcast for a predictably substantive, hearty, and rowdy conversation on voting vs. direct action strategies for building Left power, and how to hold both ourselves and the establishment accountable throughout and after the 2020 election cycle.
Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:
Photo: Ken Schles