Though we’ve known for four years that the 2020 US election cycle would be even more fraught than the strange and painful fall of the 2016 elections, most of us still find ourselves a little disoriented these days. For some, the urgency to remove Trump from office has immobilized us. For others, it’s fortified us into action to get out the vote and to sway those who are undecided, apathetic, and reluctant.
In the final five weeks before the election of a lifetime, we asked writers to consider the undecided voter and contribute compelling arguments and ideas for making the world right. Some contributors sent us work that takes on issues with precision and gravity. Others sent us different work, perhaps an even more visceral snapshot of this alarming moment — a one-act play, an open letter, a story of exile. New writing will be published weekdays; we believe its wisdom and strength will help us all navigate the uncertainty ahead.
I know. I’m heartbroken, too.
I voted for Bernie because I needed to believe in something. Even if Bernie did not accomplish all of what he had set out to do, I wanted a president who led with conviction. I needed someone unafraid of naming this country’s systemic inequities. I wanted a president to fight for a better future. I wanted to believe in his 2016 and 2020 campaign guiding lights:
A Future to Believe In.
Not Me. Us.
I know why my friends have turned away from wanting to participate in presidential electoral politics. 2016 is still a wound. Despite our hopes, the 2020 primaries were no different. The process has so many of us feeling that our votes do not count and our voices do not matter, that the establishment pulls the strings, and we are powerless.
I understand the feeling. Part of me still feels this way.
But my heart knows that we are not powerless, that we still have work to do with our votes.
If we do not hold our nose and vote for Biden and Harris, Trump and Pence will win.
Generations will suffer as a result. With four more years of Trump, we are likely hurtling toward another Great Depression. The poor will suffer. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Arab, and Asian Americans will suffer. Trans and queer folx will suffer. Undocumented people will suffer. People with disabilities will suffer. Over 200,000 people living in the United States have died from COVID-19 because of our presidential leadership’s egregious mismanagement of this pandemic.
I look at my friends and family who cannot vote, whose lives are at risk. It is the practice of loving them that keeps me from giving up altogether, despite my fear, rage, and disillusionment.
I will vote for Biden and Harris not because I like them or agree with their policies or approve of how Biden became the nominee. This vote is not just about my heartbreak but about reducing harm for all of us.
During a presidential nominee debate, each candidate was asked to speak to a favorite quote. Bernie cited Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
It takes courage to hold fast to our ideals, despite disappointment, and believe that change is still possible.
In November, I hope that Trump is voted out of office. I hope that progressives can continue the work of moving us toward a better future: universal healthcare, redistribution of wealth, restored and expanded voting rights, and environmental justice. I hope that we can raise new leadership, and that we can push a moderate Democratic Party further to the left. Bernie’s leadership has already forced Biden to promise a $15 federal minimum wage. Let’s hold him to it, and push as far as we can go.
If you enjoyed this essay, please share it with an undecided voter in your life, and please consider contributing to Kundiman.
Cathy Linh Che is a poet and creative nonfiction writer. Her poetry book is Split, and she works as Executive Director at Kundiman. Find her at cathylinhche.com.