Elections are about the future. Yes, today—Election Day—is a referendum on a criminal presidency. It’s a test of whether four years of wannabe-autocracy and decades of corporate capture have corrupted our institutions beyond the point of no return. But this is what I am focused on: Despite it all, we have this one last shot—one final, possible off-ramp from the highway to destruction for ourselves, our country, and our world.
Here’s the state of play: The climate crisis is spiraling out of control. Poverty and inequality are on the rise. Racism is resurgent. The police state has been unleashed. Four years under Donald J. Trump have made every aspect of domestic life worse and the prospects for international peace more remote. He has waged bloody wars all over the world, and risked catastrophic ones. He dismantled the one government response that, for all its faults, might have been capable of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, if not stopping it in its tracks. At least 231,000 Americans and over 1.2 million others are dead as a result. Thousands more are dying every day.
None of these crises will end in the next four years, even if the next 24 to 96 hours go well. As president, Joe Biden will have to be pressured, if not fought, at every turn. But if Donald Trump and his counter-majoritarian, anti-democracy party hold onto power, everything is guarnateed to get worse. All hope of surviving climate change will be gone. The personal raping of our national wealth by Trump, his family, and his cronies will be unstoppable. Expert after expert on autocracy and authoritarianism is sounding the alarm. As Masha Gessen said this week, “What's the return from the point of no return? At some point, an autocratic regime can destroy itself only from the inside.”
So, a personal plea. Whatever your concerns about the alternative, whatever your personal feelings about Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, or your state and local races—put them aside today. This is not a moment to throw up our hands and pretend that the only two viable parties are the same, or allow democracy to be gutted and thrown away in the name of civility, or a misbegotten sense of fairness to “both sides.”
For me, there is only one side, and she is in that picture above. My daughter deserves to grow up in a world where she, and the rest of humanity, have a fighting chance at a just survival. Today we will either collectively decide to move toward that goal, or throw it all away.
If you’re American and haven’t voted yet, today’s the day. This is it. You can check your status and find your polling place and hours—or a place to drop off your mail-in ballot—at IWillVote.com
You can also help get others to vote here: 2020 Victory GOTV
If you run into any problems, call the National Democratic Voter Hotline at 1-833-DEM-VOTE.
You can also contact me securely via Signal at 1-540-999-8238, if there’s anything you think a journalist should be looking into.
Let’s do it. See you on the other side.
Jonathan Myerson Katz is a journalist and the author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. His next book will trace the life of Gen. Smedley Butler and the making and breaking of America’s empire. Follow him on Twitter @KatzOnEarth.