Here’s a hypothetical question.
Let’s say it’s lunchtime. You have lunch just about every four years. And you’re hungry! It’s been a while since last time. And your last meal was… good. But it wasn’t as good as you’d hoped. Didn’t do everything you’d wanted. Like, you’d kind of hoped you get some sides, or that somehow your meal would solve racism. But anyway, it’s time to get some food.
And let’s say, after a bunch of thought and narrowing down your choices as you travel the buffet line, you have a couple of choices:
Choice A): a lunch that’s sort of similar to the meal you had earlier. It’s… it’s OK. Been around for a bit. You’ve had a variation on this lunch a while back, and it was fine! Well, there were some nasty aftertaste. But if you got this lunch, this new lunch, it’d be all right. It would continue some of the themes of your earlier meal, and have some new flavors, too, and you know, it’d be pretty OK.
Now, there are some issues with this meal. It’s not perfect, not by a long shot. And there was this other lunch place, and it looked really great. It even pushed your Choice A to do a little better on some important food issues. But this other spot, it’s not very competitive everywhere, and it seems more focused on food ideas rather than food substance. So right now, Choice A is winning out.
(We’re not talking about food.)
Donald Trump — a piece of literal, actual plague-infected shit on toast — has gained in popularity nationwide, perhaps speaking to our capacity for inanity or the fact that some people enjoy literal, actual plague-infected shit. But Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s supporters are dangerous and deeply troubling. Donald Trump and his so-called policies are bad, and wrong, and bad for our kids and our neighbors and our former grade school teachers, and no one, not one person, should be subjected to them or even in the same zip code without some sort of waiver being signed.
This is an easy choice. You would think that, obviously, an OK candidate with room for improvement is better than subjecting the country to a candidate that has the potential to — and likely would — ruin your life and the lives of the people whom you love.
You would think that. And yet some people, some people are saying that if everyone chooses a Donald Trump, that would be good for America! Not because they like Donald Trump, of course, but because they liked Bernie Sanders, and he lost. And they really, really liked him. And their theory is that maybe, if Donald Trump is president, everyone will HATE IT so much, they’ll come running to Bernie Sanders. Even in the reddest of red states, they’ll sprint to the Left and vote for liberal candidates down the line. They just have to endure a Donald Trump presidency to get their priorities straight, some believe. Then they’ll learn, and they’ll be grateful. Like in 2008, when Democrats responded to the Bush administration’s foibles (like, say, the war in Iraq) by winning the largest share of party ID in more than 20 years.*
But here’s the thing: The American people will still have eaten a piece of literal, actual plague-infected shit on toast. They’ll still have elected Donald Trump as president.
Allow me to be perfectly clear: Donald Trump would be a horrific, terrible, no-good president. He would put religious and ethnic minorities at risk, favors import taxes that would make trade unworkable, thinks that women are nothing but mildly entertaining sex bags, and would continue virtually every single one of the policies ordinary pieces of shit on toast have been advancing at the state and federal level. His foreign policy knowledge is, at best, imaginary. Donald Trump respects neither institutions nor people, and his presidency would be a historic low point for our country. There is no victory here, for anyone. It would be “that bad.”
Now, statistically, some people would do OK under the Donald Trump administration! Those people would be able to get by, and their families would survive, and maybe even thrive. And maybe they’d have, say, four years to just hang out until we got to vote out Donald Trump and return him to the satanic boarding school from whence he came. It’d be all right. For them.
But they’re not everyone. They’re not people already on the fringes, or LGBT and gender-nonconforming people. They’re not black people, or immigrants, or people living from paycheck to paycheck, or on food stamps or welfare, or in need of an abortion, or desperate for help with an addiction, or journalists and dissenters.
They’re not most people, actually, because most people don’t have four years of their lives to give up to a president who yearns for power and runs on hate. Most people don’t live in liberal enclaves, secure in the knowledge that life will remain much as it always has under a Trump presidency. Most people don’t have that privilege — and it is a privilege — as loaded as that word has somehow become: It’s a literal, actual privilege to live your life without concern for repercussions because of who you are, whom you love, what you believe, or where you’re from.
There’s no decision here. There’s no real choice. There’s just whether you think that other people, people with whom you live or work, or even people whom you will never meet, matter. Whether you think four years of a family’s life is worth making a political point that, by the way, might not work! Whether you think about other people very much at all.
Or if you don’t.
*Based on history, of course, this means that President Bernie Sanders faces a massive GOP resurgence in 2022.