Searching for the Perfect

By: Contributor
27 October, 2020

By Robert J. Silver

As with many of you, my politically progressive friends, Joe Biden was not my first choice to be our national standard bearer. I’d hoped for someone younger, female, a person of color, one with less political baggage, more predictably and passionately progressive, more inspiring, someone quite apart from the unbroken chain of politically center and center-right older men.

That said, I am increasingly dismayed by some of my kindred-spirit progressive allies. Purists among them seem bent on allowing their search for the perfect to become the enemy of the good. But as we all know, there are no perfect candidates, just as there are no perfect human beings. Such a quest is clearly doomed.

We also know that our’s is a two-party system. The only choice this November will be between another four years of the cruel, divisive, meanspirited, self-absorbed, incompetent catastrophe that has been the administration of Donald Trump, or alternatively, the possibile return to some semblance of normalcy with Joe Biden. A Biden presidency brings the prospect and the promise of restored decency, rationality, competence, empathy, and compassion. The illusion of a different path is merely fantasy. There simply is no realistic viable third way.

Faced with protests regarding imperfections of elective office holders and candidates, Tom Hayden’s pithy observation comes to mind. “Politicians do not lead parades,” he said. “Politicians follow them.”
So, once having elected a good yet imperfect individual, it will remain for the people to then initiate the political parade our new President would find himself obliged to follow. That’s how it’s been done before, and that’s how it can happen again.

Let’s not bind ourselves to some illusory ship of state mast of political purity in pursuit of a non-existent perfect candidate. That would be tantamount to a suicide pact. Proponents might willingly go down with that crippled craft. They might even luxuriate in the romantic notion of achieving honor by meeting their deaths with integrity intact. Nevertheless, righteousness presumably preserved, they would still be dead.

We must not celebrate such suicidal thoughts. Effective warriors are not willingly suicidal. In this perilous period, heroic pretence is unaffordable. We need all our allies alive and engaged in the struggle ahead.

Though some of my friends are uncomfortable characterizing the current political conflict as “war,” we are arguably in an all-out struggle for the heart and soul of America, and for the survival of her democracy. General George Patton put the essence of warfare rather succinctly.

No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.
Should my progressive friends decide to sit this war out from some tragically inapplicable sense of principle, they will enable the demise of our democracy.

And let’s stop characterizing this Presidential election as a choice between the lesser of two evils. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All the evil in the contest clearly resides with one of the candidates, the current occupant of the White House. Joe Biden may be many things, and he may not be our first choice, but evil he is not. Honorable, reliable, steady, dedicated, compassionate, empathic are a much better fit.

Won’t my progressive friends follow Senator Sanders’ lead? His full-throated endorsement of the Biden-Harris ticket makes clear that realization of progressive goals can and must be had by electing Joe Biden. It will not come about by holding out for perfection.

Once Joe Bicen becomes President, we must not and we will not stop there. Our work will only have just begun. Following closely on the heels of a hoped-for Biden-Harris victory, dedicated progressives must then commit to helping Joe Biden become the President of our dreams. In this, our American democracy’s time of peril, let’s agree to assemble a massive, ongoing, post-election peoples parade. But first, let’s do whatever is required to elect the Biden-Harris ticket and all down-ballot Democratic Party candidates.

Having sold our country out and compromised its very soul, Donald Trump must not be allowed another four years in office. For me and for many, the danger of his remaining in office is unimaginably horrific. It would likely mark the end of our American democracy. Hopefully, progressives will fully support the good yet imperfect Joe Biden and not allow this to happen.
Robert J. Silver lives in Taos.