We fight them at the ballot box so we don’t have to fight them in the streets.

Regular readers know how angry and saddened I am at Democratic leadership that gave us Joe Biden as the nominee. And still, I think it’s important than everyone who can stomach voting for him does so, even if your politics better align with a third party and even if you live in a red state.

In fact, it’s especially important that support for Biden is communicated to the Republicans around you, including state-level Republicans. Your blue vote matters more in a red state than it does in a blue one right now.

Here’s why:

Biden has a terrible ground game, a pattern established during the primary when he simply relied on other moderates rounding up voters for him rather than opening his own field offices. His campaign has rejected door knocking, saying it doesn’t work, but he’s also not meeting with media. If this a strategic choice to give Trump space to implode without risking one of the gaffes Biden is known for, it’s working. But it is also depriving Americans of what they really want: a vision of a future that inspires hope. It’s part of the laziness and entitlement that has characterized Biden’s political career.

The consequence isn’t merely the notable enthusiasm gap between the candidates. It’s that Biden voters, unlike Trump voters, aren’t being primed to fight a contested outcome.

Trump voters have been being told for months now to prepare to fight for Dear Leader. Almost a year before the election, Mike Huckabee floated the idea that Trump was “owed” an illegal third term. Earlier this month, Trump (who surely doesn’t understand government well enough to have come up with this scheme himself) suggested that the Republican party could bypass the popular vote entirely and simply appoint loyal electors. He’s encouraged voter fraud in order to undermine confidence in the vote while also making wild and unfounded accusations about absentee and drop off voting. He told violent white nationalists to “stand by”, encourages voter intimidation, and legitimizes domestic terrorism (and, let’s be honest, sexual assault) against women leaders.

These are all ways of priming rightwingers to prepare to fight any election outcome that doesn’t put Trump in office. Biden’s campaigning ought to be preparing those who love democracy to likewise fight for an honest election.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor
Above, voters line up in a long line, using the painted lines of a parking lot to remind them to stay apart, in Fort Worth, Texas.

It’s not. Worse, BLM protests and rallies that could be ways of helping new protestors practice the work of street-level protest are often failed by Democratic leadership. Even as 60% of white Democrats see police brutality as a serious concern, Biden is consistently careful to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable kinds of protest and scold those who get out of hand, as if Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high” advice won has ever won a single election.

This is why it’s important that every one who can stomach voting for Biden (which is not the same as stomaching Biden; I mean, if you can check the box next to his name without being physically ill, do it.) do so.

Biden himself isn’t whipping up voters, rallying the troops, teaching people how to protest, building bail funds, or otherwise preparing us to fight for a fair election. We have to do it ourselves.

But maybe we would have to protest if we beat Trump so thoroughly at the ballot box that even his best friends see a fight as useless–not because they can’t figure out how to game the electoral college but because they fear millions of protestors.

These voices have to be especially strong in red states. Here, it’s easy enough for Republican politicians to assume that everyone votes like them. Trump won West Virginia with 68.5% of the vote in 2016, his largest share of any state vote. But he won Utah, where third party candidate Evan McMullen earned 21% of the vote, without capturing the plurality of the vote. Republican leaders and Republican voters–including your neighbors in red states ranging from Utah to West Virginia–who would otherwise take to the streets need to know that doing so would be useless. Voting in large numbers for Biden means reminding them that they are outnumbered.

The long lines of voters are doing that. They’re telling Republicans that we’re serious about Trump’s removal. Voting is patriotic, and when Republicans use voter suppression tactics–including limiting drop off voting–to make it more difficult, each vote signals even more the serious intentions of the person who cast it.

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