Non-voters: Shame on you.
For the most part, I do not blame or despise people who voted for Donald Trump. I disagree with them profoundly; I am baffled that they could vote for a man with such poor character—but I believe in democracy and it would be hypocritical of me to hate them. I actually get that many of them felt they’d been ignored, and that this was the only guy listening to them; they’re angry, and I get that too.
Again: profoundly disagree.
I’ll tell you who I blame for Donald Trump’s presidency: I blame Democrats who did not vote. I blame progressives who embraced the preposterous notion that there was little difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and decided to sit out the election.
We saw a similar thing in 2000, when many progressives declined to vote for Al Gore. Don’t like the Iraq War? Blame the 2.8 million people who voted for Ralph Nader, or the 5-plus million who chose not to vote.
I’m not writing here today to defend Al Gore or Hillary Clinton (and I concede that both ran lousy campaigns). I’m writing to defend the idea that our democracy is still functioning, and that it is your and every American’s responsibility to vote.
I am addressing this mostly to members of my own tribe: progressive Democrats. I know some of you have become convinced that all politicians are corrupt. The bumper sticker has been around for a long time: “Don’t vote, it only encourages them.” As someone who has spent a fair amount of time reporting on politicians, and has gotten to know quite a few of them, Democrats and Republicans, over many years, I have come to believe that the vast majority of them are honorable people trying to do good. Some of them, alas, have some very bad ideas on how to do that, as we can see everywhere we look.
Next Tuesday, we in the Sacramento region have many important choices to make. There are a bunch of very good candidates, and one flawed candidate who deserves your vote nevertheless.
This is one of the most consequential primaries in years and could result in major shifts in policy at every level of government. During the last off-year primary, fewer than 25 percent of you voted. Shame.
(If you are a Trump supporter, it’s okay with me if you don’t vote. I mean it.)