If the last presidential election is any indication, as many as 100 million eligible American voters will decide not to vote this year.
If you’re thinking about not voting but would still like to see the current president removed from the White House on January 20, I’d like a quick word.
I’m writing you because of how I felt when I voted the other day. I’ve voted many times before, but this time it felt different. It felt like fighting off an infection.
I began to think about you, the decent person who is also worried sick about America and who wants, needs, to see him gone – but who, for many understandable reasons, might pass up this election.
I only ask for a moment of your time. And for just that moment, to begin to think of him not as this affliction of a president but as COVID-19.
You already know it is devious, ruthless, relentless, frighteningly unpredictable. It wears you down, wears you out, destroys your life, your hopes, plans, dreams. It tears apart families, rips society to shreds, thrives on delusions, causes brain fog.
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It. Doesn’t. Give. A. Shit. If. You. Live. Or. Die.
Nor whether 220,000 Americans live or die.
Nor whether you lose your health insurance. Your job. Your home. Your right to vote.
The affliction doesn’t care about any of it, as long as it keeps rolling along.
You’re a survivor of 2016, right? Trump was able to win with barely 46 percent of the total vote, millions behind the Democrat.
This time, though, Trump has raised the stakes. He says it right out loud: I will not be deterred. I will neither accept nor acknowledge a narrow defeat. I do not intend to go anywhere. I will remain in charge of your life. I will ruin what’s left of it.
Unless there’s a massive, wall-to-wall, undeniable landslide on November 3. It will take nothing less to oust him from the White House.
Think of him as COVID-19. The personal efforts, the individual actions of the members of a crushing majority will be crucial to bringing him down, driving him out.
True, as we saw during his recent hospitalization, this is a man who would literally rather die than give up his power to anyone, at any time, for any reason.
But there is also some reason to take heart. When it comes to this affliction of a president, the vaccine and a cure are already available. Your ballot.
Your ballot will be especially powerful this year. Even in a strongly blue state. Because a landslide is made of individuals. And because the longer he stays in office, the harder he’ll make it to dislodge him by purely electoral means.
Late last month, the day after his televised debate with Joe Biden, the president addressed a rally in Duluth, Minnesota. All but overlooked amid the lies, low blows, snotty “humor,” trash talk and baseless gloating in his endless speech was this:
“Look at all of them [indicating the crowd] – whoa, that’s a lot of people! What are they going to do when in eight, 12, maybe 16 years, I say, ‘Let’s hang it up. Let’s hang it up.’ SIXTEEN MORE YEARS! [cheering and applause]”
This president is far from a man of his word. But on this one specific issue, you can trust his declarations with absolute certainty.
If he wins again, he will stop at nothing in an effort to stay in charge for years and years and years and years and years.
How do I know? Because I live in a country where exactly that has happened.
I live in a country where the prime minister has been in office for the better part of the last quarter of a century. His obsession for staying in office – that is, staying out of jail – has been such that it has impaired his judgment, undermined the foundations of democracy, and imperiled every single person here with the coronavirus.
He doesn’t care.
Benjamin Netanyahu recently learned a new lesson about staying in office forever. After struggling to hold onto his seat after forcing three elections in less than a year, he has forged a new policy: Don’t hold elections unless you absolutely know you will win.
In a country of less than 9 million people, hundreds of thousands are protesting every Saturday night in more than a thousand cities, towns and villages. All for the purpose of getting him out. Why?
For one thing, there’s no other way left for them. They know that at this point, Netanyahu – Trump's best buddy – will only let the people have elections if he can be sure he can’t lose.
America, you don’t want to be where we are right now.
When your president declares that his supporters may “demand that I stay longer” than two terms, and tells a crowd that he might remain in the Oval Office for “maybe 10 to 14 years,” believe him.
Believe him, also, when he praises Chinese President Xi Jinping for doing away with existing term limits. “He’s now president for life. President for life!” he told Republican donors at his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2018. “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
Ever notice that this president sounds different when he’s actually telling the truth?
Vote. It will count. Help make a landslide.
Vote as if the alternative is an affliction likely to last years and years longer than even COVID-19 will. Vote as if the alternative is the current president – for life.
Hands down, though, the president himself just supplied what may be the best argument of all in favor of voting this time.
“Could you imagine if I lose?” he told a rally in Macon, Georgia, on Friday night.
“I’m not going to feel so good – maybe I’ll have to leave the country.”