Back in 2018, when I was still living in Berkeley, I was really having a difficult time deciding who to vote for in a D-on-D assembly race between Buffy Wicks and Jovanka Beckles. Both seemed like solid people I'd be happy to have representing me in Sacramento, and I struggled to find much distinguishing the two.
Until I learned that Beckles had voted for Jill Stein in 2016. Suddenly, a hard choice became very easy. Wicks gets my vote (and she went on to win the election).
Fast forward a few years, to 2022. I now live in Oregon, a pretty reliably blue state. Except this year, our gubernatorial race includes not just the standard D-R matchup between Democrat Tina Kotek and Republican Christine Drazan. It also includes a well-financed "independent" candidate -- former Democratic State Senator Betsy Johnson,* well-known as among the most conservative Democrats in the caucus. Johnson, who has called Portland a "city of roaches", ran expressly because she couldn't tolerate a more liberal Democrat being the party's standard-bearer. Polling suggests an extremely tight race, and Johnson 's presence on the ballot could let the Republican slip into the governor's mansion with barely 30% of the vote.
The very thought makes me livid. The idea that in Oregon, in 2022, we might have a Republican Governor because some egomaniacal blue dog Dem just couldn't back her party's nominee is outrageous.
Among Johnson's endorsers is outgoing Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader, in an obvious sore-loser move after he lost his primary to challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner. I couldn't vote in that election -- I now live in Schrader's district, but I moved here a few weeks after the election -- and I certainly understood the pragmatic argument in favor of Schrader in a swing-y district. But Schrader himself? Absolutely dead to me. I shed zero tears for his demise.
There is nothing I have more contempt for than a nominal Democrat supporting a third party in a contested general election. It is terrible if it is a "from the left" protest vote for a middle-of-three-evils like Jill Stein. It is terrible if it is a "from the center" chin-stroker vote because the Democrat is "just too radical".
The current iteration of the Republican Party is a hairsbreadth away from being actual fascists. Stopping them from attaining political power is a moral obligation of the highest order. Very, very few things can trump that obligation. I can think of essentially no significant Democratic figure whose views or practices are so noxious as to trump that obligation. Yes, that includes every single member of the Squad. Yes, that includes Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and Henry Cuellar. I don't care how annoying you find them. I don't care how valid your grievances are against them. None of them are worse than your typical 21st century Republican. If they are the general election nominee, and they're running against a Republican, you vote for them, and you do it with a smile.
* In researching this post, I learned the ultimate terrible fact: Johnson is a Carleton College alum. She also got her J.D. at Lewis & Clark. I am devastated.