Should I hold my nose and vote for the ‘lesser evil’?

By Terry Evans
October 19, 2020

“I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want and get it,” Eugene V. Debs, the presidential candidate for the Socialist Party and supporter of the 1917 Russian Revolution, told working people over a century ago.

Debs’ comments are as true today as they were then, as backers of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden insist workers do the opposite. Both say working people should cast a vote for them because they are the “lesser evil,” despite the unbroken records both have of upholding the rule of the top capitalist families, the class that is responsible for the crisis conditions workers face.

At a rally in Canton, Ohio, in 1918, Debs called on workers to turn their backs on the Republicans and Democrats and to look to our own class and build our own party. “Be true to yourself and to the best you know,” Debs urged, and back a revolutionary working-class party that “stands for a principle and fights for a cause.” He was sent to federal prison for this speech and campaigned for president in 1920 from his cell.

Last month Biden told factory workers in Wisconsin that Trump looks down on them because he thinks he’s “better than you.” Days before, Trump said that Biden’s Democrats “had waged war on the American workers for half a century.” They’re both right.

Whether Biden or Trump wins in November, he will use the presidency to loyally protect the ruling capitalist families who have thrown millions of us out of work, cut wages, sent the elderly to die of coronavirus in nursing homes nationwide, and left workers defenseless against rising inflation — all measures enforced to defend their profits, but increasingly intolerable for working people.

Neither the Democrats nor Republicans offer any proposal aimed at what workers most need — a road to fight to reverse today’s massive joblessness, get millions of us back to work at union-scale pay and provide adequate unemployment relief now for as long as needed until everyone has a job. Instead, both start from what the bosses say is “reasonable” or “possible,” with the overriding aim to defend at all costs the dog-eat-dog private profit system.

In contrast, the Socialist Workers Party presidential ticket of Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett campaigns on a program for workers and our unions to organize to defend ourselves. To speak out and act in the interests of all those exploited and oppressed by capitalism. To unify working people in action. To build our own party, a labor party, to organize us in our millions to take political power into our own hands.

It’s not good intentions, but through working-class struggle that we can gain self-confidence to see ourselves as a class that is capable of making history.

Join us in the final weeks of campaigning to take this perspective — along with the Militant and books by Socialist Workers Party leaders and other revolutionaries — to workers and farmers in cities, towns and rural areas!