The orange idiot's mugshot edition digital trading card.

Looking at the situation in our country it is hard not to be depressed. Everywhere one looks critical needs are ignored, unaddressed problems fester and rational solutions die in partisan gridlock. Hate, anger, division and lies dominate our public discourse. As novelist Barbara Kingsolver wrote, we live in a world of “rewarded evil and murdered goodness.”  

We pride ourselves on being the greatest, most democratic country in the world. But it is hard to see any real democracy in our corrupt, money-dominated political system controlled by only two parties.  

If we had a real democracy we would have more choices. Other parties would actually have a chance of winning. Voters would not be forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. In a better democracy there would be processes – ranked choice voting or equal public funding for all candidates – that would enable better competition and more viable options for voters.  

There are other political parties and independent candidates. But they rarely have the money, media coverage or organizational strength to actually compete. Because of the cost of elections, third-party candidates have little chance of winning. This is especially true for presidential elections. Because of the undemocratic Electoral College, alternative party candidates can siphon enough votes to elect a president without a majority of the national popular vote. But it is essentially impossible for a third-party candidate to win a national election.  

We should be ashamed of our lack of real democracy.   This is especially troubling when both major parties support the same bad polices. The Israeli destruction of Gaza and ongoing genocide of Palestinians is supported by both Biden and Trump and most Democratic and Republican legislators. Both candidates are saber rattling over Taiwan and increasing the chances of a war with China. The aid package for war in Ukraine passed with bipartisan support. Republicans voting against funding the war in Ukraine were opposing Biden and not taking a principled stand for peace.  

We should be ashamed of our country's blatant war mongering. The bipartisan support for the war in Ukraine could blow up into another world war. The bipartisan enabling of Israeli ethnic cleansing and genocide in Gaza is shameful and endangers our nation. Confrontation with China over Taiwan is crazy and can only end badly for everyone. There is no reason to think Trump will be better on foreign policy or avoiding more war.  

I am not saying there is no difference between Biden and Trump or the two major parties. On many issues there are enormous differences with significant personal and global impact for all of us. We have four years of history confirming Trump will be a terrible president. He has been widely acknowledged by experts as the worst president in our history.  

Since Trump entered the presidential race in 2015, political discourse in our country – always ugly, dirty and combative – has hit new vitriolic lows. Trump frequently, viciously attacked and belittled all opponents – Republican or Democrat – while making ridiculous claims about his own abilities. All politicians spin the truth, but Trump is the all-time champion liar. During his four years as president, the Washington Post recorded 30,573 untruthful statements by Trump.  

Trump has a history of inflammatory remarks that promote violence. Like past fascist demagogues, he says, “we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin” in our country. He talks about getting even with those who oppose him. Trump promises to “demolish the deep state,” “rout the fake news media” and “throw off the sick political class that hates our country.”  

More troubling is that Trump doesn't care about anyone but himself. He has no empathy for other people and no concern for the impact of his statements or actions. Everything is about his image and how much he is making from the graft and corruption of his administration. There will be no influencing him when he is wrong. He is (according to himself) a “genius” and “God's chosen one.”  

Trump is an ignorant, venal, narcissistic demagogue – and now a convicted felon. Despite his alleged wealth he is having trouble paying his $100 million in legal bills. He also owes $88 million from a defamation lawsuit involving sexual misconduct. In recent months, Trump has been selling golden sneakers, patriotic Bibles, pieces of the suit he wore for his Georgia arraignment “mugshot” and digital trading cards with his picture in various costumes and of his police mugshot. The man has no shame.   But we should all be ashamed. The Republican party should be ashamed. It is embarrassing that he is even a candidate much less may be elected again.  

Biden may not be your preferred choice for president. But by any measure, he is much better than the alternative. On many issues Biden has done a good job and has been trying to deliver for average Americans. He cares about people. His administration has accomplished a lot despite constant opposition from the Republicans and conservative majority on the Supreme Court.  

On a variety of issues, things are getting better for many people. The economy is improving. Inflation is down to 3.1%. The number of people without health insurance is at an all-time low of 7.2%. Birth control pills are now available over-the-counter without prescription. Violent crime is down. Overtime requirements have been updated to cover more workers. Renewable power is the now the second largest source of electricity after natural gas.  

Biden has tried to strengthen gun control laws. He has repeatedly tried to provide student loan debt relief and to reduce drug prices. Given a cooperative Congress, he could accomplish a lot more.  

Far from being the greatest democracy, we have a deeply flawed, broken electoral system. As a result many citizens will be voting “none of the above” by staying home or voting for a third-party candidate with no chance of winning. No third-party candidate is going to magically come from behind. Protest votes are only going to result in reelecting the worst president in our history. Despite Biden's faults he is the only logical choice.  

It is shameful that with 340 million people we don't have better choices. Unfortunately, this year we do not have the luxury of voting our consciences or for our dreams. We have to vote to avoid our worst nightmare.