Commentary: Barry Hermanson

Voting Against, not for a Candidate  

By Barry Hermanson

The November election is not far away. My first vote for president was in 1972. Most elections since then, I voted against rather than for a candidate. 

“Tens of millions of registered voters did not cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election, and the share who cited a ‘dislike of the candidates or campaign issues’ as their main reason for not participating reached a new high of 25%,” according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new Census Bureau data.  

Even if you don’t like the choices or believe voting doesn’t matter, I hope you will vote against, not for a candidate, this November. Don’t leave your choice blank.  

What are our choices? Trump is driving us toward a cliff at full throttle. Biden will take us there a little more slowly. If forced to choose between Trump and Biden, I’ll admit, I’m not suicidal. I will vote. Why should anyone have to make that terrible choice?  Persuading Democrats to take their feet off the gas is our job if Biden wins. Voting and reminding those around you to vote is your job until then.  

For information on voting in your state visit  Download and share their voting plan.  It provides state-by-state information about:

Voter Registration deadlines.

In-person early voting

Vote by mail

Date the ballot is processed

Date the ballot is counted

State election website

Links to track your ballot

Democrats have recently succeeded in blocking Green Party petitions to get on the ballot in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two of the three states Hillary Clinton narrowly lost in 2016.  Democrats refuse to take any responsibility for those losses. They will tell you: Jill Stein on the ballot is the reason Hillary lost. It is easier to blame Greens than providing a compelling reason for non-voters to vote. There will be no one to blame but Democrats if they lose this one.

I want  to vote for a candidate for president who is an advocate for the environment. Trump refuses to believe we have a problem. Biden has no sense of urgency. Trump refers to Biden as “Sleepy Joe”. Joe Biden, to his credit, appears to be slowly waking up to the magnitude of the environmental crisis we face.

Biden opposes national health care. Trump is working to overturn Obamacare. Biden advocates for increased military spending from the current Trump budget. This is one of the few issues where Biden is a worse choice than Trump. Both of their proposals fund a bloated military that provides protection to corporate trade interests.  Number one is to insure the safe movement of oil. Voting against Trump is not a mandate for Biden.  

We need national leadership now! More candidates’ voices need to be heard, not just two who represent major corporate and donor interests. If Trump and Biden are the only choices I have, I will vote against, not for a candidate.  

All across the country, Republicans are working to make it harder for you to vote. President Trump said earlier this year that if it were easier to vote, Republicans would never be elected again. This once, I don’t think he is lying.  

Reports of people waiting in lines at early voting places are encouraging.  

“California has registered 21 million voters this year, recording the highest rate of registration since the election of 1940,” according to a report from voter data firm Political Data, Inc.


Update on a previous column, “The Most Shocking and Inhumane.”

The week of Nov. 10, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case brought by Republicans seeking to overturn Obamacare. Trump’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is projected to support overturning the law. The Economic Policy Institute reports the impact:

“Across the country, 29.8 million people would lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act were repealed – more than doubling the number of people without health insurance. And 1.2 million jobs would be lost – not just in health care but across the board.“

The web page has information about the number of people who will lose insurance in your state and also the number who will lose their jobs.  

In the middle of a pandemic, there is legislative silence on providing Californians with better health care. Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently established Healthy California for All Commission has decided not to meet again until next February. Their final report was due in February. There will be no legislative action in 2021 while the commission is meeting.  Legislators don’t want to take action.

Reasons given for not meeting until February: “By that time we should know more about California’s economy, a critical element to any state proposal for health reform, as well as know more about the national landscape.” 

Meanwhile, lives are lost every day, not only to this pandemic, but to the many more caused by for-profit health care. Shocking and inhumane.  

Winning universal health care will be achieved at a state level before we win it nationally. In California, polls show very strong support. Yet, no legislator is authoring health care legislation.    

Democratic legislators in Sacramento have twice used their super majorities in the Assembly and Senate to pass Medicare for All bills knowing a Republican governor would veto it.  When former Gov. Jerry Brown was elected and Obamacare was passed, legislative action shifted to incremental improvements.

Democrats in Sacramento could take action. They don’t want to. As a candidate for Governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom claimed to be an advocate for an Improved Medicare for All.  My representatives in the Assembly and Senate both claim to be advocates. One, before he was elected, said it was a personal issue. Like Trump, I think they are lying.  

The massive fires in California have inspired an environmental Executive Action by the governor and the crafting of legislation by a state senator. Both negatively impact major Democratic Party donors. The healthcare industry is also a major donor and lobbyist in Sacramento. What does it take for legislators to wake up to the health care crisis we face?  

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is top-down on the issue of health care reform. National leadership dictates the agenda. Corporate interests are protected.

I joined this fight 20 years ago as a member of Single Payer Now (SPN). SPN founder Don Bechler has always said this will be determined at the ballot box. I agree. Too many politicians in both parties take donations from the health care industry.

Don also says we need to identify five million voters as supporters. More than 14 million voted in the last presidential election in California. It takes 50% + 1 to win. 

Polls indicate we have the support to win. Can we identify seven million California voters?  That is our challenge. It is the only way we will win better health care at a lower price for everyone in California. It is an enormous organizing challenge  In the meantime, please vote.

Barry Hermanson is a: Green Party of California Coordinating Committee member, GPCA representative to Healthy California Now, a statewide coalition of organizations and activists dedicated to establishing a single-payer Medicare For All system in California and a former small business owner .

Contact him at or (415) 255-9494.

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