Washington views on the 2020 election: Running to vote for Biden, even when he's not your top choice
As the 2020 election approaches, KUOW is asking Washington state voters to sound off on the presidential candidates and the issues important to them.
KUOW is presenting these voices as the opinions and the perspectives which inform people's votes in 2020.
Larry Parker: An avid runner and former personal trainer who is now retired and enjoys contributing to, and helping with, Democratic campaigns across the United States.
Issues/perspective: He says he is left of "lefty friends," but remains practical, especially for the 2020 election. While Biden is not his first choice for a presidential candidate, his top priority is to oust Donald Trump from the White House -- so Biden will get his vote.
arry Parker has worn many hats over the years. Before he was a personal trainer and avid runner teaching fitness at a YMCA, he was a substitute teacher, a bus driver, and a stay-at-home dad. Today, his titles are simpler – retired, and a Washington state voter.
"I tend to be left of my lefty friends,” he said. “Always pro-labor ... I'm pro-social support, pro-tax, generally pro looking for what works in the world and implementing that. So I’m pro lots of things.”
Larry's route to a life in the Northwest was not direct. He grew up moving around the United States, and even Thailand, eventually landing in California.
"I followed a woman out to Santa Cruz, California ... and then I met my wife at a hippy square dance," he said with a laugh.
The young married couple decided to settle in the Seattle area with their kids in the '80s. Larry has been voting in Washington state ever since. He says the state's Democrat politicians are decent, even if he doesn't align with them on everything. The standout is Pramila Jayapal, who he says is the best of Washington's representatives in D.C.
Larry has generally favored Bernie Sanders in the past, and appreciates how he has moved the conversation to the left and got people talking about more support for social programs and better access to health care. Ultimately though, he came out in support of Elizabeth Warren in the most recent Democratic presidential primary.
But Larry says that despite his fervor for some issues and candidates, he's pragmatic. In 2016, he supported Hilary Clinton for president. He will be voting for Joe Biden this time around, even though he's not Larry's top choice. That's because there is a bigger issue at hand -- current President Donald Trump.
When talking about politics, Larry doesn't even use the president's name. He only refers to him as "45," noting that Trump is the 45th president of the United States.
“Were I to throw my vote to a third party candidate, however favorably I view their politics, it would be a vote for 45," he said. "I’m not willing to take that risk."
“Nothing can be worse than what we have right now," Larry said. "(Trump) had not been in office very long, but he had done so much enormously hostile things, that one of the members of my fitness class, she had been a teenager in Germany during the Reich, and she walked up to me and grabbed my forearm and said, ‘Oh Larry, I am so frightened. This is so similar to what I lived through in the 1930s.'”
The president is just one portion of the ballot. Larry says he is throwing his political energy into races for the House and Senate across the United States. He is donating to campaigns and even volunteering to mail postcards for candidates. He feels that having more blue in these corners will help balance power and push issues he cares about forward.
His top issues include better health care access. He says the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is "weak tea" but the best we have. He'd like to see Medicare For All become a reality and would like stronger action on climate change. He would also like to see more protections in place amid an "erosion" of voting rights. And finally, he is putting his vote toward candidates who will address racist police practices.
“The Democrats now, and I’d say ever since Bill Clinton, have been very similar to the Republicans of the 1960s," Larry said. "They kind of stopped looking at how they can support working people, and while they are working toward environmental concerns and they do a lot of talk about liberalizing health care, they haven’t done a lot of about taxes, they haven’t done a lot about supporting labor unions. I think that is their big mistake – not consistently working for the working people instead of moving toward a slightly more regulated Capitalism."
Larry promotes tax policies that were weighted more toward the country's high earners in decades past, which he argues was partially responsible for the thriving economy through the '50s and '60s.
"I’m totally in favor of getting Washington to have a state income tax," he said. "I’m dismayed by companies like Amazon and other outrageously large corporations essentially getting away with paying no taxes. So the whole tax system has to be brought back into balance, because people are not respecting the commons and they’re not paying for the underlying infrastructure and people who make it possible for them to make their money.”
“Let’s just say that I can hardly wait until AOC turns 35," Larry said, referring to the New York representative, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. "When it comes down to elections, in the initial run up I will do more left, liberal, progressive selections. But when it gets down to the practicalities of who is getting the votes, who is getting in positions, I always will support pretty much any Democrat. If it’s blue, I’ll vote for it.”