2020 is almost over, but here in the US, the pandemic’s just getting warmed up. Several vaccines are in the process of approval and early distribution, but it will take months to distribute them to enough people to make a major difference in the spread of COVID-19. In the meantime, the winter spike in confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continues. How we respond to the pandemic over the next few months will determine just how catastrophic a toll it takes on our communities and society.

For better or worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world.

As I’m writing this, the COVID-19 Dashboard reports that over 3 million people have been infected, with over 230,000 cases resulting in death. The U.S. has by far the most infections, with over a million infected and over 60,000 dead.

The effects of the pandemic extend far beyond those infections and deaths. Four billion people have been placed under various shelter-in-place and lockdown orders. This has created dramatic social, economic, and political disruptions, effectively shutting down “business as usual” in much of the world.

Just how long this pandemic will last, and how devastating its toll will be, remains to be seen. However, some U.S. states are now lifting their lockdown orders prematurely, without following World Health Organization guidelines for doing so. This reckless approach to pandemic recovery will likely lead to additional spikes in infections and deaths in the US. That places those of us living in the U.S. in the bizarre and unjust position of having to grapple with major questions about how to recover from this pandemic while we’re still in lockdown, still wanting to stay in lockdown, and still not through the worst of the pandemic yet.

Whether we’re ready or not, though, it’s time for all of us who live in the U.S. to start talking about what pandemic recovery here should look like. People in positions of economic and political power are already talking about it and making plans within plans about it. If any of us want to have input into that recovery process, the time to act is now.

As the saying goes, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu

On February 3, the Iowa caucuses will mark the official start of the 2020 election. While there are technically candidates running against Trump in the Republican presidential primaries, the most contentious race of this primary season will surely be the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.

A large number of Democratic presidential candidates have declared their candidacy to date. As of January 6, 2020, fourteen of these candidates are still in the race. Who will ultimately win the Democratic presidential nomination?

Of course, electoral politics isn’t the only way or best way to create social change. Grassroots organizing at the local and regional level empowers people to create change for themselves, inside and outside of existing systems, rather than waiting for politicians to create change from above. But most grassroots strategies for social change contain at least some electoral component, even if that only involves voting and contacting elected officials about issues rather than campaigning for particular candidates. Therefore, if we’re voting as part of a strategy to change our society for the better, it’s important to talk about who we’re voting for and why.

For months now, I’ve had a serious question on my mind about the Democratic presidential primaries. So far, I haven’t seen anyone else discuss it at length. Therefore, in an effort to clarify my own thoughts and spark meaningful discussion, I’ve decided to pose this question to my readers.

Should “progressive” third-party voters, and other “progressive” people who don’t usually vote for Democrats, vote in the Democratic presidential primaries?