In most of my conversations, debates… arguments, about this year’s presidential election and expressing my not voting for Clinton, they have usually come down to the other person trying to tell me how awful Trump is and how qualified Clinton is. And then I express agreement on these, and try to express my actual reasons for not voting for Clinton, the conversation usually breaks down, and it for some reason defaults back to telling me how awful Trump is. So before I explain a. Why I no longer hate Clinton, and b. Why I’m still likely not voting for her, let me clarify a couple of points beyond question so that no time needs to be wasted beating dead horses:
1. Trump is awful.
“Awful” isn’t even close to the right word. Not sure there is a right word in English for what Trump is. As politely as possible, he would absolutely be the worst thing ever to happen to the US. Take every bad president from Andrew Jackson to Herbert Hoover to Richard Nixon to G.W. Bush and then increase the horrible ten-fold and that’s still better than Trump. When people bring up Hitler and Nazis in an argument, that’s usually a Godwin and a ridiculous end of conversation. In Trump’s case, comparisons are quite apt. His rise and ideological beliefs, as well as being a megalomaniacal sociopath, are spot on. He’s a racist, bigoted, ignorant, narcissistic, pathological liar with delusions of grandeur and is barely competent enough to be on reality TV, absolutely not in any position of power.
So please, if you have any desire to explain to me how awful it would be for his as president, please refer back to point 1. and realize I get it already. It would be. No disagreement.
2. Clinton is competent.
Even back when I despised her, I still never ever said she wasn’t competent. She’s eminently competent to be President of the USA. In fact, while Trump may be the very worst candidate ever (I don’t know, maybe whoever ran against Herbert Hoover was worse…), Clinton is likely the most qualified person to run since… I don’t know, since maybe FDR. She’s served in congress, she was Secretary of State, she’s been incredibly successful in business, in diplomacy, in war. And while I hate her manner of speaking in public, that means nothing in whether she’s capable of being president. She has the background, the education, the experience, the temperament needed for the office. And I never said she didn’t.
So please, if you have any desire to explain to me that she’s qualified, refer to this point 2. and realize I understand that and completely agree.
Why I Hated Clinton.
- She was a lying liar.
Up until a few weeks ago I had her pegged as the worst lying liar. That was half the reason for my hatred. I knew her to be as much a liar as the worst of them, completely untrustworthy. And, in fact, there are indeed videos of her saying on record one thing and then later claiming the opposite, and even denying saying the original. Claiming she didn’t have a stance she had, or seemingly fabricating events. On video. You can find them. And that absolutely cemented my opinion that she’s the worst of the lot!
But then something happened: Non-partisan fact checkers did their job, researched her statements and claims throughout the primaries, and found that of all the candidates in all parties, she was actually the most honest. (Depending on which metric is most prominent: “completely true” or “mostly true,” she even squeaked past Bernie Sanders!) Fact check after fact check. Article after article, showing that, no, she’s not a paragon of truth, but that she’s absolutely not the worst, or even among the worst, or even half bad. The worst that can be said of her, is that she’s the least lying politician of the bunch.
So, if one wants to say, “Clinton, the lying liar,” by all reputable metrics and standards, you would have to add that qualification on every politician you refer to (including Sanders). And that’s just ridiculous. So while yes, she lies (i.e. she’s a politician), she’s the least lying of them all and so I can no longer use that as a reason to dislike her (any more than I dislike any politician, in principle).
- She stands for everything I hate in the oligarchy/corporatocracy.
Fundamentally this hasn’t changed at its core: Hillary is no question about it, the establishment’s candidate who still works for the 1% that own and run the government (essentially, not literally — it’s not some conspiracy theory), and the corporations who have more say and power than the people.
That said, she’s not nearly as much a tool as I blamed her of being. I’m not here to convince anyone, just explain myself, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time looking for the links, but in recent weeks I have read several articles by respected journalists and publications with reasonably unbiased slants, explain with facts her record as a senator. She did not in fact cow-tow and arsekiss half as much as I thought to corporate lobbyists and interests. Her record shows that, much of the time, despite being the representative of the state Wall Street belongs to, she stayed mostly neutral on bills that were pro-corporations and benefiting the wealthy. She doesn’t have a Bernie Sanders-esque liberal, or very liberal at all, record. But she’s very much centrist and marginally right-of-center when it comes to financial, banking, Wall Street issues. Not the terrible bulldog for the oligarchy I had thought. We’ll get more into this topic in a bit, but just suffice it to say right now, that all things considered, her record’s not horrible on financial issues and I can’t really hang my hat on that as a reason to not vote for her, like I thought.
So why not vote her??
Okay, so now this is where it gets messy and deals with issues of ideology — which sometimes deals with different but mutually valid ideas that just need to be accepted as different. A topic that even we liberals, who are generally better at accepting different ideas from their own, have a difficult time with.
- Voting itself is tyranny of the majority.
Much of my ideology is anarchistic. Much of my ethos sides with the idea that democracy itself is inherently criminal and unjust, and its tool of voting for something where non-unanimous decisions are forced upon those who vote differently, is coercion and violent. This idea is easily seen when the people of California in an exercise of “democracy,” voted away marriage equality the equal rights (“Prop 8”). The fact that that decision was overturned later doesn’t change the fact that the rights and privileges of a minority are controlled by the vote of the majority, and that’s inherently coercive and unethical.
I’m not going to spend much time on this, but if you’re interested, please read this article: http://www.crimethinc.com/texts/r/partys-over/.
However, I’m a bad anarchist. I don’t stick to the extremes of the ideology, I’m more into anarcho-syndaclism with a heaping side of Democratic Socialism. I really would rather not have violent revolution (which, may actually be the only way we finally get rid of the oligarchy as no one, ever, willingly allows people to vote away their power). I’m naive and delusional enough to think that maybe, just maybe, we can actually use the existing system to dismantle the oligarchy, even the patriarchy, create a more egalitarian and fair system, and not shed blood.
And that, right there, remember that, as it is the cornerstone of my decisions on who to vote for. Well, that’s a solid half, which we’ll come back to, and ties directly into my next point:
- Vote for who represents you, not who is the least vile.
I’ll admit I don’t know enough political science to know just what the “founding fathers” intended with voting. I know the Federalist Papers are easily available, and even just that could probably lend insight. But regardless, it really doesn’t matter what they intended (because let’s be honest, we do know for a fact they did intend for white male landowners to have all the power, and black people to be counted as fractional people. So, even though they were wise enough to build into the Constitution the means of changing the Constitution, they were products of their time and culture and shouldn’t be held up as paragons of virtue and wisdom!)
Whether they intended this or not, I feel with absolute conviction that if we have to vote, if we have to cast an arguably worthless symbolic “voice” into the din, then one’s vote for democratic representative should be for the person who most represents them, their values, their ideals. And for me, Bernie Sanders is the first, possibly the only politician I’ve seen, who actually represents me and my ideals.
Of course, this is a two-edged sword. If people actually did that, really voted for their own self-interest, we would very likely have Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee. However, that is also why the people on the other “side” got Trump. Those people have no problems voting for someone they think represents them, regardless of how awful he is.
And maybe in a two-party system, voting for the lesser evil is the best we can do. If that’s the case, then that just proves the system itself is corrupt, broken, controlled by other interests, does not serve the people, and must be dismantled.
However, remember my cornerstone point: I’m naive and delusional enough to think that maybe, just maybe, we can actually use the existing system to dismantle the oligarchy, even the patriarchy, create a more egalitarian and fair system, and not shed blood. That becomes relevant to my decision not to vote for Clinton despite my thinking she’s okay, and Trump is New Hitler, here…
- “But if Clinton doesn’t win, LGBTQ and women’s and ‘racial’ rights and progress will be destroyed! Why do you hate these people?”
Here’s part of the reason why, in the first place, I seriously doubt Trump being in office would be the apocalyptic nightmare, regardless of him being the worst. First of all, social progress, in general, is marching on! Despite the people of California voting away gay rights, it was overturned. Despite the attempts of many conservative states and legislatures, marriage equality is the norm. Transgender rights are now being attacked, but despite conservative hatred, progress is slowly being made, at the state level.
The Wall with Mexico is literally impossible, so no matter what Trump promises, that’s not going to happen.
A president actually can’t just push a button and launch nukes. It has to be authorized by the Joint Chiefs and military heads who wouldn’t let that happen just because.
There’s no guarantee that his supreme court nominations would even be approved (especially by a Democrat controlled congress), and if so, no guarantee that they’d make evil decisions. The liberal justices on there now have surprised me with supporting Citizen’s United and the decision to let police off the hook for actions taken while being ignorant of the law. And conservative justices have surprised me by upholding privacy rights and marriage equality. So Trump in office does not guarantee everything goes to hell.
And in fact, while I am not a “watch the world burn” kind of guy, his getting elected could actually galvanize the left, and be a catalyst for real, deep, progressive changes! It’s usually the case that the left is generally inactive and complacent when things are only kinda bad. Bad really pull it together finally when something really bad happens (at least for a while). Trump in office could actually trigger a serious non-violent rebellion that could ultimately improve social progress by a leap and a bound, instead of struggling inches.
And in that same vein, voting for Clinton in order to protect the progress made, is simply more kicking the can of change down the road. “Oh, this time is different! We have to make sure Trump doesn’t get in, then, maybe, next election, we can support real change. Status quo is better than the alternative, right?” Well, that’s a game we’ve been playing for decades. Let’s just not vote for That Guy this time, and and then maybe next time we can do something big to make real change.
Except the powers that be, the RNC and DNC, do not give us that opportunity to vote for anything else except for lesser evils (at the national level). This year is the first time a legitimately progressive, qualified candidate from outside the DNC became a valid and possible option! (And the fact he had to sell out and get the support of the DNC, which very publicly and on record declared they didn’t like him, didn’t want him, was working for the establishment candidate, just shows how much control the two wealth-based political parties have.) This was the time a real choice for change could have been made, but people sided with the “more electable choice.” (Which is ironic since if the people who wanted to vote for Sanders but voted for the “electable choice” actually voted for Sanders, there’s little doubt he’d have the nomination.)
Anyway, my main point is this:
- A “protest vote” for Sanders IS an act of benefit for LGBTQ, women, people of color, and the people in general.
Point of fact: Most analysts and pundits and insiders agree that because of Sanders, Clinton moved to the left more than she would have. That after he conceded, the DNC and Clinton deigned to let him in and work together on the party platform — which is one of the most liberal and progressive Democratic platforms in decades. It took significantly from his campaign. Sanders influenced the Democrats, and Clinton, to be at least a little more progressive than they otherwise would have.
Now, here’s where I get involved in as much “game playing” as I accuse people who only vote for “the more electable person who’s not the Other Guy” of being… I live in Oregon, a state that has sent its electoral votes without fail for the Democratic candidate since 1988. And all polling indicates there is absolutely no question at all where Oregon is going this election. Clinton is getting Oregon, period.
However, Oregon is also one of the few states with completely open write-in option for president. Whereas my vote for Clinton wouldn’t matter a whit, and not voting at all would make no difference, my write-in vote for Sanders would be one tiny nearly invisible drop in small bucket of people who may do likewise, who may vote their conscience and ethics and ideals and still vote for the better candidate. Maybe just enough to make an amount that can’t be ignored. 2%? Maybe even 4%? Goodness willing, possibly 6%?
In Oregon in 2000, 5% of the vote went for Ralph Nader and the Oregon popular and electoral vote still went to Al Gore — Nader did not “steal” anything from Gore in Oregon, and that was a close race. Writing in for Sanders isn’t going to “steal” anything from Clinton in this race where the margin is right now so huge, people are already calling the election in her favor.
What might happen if Sanders actually got a statistically significant amount of votes in states where people can still vote for him? If his running against Clinton can “send a message” enough to make her and the party move to the left, it’s possible his noticeable write-in presence could influence the party even more. And that would mean a greater mandate for the left to keep pushing for equal rights, pushing for progress in social issues for LGBTQ and people of color and women. And students and the poor and people who need medical care, etc. And, also, give him greater clout to get more influential power within the party and Washington, where his continued work for everyone except the 1% will have an effect.
If the race were close in Oregon, you know, I would actually vote for Clinton. And I would do so with the anarchist in me screaming bloody murder for even voting at all, but the Democratic Socialist in me shrugging and saying, “eh, that’s cool,” and I’d feel little ethical shame. But it’s not going to be close, it’s going to be a landslide for Clinton. So yeah, you can blame it on white cis-male privilege that I can vote how I actually want to, but my write-in vote for Sanders is actually still a valid and useful vote for equality and social change and progress. And if I do vote that way, I will feel good that I used my infinitesimal useless civic voice to add to a statement that could make an already not horrible Clinton administration a bit better because of it.