I would prefer to not be writing this.
I know I’m going to get hammered for being a Neo-Liberal tool or a Corporatist Enabler or a half a dozen other terms of endearments that a certain stripe of progressives may see fit to throw my way. And there are a good number of my IRL friends that may be offended.
But Damnit! We are in a time of crisis and while I’m heartened by the sudden uptick in civil engagement that’s happened since Trump took office, if past is indeed prologue, odds are we may squander that momentum. So now, I need to say some words.
A few months back, a post on Medium started to pop up on my Facebook feed. It was called “When Yes isn’t an Option”. It was written by an actress/voice over artist named Tamara Marston. Now full disclosure, I knew Tamara when she lived in Ashland and found her a terrific actress and a charming person.
And it gives me absolutely no pleasure to say that this was the most wrong-headed bits of Amateur Punditry I’ve ever read.
It opens with this…
As the pressure increases to Support Hillary Because Trump, I’ve been feeling a personal statement coming on. It’s one that may well resonate with many of my fellow Bernie supporters.
I’m very, very over the lecturing and scolding along these lines: “Well, that’s fine to like Bernie, but be realistic; don’t be stupid/foolish/selfish/ignorant/irresponsible (etc etc) enough to not vote for Clinton or god forbid support Trump — because it’s the same thing, you know.” Always with the strong inference, stated or un, that it’ll be the fault of me and my ilk if Trump wins.
Some things to note.
We elect our Presidents not with a Popular Vote but with the Electoral College. And as was proved in 2000 with the Bush-Gore election, it is entirely possible to get the majority of votes but still lose. And a lot of us remembered this with a shaking horror boarding on PTSD about how the next eight years played out.
So yeah, A few of us might have been just a tad bit cranky about history repeating itself, this time as farce.
Also, Tamara posted her piece on June 3rd. Three days before the New York Times reported that Clinton had gained enough delegates to cinch the nomination. But close enough to be sure that that would have been the outcome.
The gross irresponsibility is on the heads — and at the choice — of the DNC and the superdelegate party elite, if they charge forward through the ethical crossroads to which they’ve brought the Party and the country. It’s not on the citizens whom they’ve deliberately done their best to deceive, manipulate, and now shame into supporting their deeply unacceptable candidate... OR ELSE.
Forget it. That game’s over, eschewed by both awake, actual “progressives” and essentially the entire rising generation of voters. If it takes both parties crashing to the ground to get that message across clearly to this entrenched, deaf-to-or-supremely-uncaring-about-the-citizenry establishment, let it come.
Hopefully, this private club will pull out of their suicide dive after being so completely called out on their sham of a ‘democratic’ Primary. Hope- fully they’ll do the right thing for the future of the party, the citizens and the country come the Convention.
Let’s unpack this.
First off, the Primary was not “Rigged”.
Via THE NATION. July 29th, 2016.
A search of the WikiLeaks database returns only a handful of e-mails, all benign, mentioning Bernie Sanders before the relationship between the two organizations began to sour in mid-January. The Sanders campaign had been suspicious of the DNC’s neutrality from the start; among Sanders supporters, it was widely believed that the committee had established a debate schedule that would limit Clinton’s exposure and make it difficult for a rival to gain ground. (The DNC claimed that it had only facilitated negotiations between the campaigns and the networks and didn’t dictate the schedule by fiat.) But a turning point came in December when several Sanders campaign staffers took advantage of a software glitch to access the Clinton campaign’s proprietary data, and the DNC responded by suspending the campaign’s access to the database for 24 hours. The organization said that the suspension was required to review the security breach, but Jeff Weaver issued a blistering press release accusing the DNC of “actively attempting to undermine” the campaign. “Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want,” he wrote, “but they are not going to sabotage our campaign.”
As we know, the relationship went downhill from there, and the leaks reveal the degree of contempt that developed between the DNC and the Sanders camp by the end of the campaign. One can certainly argue that DNC officials should have acted more professionally, and handled the controversies that emerged more judiciously. An obvious example came after the brouhaha at the Nevada State Convention, when Wasserman Schultz attacked the Sanders campaign for not condemning his followers “violence.” She compared them to the kind of goons who might attend a Trump rally. But while there was plenty of angry invective at the convention, and some online harassment afterwards, the reports of actual violence proved to be false. The DNC’s characterization infuriated Sanders supporters—it would prove to be one of several unforced errors by the DNC.
Some have also seized on the fact that the DNC leadership seemed pretty sure that Clinton would be the party’s nominee. The e-mails do confirm that the DNC violated party rules requiring officials to remain neutral until a candidate is officially nominated. As Ruby Cramer reported this week for Buzzfeed, “Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee staffers began the gradual process of merging operations and consolidating key campaign functions weeks before the primary ended.” In one exchange in late May, Wasserman Schultz says flatly, “He [Sanders] isn’t going to be president.”
The implication is that they were only so confident because they had a thumb on the scale. But while the DNC clearly broke the rules, by late March it was already clear that Sanders had only a very narrow path to the nomination; by May, he would have had to win every remaining contest by lopsided margins to overtake Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates. When Wasserman Schultz penned that e-mail, most knowledgeable observers, regardless of whom they favored, would have agreed. Neutrality doesn’t require either believing that all candidates have an equal shot of winning, or pretending to believe it.
So while a case can be made that the DNC behaved in an incompetent manner, (And I will totally spot you that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is a miserable twit who couldn’t make a Tuna Fish Sandwich without starting a grease fire.) there’s no case that they “Manipulated” squat. (And before anyone gets on my case for going with a Neo-Liberal source, this is the freaking NATION we’re talking about. They endorsed Bernie so if there was some jiggery-pokery going on, they’d be the first to cry Horseshit.)
If they don’t, they’re likely to successfully prevent the nomination of the strongest candidate, as shown by his astonishing steady, yearlong rise against their expected shoo-in; as proven by his phenomenal continuing momentum, all polling, and the stark demographics showing him clearly to be the future of a Party that calls itself “progressive.” And all this despite every counter-effort on the part of his nominating party. And yes, I do put far less weight on the current, skewed “popular” vote of a citizenry and a primary manipulated to the max from Day 1... not to mention the major voting messes in significant states... and so should the superdelegates, given their sole intended function within the party.
For the record. Clinton won 55.2% of the popular vote while Sanders won 43.1% which came to Three point Seven Million votes more. Now you may not like those figures but they exist and unless you have evidence of actual vote tampering, you don’t get to put less weight on them!
Here’s the thing: Trump has no idea what he’s doing politically. He’s a pugnacious, yapping showdog chasing a slowing car. He won’t have any idea how the damned thing works if he catches it. Once in the Oval Ofifce, he’d need handlers to show him how to work his zipper. If we focus on electing liberal down-ticket candidates, there’s very little Donald Trump could actually do of dire significance in his brief, media-panting tenure. (Yes, depending on how long he makes it, we may have Supreme Court issues. What have we learned in the last year about Advise and [non]Consent? As to the fear tactic of all the dire things we could lose if the wrong Judge goes in (I hear women’s reproductive rights thrown around a lot)... folks, this is still America. We can see in France right now what happens when a government hits the limit of what a very awakened, very mobilized and very motivated citizenry will accept.)
The Clintons, on the other hand, know exactly what they’re doing. They cut their teeth on this political paradigm; their entire careers have been steeped in gaming the ever-more-moneybound system from the get-go; they helped create and solidify — and have vastly benefitted from — the oligarchy our country now factually is.
As we run screaming into month three of this nightmare, does any of the foregoing sound even remotely Goddamn rational? The GOP has both the House and Senate and they have no intention of reining in Trump as long as he signs whatever poisoned slab of legislation they slap in front of him. Mitch McConnell could easily invoke the Nuclear Option, killing the filibuster and getting Gorsuch into the Supreme Court. (At that point, I’m wondering how some of Tamara’s younger female friends are going to feel about her dismissal of losing reproductive rights while they’re trying to McGyver an IUD out of a Guitar Pick and Dental Floss.) Not to mention that every Goddamn fear that you may have had about Clinton is coming true under Trump! Worried about Clinton’s ties to Goldman Sachs? Congrats, his Treasury Secretary is a former Goldman Sachs Partner!!! Concerned about Hillary’s pro-fracking stance? Don’t worry, you’ll never hear about fracking again BECAUSE TRUMP IS ABOLISHING THE GODDAMN EPA!!! And do I even have to go into the gutting of the State Department. Also Nukes! Yeah, we stopped Clinton but put someone objectively worse in her place. It’s like if Linda Tripp made a wish on a Monkey’s Paw.
So when I hear Tamara saying that we shouldn’t worry about Donald Trump, I have to ask, “What is she smoking and will it still be available after Trump guts health care?”.
I really am well aware of the circumstances and plenty informed, I’m guessing a good mile more than the average voter — at 56, I’m more poitically informed and well-read than I’ve ever been in my life.
Oh, then she must have read about how Hate Groups have been on the rise since Trump started running.
The overall number of hate groups likely understates the real level of organized hatred in America as a growing number of extremists operate mainly online and are not formally affiliated with hate groups.
Aside from its annual census of extremist groups, the SPLC found that Trump’s rhetoric reverberated across the nation in other ways. In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.
Also, in a post-election SPLC survey of 10,000 educators, 90 percent said the climate at their schools had been negatively affected by the campaign. Eighty percent described heightened anxiety and fear among students, particularly immigrants, Muslims and African Americans. Numerous teachers reported the use of slurs, derogatory language and extremist symbols in their classrooms.
So I’m sure when Tamera wrote her piece, she took into consideration the societal repercussions of letting a Presidential Candidate who spent his entire campaign pandering to aggrieved white males win, thus empowering said white males to act out their xenophobic rage in words and deeds? Right?
No. Thanks for the lecture and dire, finger-wagging warnings, but if the Party chooses this disastrous, dismissive path despite everything this Primary has shown them, then I’ll choose to vote with my conscience and knowledge and belief that we can do better than this if we demand it. I’ll risk the bumpiness of a brief, bumbling Trump presidency with an entire, very real American Revolution mobilized to bring him down (along with the remnants of the despicable GOP that birthed him).
Before I dig into this section (And piss off a number of friends in the process.) let me lay down some autobiographical background.
Back in 2012, President Obama was starting his re-election run. The previous two years had been rocky. The GOP had the House and was blocking reforms left and right. Obama was getting was getting hammered by his left flank for trying to make a Grand Bargain with John Boehner. And he was still dealing with fallout from his Drone Program. Thing were getting so rough that Bernie Sanders started making the cast that maybe Obama needed to be primaried.
And you know what?
I was kind of with him.
However, in the end, no such primary challenge happened and suddenly, we had Mitt Romney to contend with.
So I sat down and tried to figure out what to do. And this is what I finally came up with…
You unhappy with how Obama been handling energy policy?
The Republicans ain’t going to fix that!
Romney is going in full with a program to make sure we get and burn every last drop of that dirty, dinosaur juice and damn the carbon count!
You see where I’m going with this? No matter what problems you have with Obama, they are not going to be fixed by letting the GOP back in charge.
Does this mean that a Obama second term is going to be all lollipops and blow jobs? No. But a second Obama term with a Democratic led Congress and a Senate that undergoes substantial filibuster reform has more of a shot of getting shit done then the configuration we have now.
Right now, we are on the sixth floor a burning building and we can either get burned to death (Romney.) or we jump out the window. (Obama.)
We still have to worry about hitting the street but at least we’re not on fire.
So, I voted for Obama. And if I had to do it over, given the same set of circumstances, I’d do it again.
But that also means that as an Obama voter, I have to take responsibility for the consequences of his presidency. Including the Drone Program! (Which by the way, would have been continued by Bernie Sanders.)
So, whatever problems you had with Clinton, they were not going to be fixed by electing an unstable, narcissistic jackass who’s right hand men are a white nationalist who looks like Van Morrison if he figured out how to deep fry heroin and a born again talk radio host who thinks THE HANDMAID’S TALE is a cookbook.
So yeah, I’m sure Tamera, a white liberal who I’m assuming has enough resources to ride this out is fine with having President Trump for a while. Unlike..let’s say..Syrian refugees, Transgendered people, Muslin Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Young women, Coal Miners, Senior Citizens, People with chronic long term illnesses and anyone else making under two hundred thousand dollars a year who also happen to be not white. (Although, let’s keep it a hundred, the white ones are pretty much screwed too.)
By the way, if you feel I’m being unduly harsh here, let me just point out that I’m making under $28000 and just got diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and will be directly harmed by the new Health Care Plan. And I’d love to give a damn about her hurty feelings but I’m too busy trying to figure out how to make Insulin in my crock pot.
And her case against Clinton? Well, if you go back to her piece, she doesn’t offer any specific points against Clinton and certainly no links to any articles with supporting arguments. I’m sorry but if you want to convince me not to vote for the only viable candidate standing between us and total disaster, you best come up with something a little more compelling than “But she’s eeevvviiilllll!!!”
And it better be, you know…true. (Keep in mind, there was a metric fuck-ton of phony stories about Clinton floating around during the Election. Follow the link to SNOPES for examples.)
Also keep in mind that after Clinton won, Bernie Sanders was able to leverage his impressive run into a having a major effect on the Democratic Platform.
The draft platform, produced this weekend at a meeting of Clinton and Sanders delegates in Orlando, Florida, still needs to be ratified at the Democratic National Convention. And there, delegates can make amendments and change provisions. But even with that caveat, this document represents a victory for Sanders and his backers, with planks that reflect the aims of his campaign. What did he win? Included in the new platform is his call for a $15 per hour minimum wage, Social Security expansion, a carbon tax to price its impact on the environment, tough language on Wall Street reform and antitrust, opposition to the death penalty, and a “reasoned pathway for future legalization” of marijuana.
That’s not to call this an unqualified success. Clinton delegates blocked a Sanders-favored fracking ban, a “Medicare for all” plank, a call for public financing of elections, an amendment to block lobbyists from serving as regulators (and vice versa), and language that would commit Democrats to pushing “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” in Palestinian territory.
On the whole, however, Sanders won more than he lost, especially given the degree to which the two sides were more simpatico than aligned against each other. Indeed, for as much as coverage emphasized discord between Clinton and Sanders delegates, the real story is the extent to which the entire party has moved to the left, with broad agreement on most issues. Team Clinton and Team Sanders moved in tandem on a whole host of concerns, such as a police-reform plank that committed the party against police militarization and racial profiling (as well as supporting the use of body cameras), “postal banking” that expands banking services to low-income Americans, an end to loopholes for estates and hedge funds, and a stronger Earned Income Tax Credit.
So, bottom line. Sanders was able to get Clinton to move to the left on several issues. And yes, there is no guarantee that a Party Platform can be translated into actual legislation. But given an energized left (Thank you, Bernie!) combined with Sanders and Warren birddogging her the entire term, Odds were that Clinton would have done more good than harm.
And what was the general reaction to this? Did we say “Hooray for Bernie”? Bake him a cake? Get him a lap dance?
Well, I don’t know what it was like on your Facebook Timeline but on mine, you’d think that Bernie announced that Phyllis Schlafly was his side bae. I had people who were Ride and Die for the guy a week earlier screaming “Sell Out” even though he pulled off moving Clinton to more progressive policies which, pardon my nativity, I thought was the whole cock-a-doody point!
Because unless you can craft policies that actually help people, the whole thing becomes a Cult of Personality which is not what I signed up for!
Bernie would have disappointed you.
I don’t mean that as a slam at the guy. I’m a long time fan. Hell, I was a Bernie fan before it was cool to be a Bernie fan. I mean it in the sense that like all humans, Bernie has his flaws and his own way of doing things. And once he started the job, five I’ll get you ten that he would have done something that would have pissed you off and made you disillusioned and butt hurt.
How do I know this?
Because I was alive and conscious during the Obama Campaign and I remember how it went.
And you know something?
All the reactions to Obama were the same as the reactions to Bernie. Obama’s message gained the same kind of traction for the same kind of reasons.
And two years later, the voters gave the House back to the GOP under the mistaken belief that the Democrats needed to be punished for not delivering everything they wanted in Health Care. And the GOP rewarded the voters by cock-blocking most of Obama’s other legislative goals.
Obama disappointed you because he didn’t match the image you had of him in your head. You wanted Jesus Christ. You got Eisenhower.
And you didn’t want Bernie. You wanted the idea of Bernie. You wanted the cranky grandfather with the flaming sword to cut with way though Congress. You wanted an avatar for your anger.
Well, that’s not how this shit works because everything is a process. Like it or not, no matter what the match up is, it’s always the lesser of two evils. That’s just how it is.
We are flawed human beings. We can’t be all good. All we can be is less evil.
We’ve been down this road before.
Don’t believe me? Here are the results from the three states we expected to win. DJT is Trump. HRC is Clinton and JS is Jill Stein.
Now, take a moment and use your calculator. Add Stein’s votes to Clinton’s totals and you know what you get?
In a close election, voting for a third candidate is like jerking off on your taxes. If may make you feel good when you do it but nothing gets done and there’s a big mess to clean up afterwards.
Let me make this clear.
This is our fault.
We had the clearest electoral choice possible, between a flawed but highly qualified candidate and a mentally challenged millionaire with the impulse control of a baby on meth. And we chose badly.
And we need to take responsibility for it,
(And the bitch of is that technically, most of us made the right choice. Just not in the most geographically advantageous way possible.)
(And quick sidebar. As insanely wrong headed as Tamara was, at least she was in the mix. There were about seventy-one million eligible voters who chose not to vote at all. Even after you factor in people who had issues getting to polling places or unable to vote due to various voting restrictions, that’s a huge chunk of indifferent Americans who are about to get sticker shock from the price of that indifference.)
And I don’t to hear another Goddamn word about Hillary Clinton would have been just as bad or worse. If you believe that after all that’s happened in the last three months, then you’re a damned fool. If you don’t believe it but still say it in hopes that a Trump Presidency will “empower” the masses to “Revolution” regardless of the damage it will do to the country, then you’re a fucking nihilist and I don’t even want to know your name.
So yes, I will wag my finger and cluck my tongue. (I can do that. I can multitask.) And I will state out loud what should have been implicit this who past year. When you have a choice between a Fascist and a Viable Non-Fascist, You vote for the Non-Fascist!!!
Now, you may ask yourselves why am I getting all hooped up about this months after the fact?Truthfully, because I was a Goddamn coward.
I should have written this piece in July when Tamara’s missive came over my transom but I didn’t because I didn’t want to piss off any mutual friends we may have.
In retrospect, I should have taken that risk.
I should have loved my friends enough to tell them the truth.
So I’m saying it now.
In a close election, with our current system of The Electoral College, voting for a third party candidate takes votes sway from the Major Candidate closest in ideology to them.
They can’t win and it benefits the opposing candidate.
Doesn’t that suck?
Yeah, it does. But it’s not a grand conspiracy or plot by the Illuminati. It’s just Math. You got a problem with math? Take it up with the Greeks. (Or better yet, support a National Popular Vote that would make it easier for third parties to participate without it turning into a Goddamn Existential Crisis every four years.)
I’m also saying this now because on the off chance we survive this and actually have another Presidential Election (Which honestly, I’m putting our odds at fifty/fifty that we’ll get that shot.) we need to accept that whoever the Dems run will be preferable to who ever the GOP picks to run. Which given the way the GOP has been devolving, will probably be a two hundred pound bag of horse manure with a pair of googly eyes glued to it.
And that’s doesn’t mean you passively sit back. It means you pick the best person possible and then spend the next four to eight years screaming at them not to fuck it up. Which is what we should have done on day one of Obama to counteract the Tea Party. Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted in the uptick of public engagement but it does have a certain “Gets a gym membership after the third heart attack” flavor to it. (Personally, I think you bastards should have hit the streets when Obama refused to prosecute Bush and Cheney for war crimes but you know…whatevas.)
So, in conclusion. Like Tamara, I voted my conscience. I voted for Bernie in the Primaries because his economic policies were more in tune with mine. I voted for Clinton in the General because despite what differences I may have had with her, we’d have a better shot getting stuff done with her then with a vagina grabbing doofus with a head filled with shredded copies of Hustler Magazines and THE TURNER DIARIES.
The math ain’t that hard.
Which is why when Jill Stein invited Bernie to join her on her children’s crusade, he didn’t even return her call. Because he knew all it would do is split the vote and make it easier for Trump to win. Y’all should have listened to Bernie.
He knew what time it was.
Yes is always an option.
As a wise man once said, Purity is for Popes and Prime Ministers.
The rest of us have to play it as it lays.