Sunday, September 25, 2016

Yeah, If You Live In A State Where Trump Has A Chance, Just Hold Your Nose And Vote For Hillary... You'll Live


This week The Nation features dueling perspectives on voting for Jill Stein, Kshama Sawant's Don't Waste Your Vote On The Corporate Agenda-- Vote For Jill Stein And The Greens and Joshua Holland's Your Vote For Jill Stein Is A Wasted Vote. Unless Trump suddenly looks like he's going to have any chance of winning in California-- Clinton is up by an average of just over 19 points here-- I plan to, once again, vote for Jill Stein. Obviously, I don't expect her to win. It's simply a protest vote to send the Democrats a message that their dishonest corporate candidate is not acceptable to me. Yes, she's much, much, much preferable to Trump. So would a steaming pile of dog poop, but, unlike Divine, I'll respectfully pass on eating it. Unless you want the Democratic Party to just keep on nominating candidates like Clinton (up and down the ballot) you won't vote for her in any state that is safe from the Trumpist contagion. I have now switched my position enough to say that if I lived in Ohio or Florida or North Carolina or any state that could be a firewall against Trump, I would unhesitatingly vote for Hillary. That said, I don't represent Holland's assurance that between 75 and 90% of those who say that they’re planning to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November won’t follow through and that the her support "is an expression of contempt for the Democrats that evaporates in the voting booth." If I voted for her instead of Obama last time, you can count on me not voting for Clinton this time. I'm not a typical voter though. Holland makes a pointless effort to bash the Green Party, pointless to me at least, since I see them-- at this point at least-- as nothing other than a vehicle to protest unbearable Democratic Party corporatism and corruption.

"Many Greens," he concludes, "think that their vote isn’t wasted because it sends a powerful 'message' to Washington. But why would anyone in power pay attention to the 0.36 percent of the popular vote that Jill Stein won in 2012, when 42 percent of eligible voters just stayed home? Political parties are merely vessels. The Green Party provides a forum to demonstrate ideological purity and contempt for 'the system.' But the Democratic Party is a center of real power in this country. For all its flaws, and for all the work still to be done, it offers a viable means of advancing progressive goals. One can’t say the same of the perpetually dysfunctional and often self-marginalizing Greens."

Voting for Stein in safe blue states (or even profoundly backward deep red ones where Trump will win by landslides-- say Wyoming, Idaho or Alabama) is a smart move for progressives who can then busy themselves trying to perfect the Democratic Party or the Green Party or any other party... and trying to make sure the Democratic Party reforms itself;f so that it doesn't steal the nomination from the next Bernie Sanders. Sawant sees the Green Party as a legitimate alternative to the Democrats. Good luck with that. "Most progressives," she writes, "will vote for Clinton to keep Trump out of the White House. That’s understandable, but even more important is building an alternative to pro-capitalist parties... [O]rdinary people feel disenchanted and disempowered. Donald Trump is an abomination, and consistently over 60 percent of people polled disapprove of him and his bigotry. Trump is the single-most-unpopular major-party candidate ever, and he deserves to be trounced. But, incredibly, the Democrats have managed to nominate the second-most-unpopular candidate in history: Hillary Clinton, whose disapproval rating stands at 56 percent. Make no mistake: I want Trump to lose this election. But progressives should not support Clinton. Her close ties to corporate America and its brutal neoliberal agenda will serve to increase the appeal of right-wing populism even if she wins."
Clinton’s billionaire backers, who wined and dined her throughout August, want her to promise as little as possible to ordinary people for fear of a mass movement developing under her administration. They know that working people, and young people especially, are fired up in a way that we haven’t seen in decades. E-mails recently leaked from Nancy Pelosi’s office contain explicit instructions not to agree to any specific demands from Black Lives Matter.

The Democratic Party has a special talent for enabling the right. President Obama was first elected in 2008 on a wave of opposition to eight years of George W. Bush’s wars and tax cuts for the rich. But he and the Democrats continued the bailout of Wall Street and stood by as millions lost their homes-- and the leadership of the labor movement and most progressive organizations gave him a pass. This created space for the Tea Party to exploit the legitimate anger of large sections of the working and middle class. It wasn’t until 2011 that Occupy Wall Street gave a genuine left-wing expression to the widespread outrage at corporate politics.

Change comes from mass movements, not from on high, as Bernie Sanders has said. His campaign proved decisively that ordinary people can build a powerful electoral movement representing their interests without taking a penny from corporate America. Polls consistently showed that Sanders would crush Trump in the election. But his campaign was trapped inside a party whose leadership was prepared to do almost anything to stop him.

We need to build a new political party, one completely free from corporate cash and influence... Many progressives will vote for Clinton in spite of their opposition to her politics, simply to prevent Trump from setting foot in the White House. I understand their desire to see him defeated, but even more important is beginning the process-- too long delayed-- of building an alternative to the pro-capitalist parties monopolizing US politics.

Not radical enough for you? Paul Street, writing yesterday for TruthDig also urged his readers to vote for Stein. "Every four years," he writes, "liberal-left politicos scream wolf about how the Republicans are going to wreak plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and war-mongering hell if they win “this, the most important election in American history.” The politicos conveniently ignore the plutocratic, racist, ecocidal, sexist, repressive and military-imperial havoc that Democrats inflict at home and abroad in dark, co-dependent alliance with the ever more radically reactionary Republicans. Democrats fail to acknowledge their preferred party’s responsibility for sustaining the Republicans’ continuing power, which feeds on the “dismal” Dems’ neoliberal abandonment of the nation’s working-class majority in service to transnational Wall Street and corporate America. They commonly exaggerate the danger posed by the right-most major party and (especially) the progressivism of the not-so-left-most one." he points to journalist Mark Leibovich's observation that DC has "become a determinedly bipartisan team when there is money to be made. … 'No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore,' goes the maxim, 'only millionaires.'" 
So why might a serious left progressive living in a contested state (someone like this writer) consider following the venerable left political scientist Adolph Reed Jr.’s advice this year to “vote for the lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary Clinton? Part of it could be that lefty’s sense that it is better for “the U.S. Left” (insofar as it exists) and the development of the dedicated, day-to-day, grass-roots social movement we desperately need in place beneath and beyond the election cycle when a corporate Democrat occupies the White House. The presence of a Democrat in the nominal top U.S. job is usefully instructive. It helps demonstrate the richly bipartisan nature of the American plutocracy and empire. Young workers and students especially need to see and experience how the misery and oppression imposed by capitalism and its evil twin imperialism live on when Democrats hold the Oval Office.

At the same time, the presence of a Republican in the White House tends to fuel the sense among progressives and liberals that the main problem in the country is that the “wrong party” holds executive power and that all energy and activism must be directed at fixing that by putting the “right party” back in. Everything progressive gets sucked into a giant “Get Out the Vote” project for the next faux-progressive Democratic savior, brandishing the promises of “hope” and “change” (campaign keywords for the neoliberal imperialist Bill Clinton in 1992 and the neoliberal imperialist Barack Obama in 2008).

Hillary will be much less capable than the more charismatic Obama (under whom there has been more popular organizing and protest than some lefties like to acknowledge) of bamboozling progressives into thinking they’ve got a friend in the White House. Unlike Obama in 2008, she’s got a long corporatist and imperialist track record that connects her to the establishment and is hard to deny.

It is an urban myth that Republican presidents spark and energize progressive and left activism. True, they’ve done outrageous things that can put lots of folks in the streets for a bit. One thinks of Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and Bush Jr.’s invasion of Iraq. But the waves of protest recede, followed by repression, and everything tends to get channeled into the holy electoral quest to put Democrats back in executive-branch power. The second George W. Bush term was no activist heyday, thanks in significant measure to the great co-optive and demobilizing impact of Democratic Party electoral politics and the deceptive, not-so “antiwar” Obama phenomenon.

But the main reason it is easy to understand why many intelligent lefties stuck behind contested state lines might follow Reed’s advice is that Trump is no ordinary Republican wolf. By some dire portside reckonings (including Reed’s), “the Donald” is something like a real fascist threat worthy of mention in the same breath as Hitler and Mussolini. He’s a really bad version of the wolf who finally appears to devour the sheep in the ancient [Boy who cried wolf] fable.

...In warning about Trump and instructing lefties not to vote third-party this time, Reed reminds us of the German Community Party’s fateful error: choosing not to ally with the German Social Democrats against the Nazi Party during the early 1930s. The moral of the story is clear: All sane left progressives need to report to duty to protect the flock under the banner of the admittedly horrid (good of Reed to admit that) Hillary.

...[There is] enough to scare lots of left progressives into voting for “the arch-corporatist and Wall Street-sponsored neoliberal imperialist Hillary Clinton (a candidate whom Gupta has described as “right-wing fanatic” and “enemy of workers”) as the proverbial “lesser evil” in a contested state? Sure. For many lefties (this writer included), however, the Trump threat level does not rise that high. The wolf cry still falls on deaf ears. This is for at least six reasons.

First, ominous warnings from smart people notwithstanding, the American corporate, financial and imperial ruling class doesn’t yet need or want real or quasi-fascism through Herr Trump or anyone else at this historical moment. The U.S. model of corporate-managed and “inverted totalitarianism” (Sheldon Wolin) sold as “democracy” is not about strongmen and brown shirts. The notion that the nation’s “deep state” power elite-- the actual rulers who run the nation’s commanding-heights affairs behind the marionette theater of electoral politics-- would (a) let an uber-narcissistic man-child like Donald Trump into the Oval Office and (b) permit him to do the crazy things he talks about is far-fetched.

Neofascism is simply not where the American ruling class is right now. When it is, we will know. If and when it gets there, it will put forward a far more serious and capable frontman than the preposterous Donald-- a man so uninterested in the actual work of ruling that he offered the “moderate” Republican John Kasich control over “domestic and foreign policy” in a Trump White House if Kasich would be his running mate. Trump’s ascendency to the White House could well portend a further chaotic delegitimization of “homeland” authority and a pervasive sense of societal absurdity (I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that my anarchist streetfighter side would relish the installation of a commander in chief as completely absurd as Trump). Along with the humiliating black eye that a Trump White House would be for Uncle Sam on the global stage, this is something the American power elite has reason not to want. It would be bad for business-- and for American-style business rule as usual.

Second, it is frankly comical to think of the ludicrous, soft-fleshed, silver-spooned draft-dodger and pampered television personality Donald Trump as some kind of neo-Fuhrer. He is seen as “unfit for command” by most top military commanders and is far too monumentally unpopular with the majority of citizens to ever rally enough masses to overcome the hostility he faces with the corporate and imperial establishment.

Third, the populace would not be as pathetically supine and powerless as Gupta imagines in response to the election and policies of a vicious clown like Trump. His selection and installment as U.S. president would be understood by tens of millions of Americans as an incredibly provocative development-- provocative and dangerous enough to spark protests and mass mobilizations on a scale like nothing ever seen in American history. That, too, is part of what makes Trump a different kind of Republican wolf. I suggested above that ultra-left backlash theorists (folks who think “things have to get worse before they get better”) are wrong to assume that it’s better to have Republicans in the White House when it comes to sparking popular protest. Trump would be an exception to that rule. The “deep state” has zero interest in the riotous instability that would result from Trump’s election and inauguration.

Fourth, Trump’s not going to win. For all Hillary Clinton’s obvious terrible flaws as a candidate, the big insider cash, the national electoral demographics, and the Electoral College map (just ask Nate Silver and his team of multivariate election predictors at strongly favor her. Her health stumbles and some recent homeland terror attacks have, yes, boosted Trump in the polls recently. That will fade as cold campaign finance realities and corporate media bring the bipartisan ruling class’s long-chosen candidate Hillary to the moment she has literally craved for so long. The big and smart money is still on “the lying neoliberal warmonger.”

Fifth, the Green Party’s Party’s Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka are combining genuine social movement activism with an electoral campaign for a Green New Deal-- a many-sided program that is much more than just another bit of progressive policy wonkery. It’s an existential necessity for a decent future, one that combines a giant livable ecology-saving program of national and energy and economic reconversion with a giant jobs program and universal health insurance paid for by genuinely progressive taxation (long overdue in “New Gilded Age” America) and massive reductions in the nation’s giant Pentagon System (which accounts for half the world’s military spending). How does any environmentally sentient and peace-advocating lefty not vote for all of that in the current age of savage inequality, rampant militarism, and ever-more imminent eco-catastrophe?

Sixth, “lesser-evil voting” (LEV) has a “terrible track record,” as Stein reminded me last spring. The more American liberals and progressives do it, the more the Republican right wing is emboldened, the further the Democrats move into ideological and policy territory formerly held by Republicans, and the more dire the American and global situation becomes. LEV is a viciously circular, self-fulfilling prophecy that itself holds no small responsibility for the ascendancy of horrible Republican presidents and other terrible things like the tea party and Donald Trump phenomena. And one does not seriously challenge LEV only in so-called safe states. You have to draw some lines in the sand and exit left at some point: Protect the flock.

I am not so inured to the quasi-neofascistic evil of the Trump phenomenon and the ugly prospects of a Trump presidency-- especially on the ecological level-- that I cannot understand why many fellow leftists would mark a ballot for the hideous imperial corporatist Hillary Clinton to block Herr Trump. The intra-left bloodletting that takes place on a regular quadrennial schedule over the difficult question of how best to respond to the United States’ plutocratic electoral and party system certainly does not serve the progressive left cause. Let us join together after the latest quadrennial extravaganza to build and expand a great popular movement with a list of demands and the introduction of an election and party system that deserves passionate citizen engagement.
It's a point of view.I hope you're glad to have read it. You can contribute to stopping Trump here if you want to:
Goal Thermometer

Labels: , , , , ,


At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the bottom line. If Clinton wins this election, expect a real fascist to win in 2020. Then we're all toast. No more corporate democrats!

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The message you think you are sending to the Dems is total b.s.You are imagining things. I'm sure they could not care less.

At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very dangerous to support a third party vote. under any circumstances. The nuance of doing so depending on what state you live in is ridiculous - it is still being narcissistic and demonstrates not caring about stopping Trump at all costs. Many people will likely vote third party in swing states, not grasping that it really matters there, where it will surely matter very much and will only help Trump. Pushing a vote for Hillary with a clothespin should be the one and only message at this stage. It needs to be very clear, not nuanced.

And if he wins because of third party votes, progressives will be blamed for doing so, and that would be correct.

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fifth, the Green Party’s Party’s Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka are combining genuine social movement activism with an electoral campaign for a Green New Deal-- a many-sided program that is much more than just another bit of progressive policy wonkery."
Only a gullible schmuck would believe that, Howie, because they are incompetent to do the real work that involves.

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 7:52 AM

It appears your preemptive blame game is deplorably misdirected.

Go to

It has an interactive US map. Put your mouse over each state. Recent poll results for the particular state will appear. Johnson, the Libertarian, shows up in all states - along with HRC and Herr Hair. I have yet to see Stein register in any state.

In all the swing states (no more than 3% points separating HRC/Herr Hair) Johnson's percentage in more than the difference between the two major candidates.

If you want to prove that Stein does not poll in any state because she is not included among the poll choices, be my guest. But until you do, is not Stein who has the potential to prevent HRC's coronation but, rather, it is Johnson --- and he is NO progressive.

John Puma

At 11:07 AM, Blogger vikeman said...

This author who hides his/her identity is full of bovine excrement nothing he says is even worth commenting on because anybody holding their nose to vote for fish-smelling pantsuit is obviously voting for corruption...thievery and sharia law.

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, the centrists Dems, are out in force here to try to shame liberals. Fascinating and pathetic. If only they believed even vaguely in what Democrats once stood for instead of their pablum and fear mongering their imperialist leaders are dishing out.

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vikeman is obviously a sick parody because she couldn't possibly be that stupid!

About this statement: ..."the American corporate, financial and imperial ruling class doesn’t yet need or want real or quasi-fascism through Herr Trump or anyone else at this historical moment."

Yes, Howie, true enough. But right now THE ASCENDANT CLIQUE of the American corporate, financial and imperial ruling class is all hands IN FAVOR OF real and/or quasi-fascism. This ascendant clique, which is a large splinter group of the usual GOP clique, is in a psychotic panic because of demographics and it clearly sees a historic opportunity to take the upper hand. And this clique has an insane and intense built-in violent base/mob.

Sure the newly ascendant clique is a little less pervasive clique than either of the two usual cliques of the ruling class that seem to take turns running the show. BUT it's a plenty powerful enough clique to crash what's left of our democracy for 2-3 generations to come.

Sorry to use the Hitler analogy, but the German ruling class clique that backed Hitler (AS ALSO DID HITLER'S AMERICAN FINANCIERS SUCH AS PRESCOTT BUSH AND THE BROWN BANKING FAMILY) was also not a predominant clique of the German ruling class at the time. It became the major clique once Hitler took power.

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, your Hilter analogy to Donald trump is utter nonsense. Don't ever use it again. You're just embarrassing yourself. Second, your preferred candidate is also a global corporate and military right winger who's going to purposefully bring disaster to generations of Americans. But feel free to pretend, I would say lie, that somehow Donakd Trump is an aberration.


Post a Comment

<< Home