As a die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter, I am in no way giving up on the possibility of him securing the Democrat nomination for president. Until he actually concedes and gives up his campaign, I will continue to pull for him. But, although the question of voting for Hillary if she secures the nomination is an issue I have thought about for the past several months, her recent win in New York has me really facing the reality that Bernie faces a very uphill battle from here on out, and there’s a good chance it won’t happen for him.
It is a question that has been relevant in past elections – whether to vote for the lesser of the two evils that end up representing each party, or to refuse and vote one’s conscience, either by choosing a third party candidate that has no realistic shot of winning or simply abstaining from voting. But in this year’s election, it is resonating much more profoundly than usual, simply due to the fact that the choice presented on the Democrat side is represented by two very distinct candidates that each stand for differing directions in which to move politically, albeit while both running as Democrats. Hillary Clinton is the corporate-connected establishment darling, and although she has attempted to posture herself as just as “progressive” (if not more so) than Sanders, there is no doubt that a vote for Hillary is essentially a vote for the status quo, especially in contrast to the insurgent political revolution that Bernie is mounting. Sanders is not just calling out the influence and power of corporations and the mega-wealthy on our politicians, he is also pointing to problems with the entire voting and election process as it currently stands.
There’s a lot I don’t like about Hillary Clinton, and it has nothing to do with smear attempts or manufactured scandals on the part of Republicans. There is no doubt in my mind that her ties to Wall Street and big business have influenced her on policy, and overall she just strikes me as the archetypal politician, and not in a good sense. Ironically, she has proclaimed that she is not a “natural politician” which I find hilarious (or Hillary-us?) She has been on the wrong side of many issues that I have found important, including the authorization for military force against Iraq, the Wall Street bailouts, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP.) She only relatively recently came around on gay marriage, and up until it became popular and implemented more frequently, she was against a $15 minimum wage (which she now carries on as if she supported it all along.) In fact, that last part is one of the things that irks me about her the most – the sense of fakeness and the fact that her political opinions and stances seem to depend on what she thinks is popular at any given time. Rather than being motivated by core principles that she has been fighting for over the span of years or decades (a la Bernie,) Hillary strikes me as calculated, with views that are contingent on political expediency instead of what is right or best for the people.
Still, despite all of the negatives, there are some positives to Hillary, at least in relation to the fucking batshit crazy jackholes on the Republican side. I have faith that she would be on the right side of a woman having the right to choose, for example. And with regard to other social issues such as gay marriage, I think especially now that the political winds have shifted in their favor, she will stand up for the right of homosexuals to marry. Hillary tends to go with the flow, in a generally liberal direction socially, and I trust that she would never want to go backwards like a Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, or even John Kasich.
So, in my view a vote for Hillary is basically a vote for more of the same, including some positives from the course Obama led us down, but also with the glaring negative that not much will probably be done in the interest of getting money out of politics or preventing another banking collapse/bailout like we had in 2008. The influence of corporations on public policy will probably stay the same if not get worse, and the staggering income inequality that has decimated the American middle class will be allowed to continue unabated. Of course, she could surprise the world and save the day, but I doubt it.
If the choices on the Republican side were not so bad, I would be more inclined to vote my conscience and either vote for someone third-party like Jill Stein, or perhaps even refuse to vote. But look at what they have to offer. Trump – well, what more can be said about Trump? No matter how many positions he endorses that many point out aren’t really that far right, he is still a despicable, embarrassing buffoon. He would still want to monitor mosques, ban Muslims from entering the country, kill terrorists’ families, and of course his promises to build a wall and deport 11 million immigrants. Do we really want someone with his temperament being anywhere near the power of the office of the president?
And then there’s Ted Cruz. A radical theocrat, who openly associates with pastors who suggest that gays be put to death, is anti-choice, and is even now critical of Trump for being too far left on the issue of North Carolina’s anti-transgender bathroom law. Oh and let’s not forget his desire to make “sand glow” in the Middle East via bombing. He has made it clear that he has no problem killing civilians in his promise to “destroy ISIS.” His kind of war-mongering approach is the type that not only doesn’t work, as we have seen, but would serve as fodder for further terrorist recruitment down the line.
Kasich, who I doubt will be the Republican nominee, is seemingly more sane than Trump and Cruz, and he isn’t nearly as unlikable or embarrassing. But he still wants to lower taxes on corporations and continue the trickle-down lie that has sold the middle class out for the past four decades. From a philosophical standpoint, I just don’t agree with that approach.
But Kasich highlights the main point that I am trying to get at. If someone like him were the front-runner for the GOP, I would be more supportive of the idea of voting one’s conscience. Because voting for a candidate you really believe in, even if they can’t win, is a principled refusal to submit to the two-party system which consistently delivers two choices that don’t inspire anyone and then in turn serves to disenchant more and more people who (rightfully so) lose faith in the whole democratic process. Why should we have to settle time and time again for the lesser of two evils? If more people voted their conscience, maybe that would be the first step in changing this system which preserves power and influence for the two parties, and leaves voters in apathetic disillusionment.
As it stands now, though, I wouldn’t feel right potentially putting the presidency in the hands of someone as backwards as Cruz or patently distasteful and buffoonish as Trump. If she becomes the nominee, Hillary and the Democrat party should really be thankful that the Republican offerings are so horrible, that they make her look decent by comparison (which, as I have attempted to describe above, is saying a lot.) When you also consider the fact that the direction of the Supreme Court is at stake, the decision to effectively settle for Hillary starts to look even more acceptable. There is simply too much on the line in this election to do otherwise.
Hillary Clinton photo credit: By lorie shaull (source) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons