August 23, 2016

A Sign in My Yard

I might vote for Hillary Clinton, but I probably won't. At the moment, many progressives are up in arms about this. For those that feel that Donald Trump is the greatest threat to human life in modern history, a vote for anybody but Clinton is unconscionable. In contrast, many Sanders supporters continue to attribute Clinton's primary win to foul play and refuse to vote for her. Between superdelegates, closed primaries, and the DNC, there is plenty of reason to be suspicious. But neither of these things are weighing heavily on me. I am concerned with a very large threat to our democracy. It seems to me that corporate power and spending has the potential to overthrow our government. It won't look like a coup d'etat. It probably won't include blowing up any buildings or factories. But in reality, the coup has already begun - slowly overwhelming our electoral processes, subduing our regulatory foundations, seeping into our educational institutions, and extinguishing our ability to fend off avoidable crises.

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton has been an agent of corporate power. In recent years, she helped negotiate the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), which would be a tremendous gift to Big Business and a major setback for the working class and our environment. It was negotiated in secret between Pacific countries and hundreds of advisers from some of the world’s most powerful corporations, while the U.S. Congress and U.S. citizens were excluded. I'm sure the corporate war profiteers love her, since she rarely missed an opportunity to back more and bigger military interventions when she was Secretary of State. And now that their armaments have made it into the hands of the Islamic State, the resulting global instability will undoubtedly result in more military contracts. Hillary Clinton supported the deregulation of the telecommunication and financial industries, and now those folks are some of her largest campaign contributors. And they have been steadfast in their support. Need I go further? It is hard for me to champion someone who champions the very corporations, whose success threatens our democracy and the very livability of our planet.

On the other hand, I will certainly vote for someone other than Donald Trump.
For those that think he has a chance of getting elected, I understand the temptation of voting for the lesser of two evils. He seems to have staunch support amongst white working class folks, especially men. But demographically speaking that's not going to put him over the top. And each new topic he tackles turns yet another voting bloc against him. Other than Fox News, he is now getting a fair amount of bad press. Of course he has only himself to blame. He says so many things that are provocative, untrue, and/or dishonest that it would be a challenge for an unbiased journalist to cover him in a positive light. For sure, I will keep a watch on the media and the polls as we get closer to the election. But at this point, I am not worried that Donald Trump will win. Consequently, I can vote for the candidate of my choice. I need not confine myself to the lesser of two evils.

If you live near me, you may have noticed that a Clinton sign recently appeared in my front yard. Don't worry. I do not live alone and my sweetie put that sign up. He feels that he must do something to help defeat Trump. Racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and incitement to violence are some of the hallmarks of Trump's campaign. And that sign is there to proclaim that he won't let Trump, Trump's bigotry, or Trump's bullying anywhere near the White House. And when I first saw that sign, I started remembering the impressive side of Hillary Clinton. She does have some fine attributes. She has been a solid supporter of women's rights around the world. She has not wavered on this. She did try to pass universal health insurance coverage - and she was outspoken against corporate interests at the time. She is tenaciously pro-choice. And, she has weathered decades of brutal attacks and accusations by just about everybody, most of which have stood up about as well as water without a pail. And so I appreciate that sign in my yard. I dearly want to support a woman who has been the focus of so much invented animosity from the right. And as demonstrated by the harsh stream of vilifying posts on my Facebook newsfeed from Sanders supporters, she was subjected to the sexist double-standards of the left as well. And yet, she came out swinging. And wouldn't it be great to have a woman as President - the ultimate role model for girls in this country. Okay, I can live with the sign.

But here's the thing. Although I am not a particularly educated student of history, I do have some opinions about the power of my vote, based on the history with which I am familiar. As I see it, populist issues force their way onto the U.S. political stage and then they power changes in U.S. law via mass political movements. Once a movement is big enough, they can throw around their electoral weight. And that's when change happens. By way of example, I just looked up the women's suffrage movement. It had been slowly pushing votes for women onto the political agenda but it was acceptance by the newly-formed Progressive Party in 1912 that pushed it into the national arena. The mainstream Republican and Democratic Parties ignored the issue. But that year, the Progressive Party pulled in a whopping 27% of the popular vote. Four years later in 1916, the conventions of both the Democratic and Republican parties endorsed women's suffrage. Certainly it was a lot more complicated than that, but three years later the 19th amendment passed Congress. That's the bit of history that can be fact-checked.

But what do you bet that folks went around in 1912 telling voters not to vote for the Progressive Party, because it would split the Republican vote. Indeed it did, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidency. I'll bet lots of Republicans said that the Progressive Party was a spoiler and berated those who voted Progressive. Yet in the long run, this vote helped turn the tide on women's suffrage. This brings me back to my vote in 2016. I'd like to vote against corporate power. If I follow through on my wish, I will have to vote a third party, since both major candidates are big supporters of corporate power.

I probably won't think about this again until November. When it's time to vote, I will check out the latest polls. Assuming Florida is not poised to sweep Trump into office, I will look at all the candidates on the Florida ballot, spend an hour researching the lesser-known candidates, and then go vote. Meanwhile there is a boatload of work to do to help broaden and deepen the movement to reign in corporate power and spending.


  1. Well, I hope not too many progressive Floridians like your yourself vote 3rd party, in a swing state, with lots of electoral votes. Y'all could hand a victory to the Drumpf. Imagine!

  2. There is still reason to worry.

  3. Welcome back Diane. Lets all get together and trounce Trump