On April 21, 2016, I expressed my support and admiration for Senator Bernie Sanders and his groundbreaking campaign to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Sanders was not and is not perfect, but I found his vision to be inspiring and his platform to be the only one that even attempted to properly acknowledge how deeply embedded economic and racial inequality are “in the institutional framework of American society” (The Miscellany News, “United States in dire need of Sanders’ radical platform,” 04.21.2016). Sanders, to me, represented a lot of ideals that I felt had to traditionally be compromised or suppressed when voting in an American election.
Though Sanders had his flaws (his lack of support for slave reparations, his excessive reliance on economic vagaries, etc.,) the promise of a true progressive movement revitalizing the American sociopolitical landscape gave me hope for the future of this country.
On July 26, 2016, to the surprise of perhaps no one (including myself), the Democratic National Convention nominated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine for president and vice president.
I was angry. I was disappointed.
Nonetheless, this November, I am, begrudgingly but confidently, voting for Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton has baggage. A lot of it. Her support for the deplorable Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (which disproportionately targeted Black people) among other ill-fated neoliberal endeavors that ultimately hurt the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our society, needs to be addressed, readdressed and remembered.
Her hawkish foreign policy tendencies, from voting for the Iraq War back in 2002 to her support for the military-backed removal of Honduras President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 to her uncritical attitude towards the Israeli occupation of Palestine, cost many innocent lives and advanced what many critics see as a prettily packaged imperialist agenda across the globe.
Her complicity in transnational violence needs to be remembered, too.
Accordingly, this history renders it difficult for anyone (impossible to some) who considers themselves to be progressive to vote for Clinton. Many are turning to third-party candidates, while some are refusing to vote altogether.
While I am admittedly practicing a degree of political pragmatism by voting for Clinton in November, I thoroughly dismiss the popular notion that voting third-party is a “wasted vote.” In some elections, a protest vote can be productive and necessary.
For some folks who have been or will be harmed by the mainstream presidential candidates, this is entirely understandable.
Personally, I love the Green Party. I think they have an excellent platform that addresses the nuances of American inequality across racial, class and gender lines. I have many friends who are long-time supporters of the Green Party. To those who are lifelong supporters of the Greens, I say, more power to them. Dr. Jill Stein, though deeply flawed, acknowledges the toxic impacts of unfettered capitalism and military aggression on both our nation and the world. Clinton does not. Donald Trump certainly does not.
I have less patience for left-leaning moderates, disillusioned progressives and disgruntled Democrats.
While my opinion on the matter of third-party voting has shifted a tad, I wrote an article back in April dismissing the rhetoric of “Bernie or Bust” as misguided. I still believe disillusioned progressives and left-leaning moderates should vote for Clinton. As I said then, “the [Bernie or Bust] campaign underestimates how Trump’s lack of political qualifications could disastrously undermine the office of the presidency and the ability of the government to properly serve the people it is supposed to represent. Donald Trump is a pathological liar whose toxic beliefs often change within minutes of him dictating them. The absurd and utterly terrifying concept of a Trump presidency could very well become a reality in eight months if liberals and left-leaning moderates don’t back the Democratic nominee” (The Miscellany News, “‘Bernie or Bust’ rhetoric proves toxic to election discourse,” 04.01.2016).
A Trump presidency could very well become a reality in two months.
For those who would have traditionally voted Democrat this year and refuse because of Clinton’s history, 2016 is simply not the time for a protest vote. The notion that any progressive or revolutionary movement could flower or prosper under President of the United States and former host of “Celebrity Apprentice” Donald Trump is delusional. Trump mines out and serves on a silver platter the absolute worst aspects of American society and calls it a political platform. The entire basis of his campaign, from day one, has based itself around xenophobia and an Americanized brand of proto-fascism. On the day he announced his presidential bid, Trump said, “When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically … When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems…they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists” (The Washington Post, “Full text: Donald Trump announces a presidential bid,” 06.16.2016).
I have eviscerated Trump over three times in this publication. The real life, clear and present, this-is-not-a-drill dangers of his presidency would be unprecedented and irreversibly damaging to our nation.
Contrastingly, an administration under Clinton would foster conditions conducive to a productive, nuanced and effective progressive movement. The influence of Sanders’s campaign proved the malleability and “progressiveness” of Clinton’s views and policies when under political/popular pressure.
As Robert Reich, who endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Primary, put it, “We don’t fight that [systematic inequality] by simply saying, ‘All right, let’s just have Donald Trump and hope that the system improves itself and hope that things are so bad that actually people rise up in armed resistance.’ That’s insane. That’s crazy … We’ve got to be very, very strategic as progressives. We’ve got to look at the long term” (Democracy Now!, “Chris Hedges vs. Robert Reich on Clinton, Third Parties, Capitalism & Next Steps for Sanders Backers,” 08.04.2016).
The moment that did it for me was the case the Mothers of the Movement, nine Black women whose unarmed children’s lives were taken at the hands of police officers, made on the Tuesday of the Democratic National Convention. Lucia McBath said, “Hillary Clinton isn’t afraid to say black lives matter. She isn’t afraid to sit at a table with grieving mothers and bear the full force of our anguish. She doesn’t build walls around her heart” (Time, “Read What the Mothers of the Movement Said at the Democratic Convention,” 07.26.2016).
It would be unwise to neglect the fact that Clinton’s platform encompasses many policies that resonate with progressive values, such as valuing and upholding LGBTQ+ rights and protection from discrimination and calling for paid family leave. Her long-term commitment to these ideals will surely be thoroughly tested with the increasing polarization of our country. But for now, her ideology is implicitly carving out space for progressive movements like Our Revolution (Sanders’s grassroots organization to carry out the mission spawned from his political campaign), Black Lives Matter and even the Green Party to potentially flourish.
Hillary Clinton has a lot to answer for. We, as American people, have a lot to answer for. You have a lot to answer for. I have a lot to answer for.
Nothing will be answered for if Trump is elected president.
And that’s why this November, I am voting for Hillary Clinton.