Half an hour into watching live election-night coverage, I already have an ulcer. If I continue to watch, I may develop more psychosomatic symptoms; perhaps by the time I’m sitting in class at 9:00 tomorrow morning my face and chest will be covered in hives. I’ll be exhausted, my bloodshot eyes will blink only occasionally as I contemplate the future of this great nation of ours, rather than contemplating how groups of Early Christian readers in the Mediterranean circulated their texts.
If called on I might give an answer about how Jesus preached egalitarianism (though the real story is much less black and white), about how one of the core beliefs of Early Christians, Jew and Gentile alike, was to challenge the existing way of life and the concentration of power that had built up even in the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire. The average life span of a man in the Roman Empire was 20 years of age. And, though perhaps groggily, I may argue tomorrow morning that ideologies began to change because those living in Rome began to realized that the way of life that had been imposed on them wasn’t working.
Now that everyone has voted, I don’t have to pretend anymore: I don’t like Hillary Clinton. No, I don’t merely think she’s a worse candidate than Bernie Sanders. I truly feel that as a candidate she does not reflect my values.
Clearly, though liberals across the board have been wary to say so in fear of inciting a nearby Trump supporter, Hillary Clinton represents the ideologies of establishment Democrats, which have apparently shifted from what Bill Clinton stood for a mere 20 years ago, and works for and answers to large corporate interests like Goldman Sachs. I can’t speak for the average American, or even the average Vassar student, but I certainly don’t want the CEOs of GS, Wells Fargo and other large financial intermediaries governing my country by proxy. At least the industrialists can give us jobs, right?
This leads me to ask, as a registered Democrat, whether or not the Democratic Party’s platform contains even the specter of what I’m looking for as a voter. Mainstream American politics has shifted so far to the right that a candidate embodying–at least to his voters–a white nationalist ideology can run as a candidate for President of the United States under the banner of one of the two historically centrist political parties. Going along with this unfortunate phenomenon, though liberals haven’t been very vocal in calling attention to it, is a clear and deliberate movement of the traditionally left-leaning Democratic Party to the right as well, leaving Bernie Sanders, who objectively is only trying to continue a lengthy tradition of large government, progressive statist Democrat-ism, rather than overthrow the free market or advocate for central planning as an extreme leftist whose policies are understood as unrealistic by a majority of Americans.
No, American progressives weren’t abandoning their ideals when they voted for Hillary Clinton. They were, as the first-past-the-post system forces them to do, choosing between the lesser of two evils. It’s natural, when faced with two awful choices, to choose that which is closer to you on the political spectrum.
However, now that the election is said and done, Leftists across America must acknowledge just what Hillary Clinton is: an awful choice.
She’s not an awful choice because of her emails, or because of Benghazi, or because of her health, or even because of her pants suits. She’s an awful choice because her tax plan will lead to virtually no increase in taxes, because her foreign policy has failed miserably in the past and because her interests, much like Donald Trump’s, lie in the hearts of the top one percent of Americans.
That being said, I didn’t write this piece to emphasize my left-leaning views about taxes or economic policy. Liberals and Conservatives alike need to come to terms with the question of whether or not their respective party’s candidate actually stands for what they believe in, or instead be forced to acknowledge the reality that each former candidate is some right-shifted caricature of their own ideals. Republicans can’t argue with the fact that a party that once advocated for deregulation, small government and entitlement reform has now embraced a largely anti-immigrant, anti-politically-correct stance that promises little to no actual policy regarding traditionally Republican issues.
Now that we’re past the drama of Election Day, Liberals need to challenge Hillary Clinton every step of the way. If traditional Conservatives want their voices heard, they should do the same.
The only way to enact any form of progressive change will be constant and aggressive activism. It has become clear that our electoral process favors large corporate interests of the private sector. The interests of the voting populous are transformed into estuaries that, at the top of each mountain, are crystal clear, but as they flow they become muddied, combining again and again to eventually form two raging rivers that bear no resemblance to the streams of their origin.
The lay of the land seems to have forced each of the rivers to divert their water to the political right before joining the great ocean of dark and terrifying interests.
How can we fix this? The first step is acknowledging the clear flaws in our voting system, known as the first-past-the-post voting system. In first-past-the-post, majority wins. While this is the simple approach, it leads to voters picking a candidate they don’t love (see: voting for Bill Clinton instead of Perot) for fear of the election of a candidate they truly hate. An attractive alternative is Instant Runoff Voting. In a field of candidates, voters cast their vote by ranking the candidates in order of preference. If their first choice does not receive the majority, their votes are allocated to the candidate with the next lowest amount. The process is repeated until one candidate remains.
The Instant Runoff voting system would ensure that everyone votes for the candidate they most agree with without taking into consideration the likelihood of that candidate’s victory. If they don’t win, the vote just goes to the next choice.
This system would result in a much more representative democracy and hopefully, if implemented, would contribute to avoiding a disaster like that of the 2016 election cycle. Hopefully with the future will come an opportunity to stop voting for generalities and nominating ideologues and move this country forward rather than exclusively to the right.