I try not to post too many political things, but this is important.
Look, I get it. This election is divisive, more so than most elections in our history. Feelings are running hot. Negative rhetoric is all over, on a continuously self-spawning loop. Even the Russians have got involved (maybe)! Our democratic process is on the line . . . though maybe not for the reasons everyone seems to think.
And before I go further, a few caveats. I am a political independent. I am not now nor have I ever been nor will I ever be a Democrat, and I’m *certainly* not a Republican, though I described myself as a Republican back in High School (before Disaster 2000, more on that later). I have always backed political campaigns with my heart and my head working in concert. I turned 18 in 2001, too late to vote in 2000, and have voted in three presidential elections: for John Kerry 2004 (not ideal), Obama 2008 (yay!), Obama 2012 (somewhat muted yay). In 2016, I vocally supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, though I admit I drifted away from his team for various reasons that had nothing to do with him (more on that later). I’m planning to vote Democrat again this year, and that means voting for Hillary Clinton (not ideal).
What I’m going to present in this post are reasons for you to follow suit and vote Democrat this year. Note importantly that you don’t need to agree with all these points. If even just ONE of these points is something you agree with, then voting Democrat in 2016 may just be for you. Because I can guarantee that a Trump presidency will give us NONE of the benefits I mention below, but only the hindrances.
So. Here are a few reasons to vote Democrat in 2016:
1. You Like Hillary Clinton
Believe it or not, a lot of people do.
The lady has been in politics a long time. She’s played the game, she’s endured the mud slung at her (a consistent smear campaign for the last 30 years). She’s the most qualified of the candidates currently running (by a LONG shot). She has the connections to get shit done. She’s smart, skilled, and we know she’s capable of changing her views when shown new information (such as that the Iraq War was fought based on fraudulent intelligence, or that LGBTQIA+ people deserve rights). She evolves. She learns. She makes mistakes, and she tries to fix them. She’s human.
Is she from the war hawkish branch of the party? Sure. Does that mean she’ll start WW3? Unlikely. The most important aspect of Clinton is that she actually does bow to public opinion. I mean, that’s what all her detractors say, right? That she flip-flops and supports the popular opinion? At least she can change her mind, and she still cares about democracy.
2. You like Bernie Sanders
Believe it or not, a lot of people do.
This wild-haired Jewish man shouting in the wilderness with song birds landing on his podium and rays of light cascading from the heavens to light his path may not be Jesus, but, well, he’s got a lot of supporters who believe really fervently in him. Me, for instance. I love Bernie Sanders. He’s ethical. He’s moral. He’s largely remained on a consistent path throughout his political career. He’s an outsider, which I like. I see myself in him, and I think that’s really important to a candidate. Would his ideas have been too liberal and too radical to get through, and he would go down in history as the second coming of Jimmy Carter? Very possibly. But his nomination and election would have been an amazing message.
Unfortunately, he didn’t win, that message wasn’t delivered, and now our liberal option is Hillary Clinton. Whom Sanders has endorsed. Whom he is actively campaigning for. Sanders wants you to vote for Clinton. If you support him, you should really do what he says. Why? Because he’s your guy, and because SUPPORTING CLINTON GIVES HIM POWER. Sanders has carved himself a place at the table. The Democrats have to appeal to his supporters to get power, and that means moving to the left. That means addressing some of his points. That means highlighting the points of his platform Clinton agrees with (like 90% of it anyway). With a Clinton White House and (Gods and Goddesses willing) a Democrat-controlled Congress, that great vision we were all hoping for from Sanders? We might see movement toward that.
But only if Clinton wins in November, and we also vote in a Democratic Congress and Senate. Imagine if the Dems took back the Senate and Sanders leveraged his position and influence to become Majority Leader. Imagine what Clinton and Sanders could accomplish.
3. You Want a Third Party
Some of you reading this, like me, probably want to break the Big Two’s stranglehold on American politics. You might be pissed about having to choose between two candidates you don’t like, and though one is DRAMATICALLY WORSE than the other, you still feel like you have to compromise your principles to do the right thing. But lo and behold, here are two Third Party candidates that most people don’t seem to know about! You could vote for one of them!
Don’t do that. And here’s why.
This isn’t how you get a president in the White House. I mean, yes, running for president is part of it, but you run when you actually have a chance of winning. The Third Party candidates in this election (as in all elections before this) aren’t interested in winning: they’re running to “raise awareness” for their parties, not because they seriously think they have a chance of winning. Because they don’t. We all know they don’t. So what are they doing?
Imagine you want to run a marathon. 26.5 miles is a pretty long distance, even on a bike, and most human beings never run such a long race in one sitting. But those who do tend to be in fairly good shape, train HARD for it, prepare for it, map out the route, etc. They’re prepared. And when they succeed, it’s the culmination of months or years of work.
The Green Party and the Libertarian Party aren’t interested in all that. They’re just flopping off the couch where they’ve been Netflix-and-chilling for six months, stumbling out the door five minutes before the race starts, and expecting to do well. They haven’t put in the work, so of course they aren’t going to do well, let alone win.
If you want to get into the upper echelons of government, you need to start small. Elect city councilors. Sheriffs. Judges. Commissioners. Make yourself a household name. Build trust. Build recognition. Introduce yourself to people so they know you as a concrete entity, rather than a hypothetical group to turn to when they’re angry about some “lesser of two evils” business. Then you run and get elected to state office. Then national office. You keep working until you have 20-25% of the seats in Congress and the Senate and at least 10 governors. Then and only then will you have a reasonable chance of winning the presidency.
But instead, the Third Parties are running Jill Stein and Gary Johnson right now, without that support base. They announced about a month and a half ago, and are angry they’re not being taken seriously as candidates. They’re showboating. Not actually running.
DON’T ENABLE THIS BEHAVIOR. Advocate for a third party built from the ground up, so that it might actually win, rather than help the Donald.
“But won’t Johnson supporters be taking votes away from Trump?” you ask.
Statistics show that the third party candidates are more harmful to Clinton than Trump. The Republicans have always been better at organizing their base, even to vote for people they hate. Just look at the GOP party leaders coming out of the woodwork to endorse Trump. (It’s encouraging that some in the GOP actually speak out against him, but it’s not enough to keep The Donald from devouring their party.) The point is, Trump has the Republican party on lock, generally speaking.
You, however, might be one of those Republicans who wants to stop Trump. You’re not going to do that by voting for Johnson. You’re only going to do that by voting for Clinton.
I’m sorry, I know it sucks. But that’s the only way you can participate in stopping Trump.
And on a related note:
4. You Remember 2000
Now admittedly, it’s debatable whether Nader really made a difference that got Bush elected. (Here’s an article about that.) There was a perfect storm of factors that swept Bush into office: low democrat turn-out, complacency, voter irregularities, Nader taking votes from Gore, the Supreme Court siding against disenfranchised voters, etc., all of which favored the GOP. But what isn’t debatable is that Nader tainted his party with a reputation for aiding Bush in getting elected, ushering in 8 of the worst years our country has had to endure in my lifetime, at least.
And Nader could have had it all. If he had sided with Gore, uniting their causes, and Gore had been elected, Nader could have leveraged his showing in the election into a cabinet position or become a significant advisor in the Gore White House. If he’d acted early enough, he could have been Gore’s VP, and how would that look for the Green Party optics? He’d have ushered in a new era of trust and recognition for his party, and he would have got at least some of the political things he wanted enacted, because the Dems and the Greens are both liberal parties, and they could have compromised.
Instead, he followed his ego, kept pushing for publicity, and we saw the worst, most f***ed up election in my lifetime, got a president who not only eradicated all the things the Green Party supposedly cares about but plunged us into multiple wars that have led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people, shattered our economy, and shepherded the rise of terrorism in our modern world.
I don’t think I’m alone in growing up loathing or (at best) distrusting the Green Party. They set back their cause by years if not decades. And Jill Stein stands to do that again. I’m not 100% opposed to her because of her platform (there’s a lot we can agree on, though she might want to reconsider her anti-science stances). It’s because I’ve seen what the Green Party has done to itself and to all of us, and I will not enable or encourage that again.
Stein and Johnson only stand to do damage: to themselves, to their respective parties, and to the country. Voting for them will at best do nothing, at worst get Trump elected, and most likely damage their parties’ prospects in the future. And that’s not what you or I want. (See #3 above.)
Whew, that was negative. More reasons to vote for Clinton!
5. You Are a Principled Person
Now let’s be clear. When I say “principled,” I mean “cares about things like civil rights, the rule of law, the environment, other people, America, etc.” If you have other principles, I’d be curious what they are.
Is honesty your principle? In most analyses (here’s one), Clinton has been the most honest candidate so far in this election. I know, right? Hard to believe, particularly if you listen to the jeers of the GOP. But it’s true. She tends to tell it like it is, whether it’s encouraging or not. And sure, she puts spin on things, but so does every politician in the history of ever. That’s their job. That’s what we pay them to do.
Is progress your principle? Clinton pushed for universal healthcare in the 90s. She followed America’s lead on same-sex marriage and has become one of its biggest advocates. She’s pro-choice. She is to the left of Obama on almost all issues.
Is social justice your principle? I . . . I don’t really have to go into that one, do I? Trump and the GOP are the team that advocates registration for Muslims, who casts black people as insurgents leading to a civil war with police, who make fun of people with disabilities, etc. Clinton, well, doesn’t?
Ugh. I knew I’d have to get to Trump eventually.😦
6. You Like Living in a Democratic Republic
A couple thousand years ago, there was a vast, sprawling country called Rome, which controlled a whole lot of the known world. They had a Senate, elected by the people, which made decisions on behalf of the rest of the country. It wasn’t perfect, obviously. Slavery, imperialism, war, entirely too much bloodshed, etc. But at least it was a country ruled at least ostensibly by its people.
Then a guy named Julius Caesar swept in and took it all over, becoming the Emperor.
I know, I know, we glorify the dude in all sorts of plays and movies and video games, but the truth of the matter is, he was a tyrant strongman who rode a swell of popular opinion to the top, and smashed the Roman Republic. Sure, he maintained a semblance of popular control–the senate still existed–but he was the guy in charge.
In the 1920s, a guy in Germany rose to power in a similar way.
Sound familiar? That’s what Trump wants to do. He has risen through the Republican party and now wants to present himself as the strong savior of America, which is under all sorts of threats from all directions (according to him), and only he has the solutions (what those are, none of us know, but he’s got ’em, he says). He wants to throw his political opponents in prison. He wants to purge the nation of ethnic and religious minorities. He wants to close the borders. He bullies. He blusters. He threatens.
He isn’t protecting our two party system. He wants a ONE party system. His party.
For more on this point, I recommend this piece.
America’s democracy is at stake in this election. The monster the GOP has morphed into needs to be soundly defeated, and its ideals firmly rebuked. Fascism does not wither and die when ignored. It must be completely destroyed, and defeating Trump is the first such blow.
7. You Like Freedom of Choice
Not just birth control and family planning. I’m talking about other medicines. Doctors. Religion. What you wear when you go out. What you say online.
Because Trump and his cronies have questioned all of these things and insists he will overturn and dismantle important pieces of our free expression.
Clinton won’t do that. Heck, why would she?
Also? Trump stands to nominate 4 Supreme Court justices, who will reshape America for generations. Is that really what you want?
8. You Like Having an Economy That Works
Trump likes to talk a big talk about how “you’ll all be rich” or how he’ll fix all our trade issues, but he has no idea how to do it. Not only does he have no real economic policy or demonstrate even the faintest understanding of how the American economy works, he’s also a horrendous business man. He makes his money on fraud and stealing money from people who’ve done work for him, who he just bullies into accepting less than was promised. He’s gone into bankruptcy many many times. He is far worse than even Mitt Romney (a.k.a. Richie Rich).
Meanwhile, Clinton will continue Obama’s economic policies, which have pulled us back up. And on that point….
9. You Like President Obama
Personally, IDGAF Obama (who relentlessly trolls and rebuts GOP talking points these last six months) is my favorite Obama, but generally speaking, he’s been good for stability of our country. He pulled us back from recession. He’s proved remarkably capable at international relations. He hasn’t got a lot accomplished, but then, no other president has ever met such massive, continuous roadblocking from a hostile Congress.
Clinton will continue his policies. She’s a little left of him on almost every issue, in fact. And that centrist attitude will be good for the country.
10. You Like Ken Burns
I had to include this one.
I get it. You don’t want to vote for Clinton. I’m not a big fan either. I don’t think we’d be friends.
I know some people are–some people love her, and I can see why. Me? She’s not my ideal candidate. I wanted Sanders. But he’s not an option any more.
But the Democrats are still running. They are still our best option for stopping the rise of American fascism.
It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about her. It’s not about him.
It’s bigger than that.
It’s bigger than all of us.
So I’m voting for them. I’m voting for her. I’m voting for you. I’m voting for me. I’m voting for ALL OF US.
Your vote is yours. Please use it, and think hard about how you use it.
Related: Check out John Oliver discussing the RNC: