I voted for Nader in 2000. I still don’t regret it. Since then I have always said that the Democratic Party isn’t owed my vote by default, they’re obligated to convince me why I should give it. It’s why I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Because of that stance, I feel like I should explain why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, even though I dislike her as a candidate.
In just the past few days since I started trying to write this, here’s what has happened:
After spending months fighting accusations that she was too close to the major banks, the Democratic nominee chose a VP who just voted to further deregulate them.
After spending months claiming that the DNC was completely impartial in the primaries, the chair of the DNC has resigned following leaks that revealed the opposite. The Democratic nominee immediately hired her.
But you know what else happened?
The Republican Party nominated a bigoted, racist, sexist, pandering, narcissistic, demagogic, bullying, vindictive, pathological liar who speaks to the absolute worst in people, who supported beating up protesters at his rallies, who wants to deport all Muslims, who supports committing war crimes, who openly calls for a less free press, who fights against the separation of church and state, who refuses to read books and believes conspiracy theories, who “won’t rule out” using nuclear weapons in Europe, who wants to increase the number of nations with nuclear weapons, and who the very week he was nominated let NATO know he would not honor its agreements, increasing exponentially the likelihood of another Cold War (at best).
It’s not even about his ideology, it’s about who he is as a person. He surrounds himself with yes-men, is defensive, unapologetic, and temperamentally unsuited to be President. He openly admires authoritarian dictators for their ability to ignore the law and get things done. The reaction in Europe to his NATO comments is especially instructive as to how much damage he could do in office without having to pass a single bill.
Of course, he won’t be president. Except… before that it was of course he won’t be the nominee. Of course he won’t last until Cleveland. This year, I don’t trust what is supposed to be obvious. There are a lot of scared, angry people who don’t want change out there, and the world is changing on them, and fast. And when people are scared and angry they vote for authoritarians.
Look, I read the same things you do, the same dismissive insults constantly lobbed by moderates (and moderates who call themselves progressives) towards progressives. I’ve watched people talk about how the polling shows that she’s won over a majority of Sanders supporters now, so the rest don’t matter. It was a couple of weeks of appeasement and then it dropped right away, back to the assumption that we have nowhere else to go with our vote. It’s insulting. It’s galling.
But sadly, disappointingly, it’s also true this year.
None of the third parties have the ground game or infrastructure to actually win. Most years, that doesn’t matter, and a conscientious vote, or a conscientious abstain, is a wash in the larger sense. Yes, there should be more viable parties. Yes, the Democratic Party should actually try to convince you (and then PROVE) they’re worth your vote and not treat it as something they just own. So, let’s work to build that infrastructure, let’s make a viable third party, put forth local candidates, support the building of something truly strong and viable that can truly compete in a national election by 2020 and beyond. I’m all in.
But please, I ask you, beg you even, to consider (just consider, I’m not trying to tell you what to do with your vote) the idea that this moment in time is truly one of the most dangerous we have seen in our generation. The threat of authoritarianism is real. This man is truly dangerous. If it was ANYONE other than Trump, in this moment, I wouldn’t care. Hell, if it were Trump, in any OTHER moment, I wouldn’t care. But in this world, in this moment, where the only viable choice is between Nixon or Mussolini, I’ll hold my nose and vote for Nixon.
You know how you read a history of something and you think, how could people have let that happen? Well, we’re people, and things are happening. Your vote is your right. Please, just think about it.