I realize you're probably not going to read all of this. And even if you do, you're probably not going to change your mind about how to vote if you were already on Team Hillary just because you read my stupid blog. And that's OK, I guess.
But I've been wanting to write this post for a while now, mostly to get some things off my chest and to summarize in one place why I'm as terrified of four or eight more years of a corporate-owned Democrat in the White House as I am of whichever nightmare the Republicans offer up as their nominee. So here goes.
Let me start off with one big reason to hate the modern Democratic Party: The Democrats aren't collectively a heroic David fighting Goliath on behalf of the common people. They're Goliath's equally giant friend who sucker-punches David before he can take down the warrior.
Yes, modern Democrats alway punch down. Never up—at their wealthy benefactors—or across—at the Republicans. They always punch at those who are more progressive and less powerful than them—like, for instance, a surgeon general who made the grave error of speaking favorably of masturbation in response to a question at a Worlds AIDS Day conference.1
And Democratic voters tend to follow suit: With a few exceptions, including my BFF Paul, I don't see people on Facebook who tend to vote Democratic calling out people who are enthusing about a Republican candidate. I see loyal Democratic partisans calling out progressive voters who might dare to vote their conscience in the general election, whose conclusion, let's not forget, is still many agonizing goddamn months away.
I've seen so many people on Facebook saying progressives must not vote for the Green Party—whose candidate, Jill Stein, they won't deign to mention by name but who is absolutely fucking terrific—or must not fail to vote in the general election (meaning for the corporatist Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, who they generally assume will win the primary2), because otherwise they're really voting for the Republican3.
Nope. I would never cast a vote for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump or any of those other shitheads; unlike much of the country, I vote for my own interests and for the general welfare of the American people, not for the person who's likely to win or the one who will stick it to those other, icky people (blacks, gays, Muslims, immigrants, libtards, etc.) the hardest.
And calm down anyway. I have only one freaking vote, for fuck's sake. And New Jersey tends to vote Democratic in state and federal elections. Although while I was in New York, New Jerseyans twice elected an absolutely loathsome Republican governor. Who was endorsed for re-election by a lot of Democrats. And the N.J. Democratic Party generally treated its nominee—who you may recall was progressive and a woman—like typhoid.
Democrats abandon their core group of voters and their supposedly liberal values all the time to kowtow to the right. So why the hell shouldn't progressives abandon the party if it chooses a nominee we know damned well is going to continue the Democratic way of triangulating and selling us out? There are so many examples of Dems in general—and Hillary Clinton in particular—abandoning the left to curry favor with the right that it really shouldn't be a question anymore of who matters in their world. There are several examples below and at the link two lines above, but here's another quick one: Terry McAuliffe—the Democratic governor of Virginia, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, a longtime friend of the Clintons, and sometimes an employee of their campaigns—vowed to gun violence survivors that he'd stand up to the NRA and make the state a safer place. And then he cut a deal with Republicans to water down gun legislation. Of course he did. That's what "centrist" Democrats do by default.
The other reason why people need to calm down about other people voting their conscience is that elections generally don't bring about radical changes anyway. Movements do.
And, as you may recall, we had a great progressive movement going there for a while. Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots were doing amazing things—until the Obama administration worked with local governments and law enforcement to squelch them. But woo hoo! Democrats will help you change the world! You need only pull the lever for their chosen candidate. Then sit back, relax, and everything will be right with this country again. Baloney!
I was somewhat optimistic about the kind of president the former community organizer from Chicago might be until he reversed himself on immunity for the telecom companies that aided Bush's illegal spying program. And then, coincidentally of course, AT&T was a huge sponsor of the Democratic National Convention at which Obama was chosen as the party's presidential candidate.
The double-pinkie-swear-super-secretly-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership, just like the North American Free Trade Agreement before it, will enrich multinationals at the expense of workers and the environment.4 Clinton says she opposes the TPP now, but she spoke favorably of it for three years while she was secretary of state. And the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts she'll suddenly be OK with it again once she's president. No doubt.
And let's talk about the jobs situation in this country: It sucks! Democratic partisans love to tout the employment recovery under Obama, but many of the new jobs being created are part-time, thanks to Obamacare (which I'll note parenthetically, as I've noted before5, was never going to have a government-run option similar to Medicare, despite Obama's purposefully misleading public statements lies).
I remember Atrios at Eschaton constantly wondering earlier in the Obama presidency why the administration wasn't losing its shit about consistently high unemployment when even the Reagan White House, not known for being pro-labor, did its damnedest to create jobs so as not to lose its chance at re-election. One explanation is that Obama believed high unemployment wasn't the result of an economy that had been shitcanned by the Bushies but was due to higher worker productivity. WTF?!6
Obama has done nothing about global climate change, and, no, that's not all the fault of the Republicans in Congress. He had Dems in both houses of Congress there for a while, and instead of a going-for-broke alternative energy program, he offered up an "all-of-the-above" strategy whose tag line was taken directly from the American Petroleum Institute.
And you may recall how he touted the safety of deep-sea oil drilling less than three weeks before BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, causing an oil spill that eclipsed the Exxon Valdez disaster. If Dick Cheney had done such a thing, Democrats would rightfully have pilloried him, but there were no such repercussions for Obama. And that, in case you wanted to keep track at home, was the moment the progressive movement died, per one of my idols, Jane Hamsher.
And on a related note, I don't want a president who admires Henry Kissinger and considers his vision of the world to be "just and liberal." Kissinger is a straight-up war criminal, and in a truly just world, he'd have died in prison years ago rather than being revered by ass kissers in both parties.
Obama was perceived as the least hawkish of the two presidential candidates in 2008, and he wasn't tarnished with a yes vote on the Iraq war authorization like Clinton was. But once he was in office, his rhetoric of "change" was thrown out the window and he kept on W.'s secretary of defense! How the hell did he get away with that? Seriously. How the hell did he get away with such a complete reversal on an issue that was so important to Democratic voters?
Likewise, he moved Tim Geithner, W.'s head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which was all about keeping the big banks rolling in cash, to the Treasury Department. If those two appointments weren't grounds for an uprising, what was? And what will ever be?
Obama bailed out Wall Street at the expense of mortgage holders—who were merely "foam on the runway" to prevent the bankruptcy of the too-big-to-fail banks, according to his beloved Treasury Secretary—and his Department of Justice hasn't prosecuted those companies responsible for the "financial crisis." The DOJ has merely doled out fines, ensuring the bad behavior will continue indefinitely. None of that can have been surprising really, considering who he put in positions of power in economics and law.
Many Hillary fans are aware of the concerns that she's a warmonger, but they dismiss them. They certainly should, for consistency's sake, if they're still fans of Obama after all of the violence he's unleashed in the Middle East and Africa, with a big assist from his former secretary of state.
I worry about the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy catastrophe on the planet almost every day. Does Obama? He can't, otherwise he'd have long ago insisted the Japanese government convene international experts to fix the fucking situation. Will Hillary? I don't think so. Above all else, it seems, those in power don't want to make their friends at Exelon or GE or Tepco look bad or suffer even a loss of revenue. And meanwhile, the Pacific is getting more and more irradiated every day. This cartoon would be hilarious if it weren't so goddamn sad.
I won't vote for someone who declared marriage to be "a sacred bond between a man and a woman" on the floor of the Senate. A Facebook friend (who hasn't ever implied that if I don't vote for Clinton, I'm a pawn of the Republican National Committee) posted that video, and I wrote the following comment:
It's the "sacred" language that really troubles me. She knew goddamn well that civil marriage is different from recognition by a religious institution. But she chose to wink at the right while delaying true equality for people who are inclined to vote for her. Of course, it's possible I'm overestimating how much that wording is aimed at the right and underestimating how much comes from her actual belief system. She's an evangelical Christian who comes from a tradition that preaches social change should come slowly and a member in good standing of the scary Fellowship, or Family, in DC that preaches it's OK to do effed-up things if you're powerful enough, because God says you're special and above the losers in the general public.
And I posted a link to this Mother Jones story about her religious beliefs, which give me another reason to never vote for her. Here are two more stories on The Family, which is scary as fuck. (The first story makes no mention of Clinton.)
This next example of how Clinton isn't pro-LGBT when it counts is really granular, but I'm including it because it shows perfectly the depths she'll sink to in order to avoid pissing off the always unhinged right: In 2011, she was worried what Sarah Fucking Palin would say about the State Department using Parent 1 and Parent 2 on passport applications instead of Father and Mother. I want to vote for someone who considers Palin's views on everything to be irrelevant, and I have no respect for someone who would give gays and lesbians the finger in order to avoid a backlash from that simpleton. It can't be asking for too much in 2016 to have a Democratic candidate who is unabashedly pro-LGBT, with no bullshit and no triangulating.
Similarly, I can't understand why so many of my queer brothers and sisters were fawning over Obama for coming out in favor of marriage equality on the day after North Carolina voted to include an anti-gay-marriage amendment in the state's constitution. And the motherfucker—who's the product of an interracial marriage that was made possible in every state in this country only because of the Supreme Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia—still said the issue of marriage equality should be left to the states. And Clinton said the same thing in an appearance on Ellen in 2007 during which she also said she was in favor of civil unions.
There are so many other things I could write about—including Obama's worst-of-any-president hostility toward whistleblowers and his administration's horrible treatment of immigrants, which, until recently, Clinton has defended—but I want to bring this post to a close already.
This version is my third attempt at writing this essay. The second one's headline was "When Will We Be Allowed to Have a Truly Progressive President?" Many Democrats say we must wait for the Republican alternative to be less radical before progressives can get our dream candidate—or they mock the very idea of having a president who isn't bought and paid for. I don't disagree that having a president who truly represents the people seems unlikely, but I'll be damned if I'm going to vote for someone I know will ignore the commonweal for the benefit of the 1%. And as for waiting on what the whackjob Republicans do, fuck that. And fuck the Democrats who tell me I have to wait for another, more-reasonable day to vote my conscience.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said those who tell you "wait," almost always mean "never." I refuse to wait for a more-acceptable day to refute our broken two-party system. Unless Bernie Sanders gets the nomination (highly unlikely, I'd say) and unless I'm absolutely convinced he won't defy the will of the voters like so many Dems before him (unclear at this point), I'm going to vote for Jill Stein. The election of a Green Party candidate would be a huge wake-up call to the corporate-controlled, right-leaning Democrats.
I know that such an election result is highly unlikely not just this year but also in my lifetime, but I don't care. I'm voting for the change I want to happen, not for the abysmal "centrist" option I'm constantly told I must realistically accept.
1Yes, I'm still pissed off about how Bill Clinton treated Joycelyn Elders. And let's not forget that she wasn't the only intelligent, principled woman of color he threw under the bus when conservatives started howling.
2And they probably ought to assume that. Clinton lost decisively to Bernie Sanders by vote tally in New Hampshire but got more delegates committed to her that night because of super delegates, which are unique to the Democratic Party's process. I realize that super delegates can change their minds about whom they ultimately choose to throw their support to, but the mere existence of these more powerful delegates is scary—and undemocratic. And the Democratic National Committee—led by Friend of Hillary Debbie Wasserman Schultz—has ended Obama's ban against contributions from lobbyists and political action committees, all the better to enrich Clinton's campaign with corporate-tool money.
3Those with this mindset enable the Democratic-Republican duopoly that prevents third-party candidates from participating in debates. They also typically want to shout "Don't forget 2000!," the implied lesson being that the fools in Florida who voted for Ralph Nader instead of Al Gore decided the election for Bush. That thinking involves an awful lot of willful forgetfulness: about the widespread disenfranchisement of voters who were inclined to vote Democratic by pegging them falsely as felons; the use of voter intimidation near predominantly African-American polling places by Florida Highway Patrol troopers; Gore's insistence the election not be contested even though several members of the House implored a senator to do so—a story that went largely unreported in the mainstream media; his failure to campaign at all in Tennessee; and so on. Like I said, punching down is all they've got.
4I'll admit that, at that time, I thought Al Gore won the debate about NAFTA over Ross Perot. But Perot was right about that "giant sucking sound" of jobs being sent overseas. I guess with those big ears, he could hear things before the rest of us. LOL. But no shade, he was right, and I was wrong to believe Gore and Clinton wouldn't do anything to willfully hurt their constituents in the labor movement. I hadn't yet learned that that's precisely what proudly centrist Democrats do.
5Many of the links in that linked Hawleyblog post are unfortunately broken. The one at promises, in the first sentence, still works and leads to a Firedoglake (now known as Shadowproof) piece by Jon Walker that takes Bernie Sanders down for folding on his promise to fight for an up-or-down vote on the public option.
6Here's another article on Obama's choosing austerity over stimulus, which also involved his listening to Peter Orszag, his then–budget director who now works for Citigroup, and ignoring Christina Romer, the head of his Council of Economic Advisors.