Bill McKibben, who co-founded 350.org, a group solely dedicated to getting the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide below 350 parts per million so as to prevent catastrophic consequences for the planet, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. After she appointed to the Democrats' platform-drafting committee two people who benefit financially from fracking and who, not surprisingly, helped prevent a moratorium on fracking from being added to the platform1. After she named a man who said fracking has never caused environmental harm (and who had also been Obama's first head of the Interior Department) to lead her transition team. And after WikiLeaks revealed she had dismissed those who wanted to end U.S. dependence on fossil fuels as "the most radical environmentalists" who needed to "get a life."
And had she won, Clinton would have followed as president a man who implemented Sarah Palin's much-mocked-by-Democrats "drill, baby, drill" energy strategy. And whose Environmental Protection Agency allows frackers to dump their poisonous waste chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico without penalty.
The Democratic Party as a whole and its failed presidential candidate in particular couldn't really be taken seriously as an agent of change when it comes to climate change. I'm aware that most Republicans, including my U.S. representative, Leonard Lance, who got re-elected over the Democrat I voted for2, deny global warming even exits. But that extreme stupidity by the other major party doesn't make the Democrats heroes by default. It gives them cover to do next to nothing—or actively be part of the problem—and still be seen as reasonable by comparison. But reasonableness doesn't get us below 350 ppm.
Our planet is circling the drain, and pretty much all we have in the two major parties are corporate tools who are more concerned with getting paid—and re-elected—than with ensuring the Earth is hospitable to life. In such a situation, voting for either Clinton or Trump seemed like signing on to a suicide pact.
And that unaccountable political duopoly fails us on more than our planet's climate and other environmental matters. Both parties have been content to let multinationals such as Apple evade $2.5 trillion in taxes. They both curry favor with Wall Street3 at the expense of Main Street. And they engage us in more and more wars—and sell more and more weapons—to boost the military-industrial complex with nary a peep from anyone. Because Republicans tend to love American shows of force no matter the justification, and because Democrats don't want to criticize Obama for his wars even though they were, rightfully, horrified at and spoke out against Bush's war/oil grab in Iraq. (The latest iteration of which, by the way, is now called Operation Inherent Resolve.)
And that's why I voted for the Green Party's Jill Stein for president. I was under no illusion my one vote in New Jersey was going to singlehandedly spur a revolution or send a message that would be read loud and clear by a winning President Clinton or a losing Secretary Clinton. But I did vote for someone I believed in and hoped others would do the same, because we'll never get a progressive president if we keep insisting the only progressive in the race doesn't stand a chance and so is unsupportable.
I had thought about writing a post like this right before the election, but I knew I wasn't going to change anyone's mind at the last minute. Not even with my incredibly articulate and impeccably reasoned prose. 😊 And I'd already written a similar post months ago, when Sanders still had a shot at getting the nomination. But now, after having seen a bunch4 of bullshit takes on the election and some of my friends on Facebook blaming third-party voters for Trump, just like Democratic partisans still want to blame Ralph Nader for George W. Bush, I wanted to get my own thoughts down on my own blog.
I understand the fear of a President Trump and a Vice President Pence. I really do. And I agree with those who believe Pence is even scarier than Trump. But the recognition of Pence's theocratic worldview doesn't erase the fact that Hillary Clinton was a member of the same extreme-right-wing-Christian group of Washington insiders Pence was: the Fellowship. And as that story linked at "the Fellowship" points out, Bill Clinton and Obama either signed or voted for state or federal "religious freedom" laws that are really about letting churches or Christian people/businesses (because people and businesses are now interchangeable) do whatever the hell they want, the Constitution be damned.
And those two knuckleheads' involvement in protecting the right of Christianists to discriminate perfectly illustrates the point that whenever you get disgusted at something a Republican is doing, you'll inevitably find a Democrat who enabled it or did the same thing. The New York Times revealed Trump paid nothing in federal taxes for many years. Understandable outrage ensued. But who signed the law that made it possible for him to legally dodge taxes? Who else but Bill Clinton?
In April, the Boston Globe mocked up a fake front page about a then-still-imaginary President Trump. As Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting noted, many of the things the Globe said we should fear in a Trump presidency were already happening during Obama's presidency. The deportation issue is, to me, the area of greatest hypocrisy. Obama has deported more people than all 20th century presidents combined, including women whose only crime was having an abusive husband. And the border wall Trump has been claiming he'll have constructed at Mexico's expense was already built—and thousands of Mexicans hoping to make it to this country have died in the wilderness because of it. And it shouldn't be surprising that both Hillary and Bill Clinton (along with, of course, George W. Bush and many Republicans in Congress) played a part in its construction.
And just about everything Ethan Coen mentions in the "All our media friends" section of his New York Times op-ed (see the link at "bullshit" four paragraphs above this one) as applying to Trump can easily boomerang right back at Clinton or her husband or Obama: executing the innocent families of (alleged) terrorists—or people who just happen to be near a(n alleged) terrorist and, because they're male and of a certain age, are automatically deemed to be terrorists; torture by our military; nuclear proliferation; jokes about assassinations; and pot-stirring racism. Until I came across that last linked story, I couldn't have told you that Bill Clinton went to the place where the modern Ku Klux Klan was born for a photo op—with three other Southern, white, male politicians—in front of a group of mostly black convicts. If I knew at the time that Clinton had done that, and it's possible I did, because I very much kept up with current events at the time of BC's first election, I mentally pushed that clearly racist bit of fuckery aside and voted for him anyway.
I gave up on Bill Clinton after he signed the Defense of Marriage Act. (I didn't cast a vote for president in 1996.) He and Hillary have both claimed DOMA was necessary to prevent an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment. But that excuse doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Similarly, HC said she voted for a 2001 bankruptcy bill only after advocates for women and children encouraged her to fix it and then back it. That wasn't true.
I'm now going to crib from a couple exchanges I've had on Facebook since the election. Because that's where we should all go for intelligent discourse about critical matters! 😜
Both of these discussions I'm going to mention let me further address the third-party "spoiler" issue. A friend who's very important to me, in response to a comment made by a friend of hers whom I don't know, described third-party voters as "just so spiteful and selfish." I replied with the following, though the links are brand-new to Hawleyblog:
I couldn't vote for the woman who tried to convince America that the AIDS crisis never happened in order to lionize Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Who would have furthered the destruction of the Middle East and Africa—started by Bush and continued by Obama—and the creation of more terrorists. Who thinks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase should police themselves. Who doesn't give a shit about Black Lives, the Standing Rock Sioux, or anyone else who doesn't have big wads of cash to throw at her and her husband. Who was for the Trans-Pacific Partnership before she was against it and who no doubt would have been perfectly fine with it again, despite the resulting harm to the labor and environmental movements. Who wouldn't have done a damn thing about climate change so as not to offend her Big Petroleum friends. If that makes me "just so spiteful and selfish," so be it.
She replied with a list of horrible things Trump would do as president and then said, "A vote for a third party candidate was essentially a vote for Trump." And then she said she and her husband still loved me even though we disagreed on this issue, which I was happy to read though I hadn't really doubted that.
I replied with this:
I love you both, too, but you don't get to convert my vote for Jill Stein into a vote for Donald Trump. Did everyone who didn't vote at all—and they are legion—also actually vote for Donald Trump? Do I get to say that you must approve of the Honduran coup and are happy to see LGBT people and environmentalists being murdered in that country because the candidate you voted for enabled that takeover by a far-right-wing government? And give me a break. As if I'm not aware of all of those problems with Trump. Are you aware that Obama has deported far more immigrants than any of his predecessors, including women and children to countries where they face great harm upon their return? And that Clinton was, until rather recently, just fine with that policy? Why is that OK? Why are Democrats only waking up to the realities of deportation now that it's a Republican who's been threatening to do it?
She said (and I realize this back-and-forth may be getting tedious ... but it is after all a summary of a Facebook argument 😆) she thinks Stein's platform is impressive and incorporates a lot of things she (my friend) believes in. But Stein had no chance of winning, and so my friend went with her imperfect choice. And the votes that went to Stein and Gary Johnson could have prevented "the catastrophe that will be the Trump administration." And then her friend mocked the Green Party's organization and said it couldn't really run a national campaign (though it most definitely did), and both my friend and her friend alluded to Ralph Nader being the spoiler in Florida for Gore.
And so I said:
More registered Democrats in Florida voted for Bush in 2000 than did Nader supporters of any affiliation. And thousands upon thousands of black voters were disenfranchised in that state for that election, and Gore didn't say shit about it. And lots of people, of course, didn't vote at all. And if Gore had campaigned in and won his home state of Tennessee, he would have been president. (And if Clinton had deigned to set foot in Wisconsin, she might have won that state this year.) And have you forgotten about that crazy Supreme Court decision that said Bush won and, btw, don't use this decision to mean we care about equal protection of voters in other circumstances? You loyal Democrats still want to blame everyone else but your own party for what's happened, and that doesn't bode well for the midterm election or 2020. We know thanks to Wikileaks that Clinton's campaign spoke of encouraging greater acceptance of fringe Republican candidates, like Trump and Cruz, so as to increase the chances of giving her a more-easily-defeatable opponent in the general election. She and her brain trust were perfectly content to give us the choice of her or that piece of shit. The Green Party actually won a handful of races throughout the country, and, of course, they're always trying to get bigger and more powerful, but most people find it easier to dismiss them and vote for the same old, same old. And lots of people didn't know what Jill Stein stood for because the two major parties have for years now colluded to exclude the other parties from debates while pretending that the other big party is their greatest enemy. The real enemy of both mainstream parties is democracy, and that's been blindingly obvious for a long time now.
And then my friend commented that she didn't think we were having the same argument and that we could at least agree Trump sucks. Agreed!
The second thing I'm reposting was started by an essay a friend wrote on Facebook encouraging his fellow Democrats not to take out their rage on Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or Susan Sarandon. He cited the many registered voters who didn't show up to the polls and a survey of third-party voters that found half of them wouldn't have voted at all if only the two major-party candidates had been on the ballot. That started a good conversation among his friends, most of whom agreed that blaming Stein or someone else wasn't helpful.
I wrote this in reply (and, again, the links are new to Hawleyblog):
I agree with a good deal of what's been said here. I voted for Jill Stein. In New Jersey. And I probably would have done the same if I lived in Ohio or Florida. I did so because the Democrats have time and time again kicked their own supporters in the ass to kowtow to various right-wing constituencies and/or the rich and powerful. Bill Clinton gave us welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the dissolution of Glass-Steagall. Al Gore ignored the widespread disenfranchisement and intimidation of black voters in Florida. The Democrats in Congress used Cindy Sheehan's support to win back the House in 2006 and immediately broke their promise to her to stop funding the war. Despite his insistence he was a force for change, Obama retained Bush's secretary of defense and moved Bush's head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to Treasury. He's making us buy health insurance—under threat of a penalty from the IRS—from the same big, for-profit companies he led us to believe he thought were the pinnacle of evilness. We're still fighting Bush's wars and have added even more, thanks in part to Hillary Clinton. Both Obama and Clinton for the longest time said they disapproved of gay marriage on the grounds of states' rights and their own religious beliefs. Both Bill Clinton and Obama yearned for a "grand bargain" with the Republicans that would cut Social Security. Hillary Clinton named someone who said fracking has never caused environmental harm (and who was also Obama's first secretary of the interior) to head her transition team. She told a group of bankers in a paid speech that they should be able to police themselves. And on and on. At some point, you've got to conclude that although the Democrats' words may be less hostile than the Republicans', they're still going to sell you out.
I got some likes and supportive comments and then someone I don't know wrote, "This kind of narrow ideological expectation of purity is deadly." To which I replied:
Really? After the Democrats' candidate got beaten by the likes of Donald Trump, you're still smugly throwing around a phrase like "narrow ideological expectation of purity"? That attitude might still get you a sweet gig at the DNC or an op-ed in the Washington Post, but wake up, dude. How about you and the legions of other defenders of the Democratic status quo maybe start doing something different for a goddamn change? How about you demand that the Democrats stand for something other than keeping the monied elites comfortable? How about you recognize that the Dems' constant triangulation toward the right, enabling of the 1%, and contempt for anyone who wants genuinely progressive and populist policies helped give us President Trump?
That guy didn't reply, which I assume means he realized how incredibly stupid his comment had been. 😆 Demanding that politicians who claim to be progressive or your "fierce advocate" act accordingly if they want our support isn't about some ridiculous expectation of complete agreement. It's about recognizing the same old people who have been telling us the same old lies and accepting the same old money from the same old evildoers aren't going to change into our advocates even 95% of the time simply because we really, really wish they would. (And speaking of the same old people, the Democrats have chosen Chuck Schumer to be their new Senate minority leader.)
So many of my Democratic friends seemed to go to sleep during the Obama years, just assuming he was doing the right thing even as he waged a war against conscientious whistle-blowers and caused millions of people to lose their homes to save the too-big-to-fail banks5. He was surely still pro-choice even though he signed an executive order to extend the Hyde Amendment to Obamacare to convince conservative Democrats in the House to vote for his health insurance legislation. (Just like Hillary's running mate is pro-choice even though he opposes federal funding for abortion. She had to find a way to triangulate on that bedrock Democratic issue, too.) Obama certainly cared about black lives, even though his Justice Department—led by a black woman—coordinated with local police to stop Black Lives Matter's First Amendment–protected protests. He was a man of peace, even though he'll go down in history as the first U.S. president to have been at war for two full terms.
Democrats are understandably sad and angry now, and so am I. The Trump years won't be easy, especially since Republicans retained their majorities in the Senate and House. But whether or not loyal Democrats want to believe it, the Clinton years wouldn't have been easy either. We have no reason to believe she would have reversed Obama's deplorable anti-immigrant policies. We surely could have expected more wars, given her record as secretary of state and the basket of warmongers she chose to be on her national security working group. (And her admiration for Henry Kissinger.) The big banks would have gotten larger and remained free to do as much evil as possible, with only fines, never criminal prosecution, for punishment. The widespread government-backed slaughter of wildlife would probably have gone on unabated. (Democrats always pick someone from the Western U.S. who's hostile to animals—and Indians—for interior secretary and someone from the Midwest who's in the pocket of Big Agriculture for ag secretary.)
Partisan Democrats don't deserve what's coming from President Trump. But they must acknowledge that by largely ignoring the worst, anti-populist policies and proclivities of Obama and Bill Clinton, they enabled Hillary Clinton to push the concerns of progressives and the middle class to the side and run yet another uninspiring, coronation-like campaign. She and her fans figured running as the anti-Trump should be enough.
But it wasn't. Not when good jobs are still so scare. Not when the cost of government-mandated health insurance policies—and their deductibles—are going through the roof.
And now we're reliant on formerly passive Democratic voters to stay energized and insist the remaining Democrats in Congress—who are always inclined to compromise with and enable Republicans—fight Trump and Pence's evildoing at every turn and offer a truly populist and forward-thinking alternative to the right-wing lunacy. After all that's gone down since the ascendancy of the-still-much-beloved-by-partisans Bill Clinton and his always-be-triangulating political strategy, I can't possibly be optimistic that's going to happen.
1As that linked article states, McKibben was a member of that committee appointed by Bernie Sanders. Under Democratic National Committee rules, he was allowed to name five members (including Cornel West, who endorsed Jill Stein for president after Sanders endorsed Clinton), Clinton named six, and then–DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz named four.
2To answer the obvious, totally valid question of why I would vote for a Democrat in this race when pretty much this entire post is a rant against the Democratic Party and its blindly partisan fans: I voted for Peter Jacob because 1) there was no Green Party candidate in the race, 2) I wanted anti-abortion nut Leonard Lance to be defeated, 3) Jacob claimed he'd fight like hell to prevent the PennEast Pipeline from being constructed, and 4) he hadn't yet given me a reason to doubt he was committed to that fight, though anyone who's been paying attention to the proliferation of pipelines in this country knows Obama's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved loads of them and declined approval for only one. And I'm convinced that was for public relations, so the commissioners would be able to show they weren't rubber stampers for Big Petroleum 100% of the time.
3That article isn't timely for a very obvious reason, but it's a worthwhile summary of the ways in which Hillary Clinton, her husband, Obama, and their party have kowtowed to the banksters.
4That *ahem* thoughtful essay (my favorite line: "WTF is even a server?") was approvingly posted on Facebook by Pandora Boxx, one of my favorite drag queens. I'm by no means saying that writer's level of intelligence is typical of Democratic voters. But the crazy notion that voters can only fail their candidates—and never the other way around—is fairly common. Too many loyal Democrats don't understand or choose to reject the concepts of speaking truth to power and demanding something (or, hopefully, many things) in return for supporting a candidate.
5That article from December 2015 seems to acknowledge the Home Affordable Modification Program was extended to Dec. 31, 2016, when it gives that end date in the third paragraph. But no one changed the thrust of the story: that HAMP was soon to be history. At any rate, the rest of David Dayen's article is well worth a read in that it shows why in another month or so we'll finally, happily be rid of HAMP.