Leveraging My Dissent: Why Saying I’ll Vote for Clinton Wouldn’t Help My Cause

 

An acquaintance of mine posted a meme titled “You Voted for Bernie but Refuse to Vote for Hillary?” that then goes on to say:

“Tell me more about how you’d rather deport the parents of American children, ban people from the country based on their religion, throw millions off health insurance, maintain a poverty minimum wage, not invest in green energy, add $10-$12 billion to the deficit with the largest tax cut for the rich in American history, set back the movement for decades by handing over the Supreme Court for a generation instead of voting for the party that adopted 80% of Bernie’s platform and is running on the most progressive agenda in the party’s history and of your lifetime.”

So I figured I would respond. No, I would rather not do those things. And, no, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton  unless on November 1st she’s in a dead fucking heat with Donald Trump. In which case, if no other candidate of my choice is in the race and ahead of both of them, I’ll begrudgingly vote for Clinton. But she will fucking  owe me .

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to rip this meme a new asshole. It is wildly ubiquitous in its argumentation, the argument of “pragmatism” and “reasonable compromise,” etc., etc. None of which sways me in the least because it is neither. It is fearmongering at best, and propaganda for the political status quo at worst. There’s hardly room for a sliver of light between the two because the spectrum here is awfully constricted. Like too many bad memes and bad “discussion points” it is not meant to encourage intelligent discussion any more than FOX News or The Drudge Report are. It’s meant to browbeat you into guilty submission. The official translation is this: “Hey, you idiot, if you want to send the U.S. into a fascist nightmare for the next twenty years, stick stubbornly to your ignorant ‘principles’ and see what happens. You’ll be to blame! Idiot!”

By refusing to endorse or support Clinton, stubbornly and deliberately, I want to continue to raise awareness of how our two-party, winner-take-all utterly broken electoral system is ruining representative democracy in this country.  

Well, who wouldn’t follow that illogic? That my acquaintance who posted this meme is a college professor makes it that much worse. Sheep shouldn’t be allowed to teach.

I am speaking only for myself here. I don’t claim to know what the rest of the Sanders’ supporters who claim they will not vote for Clinton are thinking or what they hope to accomplish. I do know what I hope to accomplish, and that is this: By refusing to endorse or support Clinton, stubbornly and deliberately, I want to continue to raise awareness of how our two-party, winner-take-all utterly broken electoral system is ruining representative democracy in this country.

How does my stubborn refusal to support Clinton do that, you ask? It irritates people like my acquaintance. Why? I can’t say exactly what his personal reason is, but I can certainly speculate that – like millions of Americans – he can’t imagine a better way to run our elections and if he can, he can’t imagine it’s possible to change things.

Of course, others who espouse this kind of meme would argue that Clinton adopting aspects of Sanders’ platform means that there will be “change” and that we should be patient and practical about what we can accomplish. Perhaps that’s true, but while change in the minimum wage, availability of health insurance, Citizens United, etc., are all desirable, there is a more important change that needs to happen in order to assure we never again encounter as loathsome a choice as this for president of the United States.  We have to change the way we choose. Without that, we are forever at the mercy of corporate democracy and corporate media, which insists that there are only ever going to be two parties – and both parties are fairly closely aligned in their devotion to the system itself. Neither likes the idea of competition.

We have to change the way we choose. Without that, we are forever at the mercy of corporate democracy and corporate media, which insists that there are only ever going to be two parties – and both parties are fairly closely aligned in their devotion to the system itself. Neither likes the idea of competition. 

In that sense, we lost a truly representative government decades ago. Labor unions have been crushed, shattered and scattered, minimizing the voice of working class Americans and leaving them voiceless as millions of jobs move to sweatshops in Mexico, China, Vietnam, etc. Our ability to vote has been restricted and hampered by unnecessary voter I.D. restrictions, blatant partisan gerrymandering, eliminating polling places, closed elections, and politically motivated voter purges ( one in Florida  did far more to hand the presidency to George W. Bush than the oft-maligned Ralph Nader). Corporations are merging in record numbers, creating vast media conglomerates that have reduced thousands of media outlets into six that now control virtually all mainstream media available to us. And corporations can contribute ungodly sums of money to Super PACs with little to no transparency, and the vast majority of our politicians greedily spend their days asking for more money and more money instead of truly representing a population that is growing less and less equal in terms of income. In fact, not since the 1920s has income inequality been as bad as it is now in the United States. So with less money, less power, and less voice in the ballot box, the majority of Americans aren’t so much represented by their government as they are ignored by it.

Furthermore, the privatization of prisons has created a financial incentive to imprison more of our citizens than any other nation on the planet. The rise of highly biased and unregulated “newstainment” networks like FOX News and Clear Channel radio stations has made mockery of journalism and incited divisive and dismissive ideologies that perpetuate racist, homophobic and inhumane attitudes every hour of every day. (You can thank Bill Clinton for that, by the way. He signed the  Telecommunications Act of 1996  into law, allowing the conglomeration of news media. Prior to that, Ronald Reagan made sure that the  Fairness Doctrine  would no longer be enforced, thus opening the door for non-stop propaganda networks.) Between corporate media and corporate prisons and corporate-owned politicians, the perpetuation of racist and hyperbolic myths about drug abuse and crime have ensured a bounty of non-violent “offenders” with which to populate its money-making prisons and to fill their inflammatory crime stat sheets.

…let’s begin by recognizing that this election has become about something more than the two presumptive nominees that have the lowest favorability ratings in decades. How we came to this miserable choice is the issue that we should all be raising hell about.

As for the social safety net, it lies in tatters. Welfare reform signed into law by Bill Clinton and endorsed by Hillary Clinton has led to a dwindling set of resources for the poor, the sick and the unemployed. Educating yourself to get out of poverty or to make more money only exacerbates record levels of college debt that is a financial disaster for millions of hard-working Americans. Even our public school system is being destroyed by partisan de-funding and special treatment for private and charter schools that are not accountable to voters. The rich can afford the best education money has to buy; the rest of us are forced to watch our kids endure inadequately funded schools and teachers and hope for the best.

So, no, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I will definitely not vote for Donald Fucking Trump, not even in protest. I will instead continue to piss on the parade of lemmings that insist the issue is settled and to just pick one side or the other. Fuck that. The issue isn’t settled, and attempting to bully anyone into anything is simply unethical and wrong. It’s never right to bully. Ever.

But if you want to talk about something in a meaningful, reasonable and civil way, let’s. And let’s begin by recognizing that this election has become about something more than the two presumptive nominees that have the lowest favorability ratings in decades. How we came to this miserable choice is the issue that we should all be raising hell about. The fact that so few people like either candidate for president of the United States should be in the news every day, every hour. That it isn’t is testimony to what’s wrong with our politics, the power of corporations and the transparent bias of our news media in favor of a corrupt status quo.

The conversation about these issues stops if I just cave and throw my support to Clinton. I don’t want that. We can’t afford to let the conversation stop. We have to keep the pressure on to change, and the leverage at our disposal is our dissent. 

We should be talking about opening up our political process to more parties, and eliminating the unfair advantages of access available only to Republicans and Democrats. We should be talking about normalizing our election rules across every state, and allowing federal oversight to assure every state makes its elections as user-friendly as possible. We should be talking about making voting easier, allowing vote by mail, automatically registering voters the minute they reach voting age, eliminating voting restrictions for those who served time in prison in the past, etc. We should be talking about eliminating gerrymandering so that politicians can no longer choose their voters and avoid opposition. We should be talking about implementing ranked choice voting in our elections so that the reviled “spoiler” argument would no longer have us holding our noses at the ballot box. Ranked choice is simple: You rank the candidates in the order of preference. Whoever gets a majority of 1st choice votes wins; if no one gets a majority, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and those voters 2nd choices are added to the totals. Whoever gets a majority wins. This policy alone would have had enormous implications for our current predicament in the presidential election.

The conversation about these issues stops if I just cave and throw my support to Clinton. I don’t want that. We can’t afford to let the conversation stop. We have to keep the pressure on to change, and the leverage at our disposal is our dissent. For the first time in decades, a progressive movement has some real opportunity to express a modicum of power.

So, either join the conversation about substance or continue the mindless, Rush Limbaugh-like bullying. It’s your choice. The bullies that matter to me are the ones corrupting our society and our economy, and me clamming up now would only make them happy and content. I have no desire to make them – or any bullies – happy. And I have at least until November 1st to make them sweat.

Leave a Reply