(I know I said this is a theater review website now, and it is, this is a momentary diversion that I’ve been meaning to write for a while, I’ll get back to the real good stuff after the election.)
Got to vote tomorrow, got to make some decisions. I am going to lay out my position. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, or saying a person is good or bad for agreeing with me or disagreeing with me — I think it’s good to vote, because participation in democracy is essential to the existence of democracy, but beyond that I’m not going to say who you should vote for. You’ve got to do what you think is right, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to do that.
I’m going to say what I think is the best thing to do for me, and maybe it’ll convince you, maybe it’ll convince you to do the opposite, life is mysterious, but at least we’ll all know where we stand.
First, let me lay out my problem with Hillary Clinton. The problem that I have with Clinton, and with liberalism in general, is this: I believe in ending the existence of an exploitative state. That includes ending the privileges the state gives to exploitative property owners (i.e., capitalism) and ending the global hegemonic domination of other nations (i.e., imperialism). I think these things are bad, right up there with racism and misogyny and homophobia and every other bad thing you can imagine.
And the problem that I have is that it seems to me that liberals think that the problem with, for instance, capitalism, is that it’s discriminatory: that it’s major drawback is that black people aren’t permitted to fully participate in it, or that women are barred from being full participants in it.
I think it’s bad to keep everyone but straight white men from full-participation in society, but I also think that the society that we’re keeping people from is, itself, bad. You can see why this sometimes feels counterproductive: ending the discrimination against women in executive positions in Fortune 500 companies only reinforces the idea that there ought to be Fortune 500 companies to begin with. Improving the number of black people among our billionaire ownership class implicitly concedes the idea that we ought to have a billionaire ownership class.
I like a lot of Clinton’s policies, but at the end of the day too many of them seem geared to supporting the existence of the capital class.
(Just as an example: Clinton’s original policy for higher education is student loan reform; I LIKE student loan reform, I’ll take student loan reform, but at the end of the day, I disagree with the treatment of education as part of a commodity market instead of a universal human right.)
This is my reservation about voting for Clinton: by helping her get elected, am I going to participate in reinforcing an economically and military exploitative state?
Well, yes, I am, so the question is should I do that?
In order to determine if I should do something, I need to know what my options are — for me, because I don’t have much of a conscience or any particular affection for others (in general, but especially politicians), the only thing that matters to me are the direct and specific consequences of the actual, material choices available to me.
So, what are they?
A third-party is a possibility, but I don’t think a viable one. And I don’t mean to say that I don’t think a third party could win — I think a third party COULD win, I just don’t think THESE third parties can win.
The reason for that is that, like or dislike the Democrats and the GOP, they’re both essentially coalition parties. The GOP are a coalition of libertarians, god-botherers, and bloodthirsty capital interests; the Democrats are a coalition of liberals, leftists, and slightly-less-bloodthirsty capital interests. They both have a lot of shitheads in them, and the reason for that is that America has a lot of shitheads living in it, and if you want to win a presidential election, you need shitheads to vote for you.
The problem with both the Libertarian and Green Parties is that each one speaks to a smaller subset of the two larger parties, and tries to make the argument that they can win WITHOUT the shithead vote. But this is plainly absurd — the Green Party can’t win an election trying to draw off some of the Democrats unless it also draws off a bunch of Republicans, but the Republicans who are willing to be drawn off are no more willing to vote for the Green Party than they are to set themselves on fire.
At the end of the day, the president is almost always compromised. The few instances where we’ve had a president with a genuine commitment to change have been almost accidents: Franklin Roosevelt won, but he was running against a guy who literally caused the Depression. Theodore Roosevelt was a reformer, but he didn’t get elected the first time, he took over when McKinley was assassinated — and that was after having been made vice President specifically so he COULDN’T get anything done.
Abraham Lincoln, of course, was not a Radical Republican, and he didn’t campaign on platform of abolition — and, more importantly, if he HAD campaigned on a platform of abolition, he’d probably have lost.
America is full of shitheads, is the problem.
So, what are my options here? I can vote for Clinton, and reinforce a status quo that I think is, in many ways, monstrous (see, for example, the five wars we’re currently fighting and for which there is no end in sight). I can vote for a third or fourth or fifth party candidate, but because those parties are unwilling to countenance the presence of shitheads, none of them are going to win.
Third party means either: 1) Trump wins, 2) Clinton wins, 3) electoral draw: if no candidate gets 270 electoral votes, congress gets to elect someone from the top 3 finishers. That means Trump, Clinton, or Gary Johnson, which doesn’t make me much better off. First of all, I’d no more risk a Gary Johnson presidency by inaction than I’d vote for a Libertarian in the first place: if my fear is accidentally reinforcing an exploitative state, voting Libertarian is like trying to avoid being bitten by a snake by diving into a pit filled with tens of millions of snakes.
Practically, Clinton and Trump are my only options.
And here’s the thing about Trump: I’m not really afraid that Trump is going to start a nuclear war. I think if he tried to do that, there’d be a military coup — I’d, frankly, support a military coup if it meant stopping Trump from starting a nuclear war. It’d mean the end of the Republic, but if it has to end, I’d rather it end averting a nuclear holocaust than it end in the midst of one.
Honestly, Trump doesn’t scare me at all, because I know what he’d do: he’d get elected, then fuck off to Twitter and rubber stamp everything that Congress sends his way.
The guy that scares me isn’t Trump, it’s Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan is going to roll back the social safety net, cut off SNAP benefits for hundreds of thousands of people, and make the remainder impossible to live on. He’ll keep childcare inaccessible, switch Medicaid to block grants which will deprive millions of healthcare. He’ll bust unions, gut workplace protections, dismantle social security. He’ll cut off reproductive rights for millions of women, he’ll permit the oppression of gay and lesbian and transgender people. He’ll happily watch the Voting Rights act get further eroded, limiting our ability to change the law, and ensuring a permanent GOP majority.
This isn’t speculation, either — these are all policies that he’s explicitly supported. Mike Pence has supported conversion therapy (this is a “therapy” process where you stop kids from being gay by torturing them until they kill themselves), supported discrimination against gays and lesbians, required women to hold funerals for their miscarriages.
The danger of a Trump administration is not his volatility, temper, or apparent narcissism — it’s the steady, careful, and considered destruction by the GOP of literally every human protection against exploitation that we’ve established in the last hundred years.
This is their stated goal. It is the reason the GOP exists — to dismantle humanity and auction it off to whoever’s got the money to pay for it.
So, from my perspective it looks like this:
1) Vote for Clinton.
Consequence: permit the instantiation of an exploitative state.
2) Vote for Trump
Consequence: permit the instantiation of an exploitative state that would grow exponentially worse.
3) Vote for Gary Johnson
Consequence: permit the instantiation of an exploitative state that would grow exponentially worse, either helping to elect Trump or actually electing Gary Johnson.
4) Vote for Jill Stein
Consequence: either Clinton gets elected anyway, or Trump gets elected, or 3) I create an electoral tie, which yields options 1, 2, or 3 again.
I’m left with the option of voting for Clinton and getting a scenario that’s bad, or voting for anyone else and risking a scenario that is much, much worse.