I got my voter information guide a few days ago, and I was pleased to see there was a candidate I hadn’t heard of before: Gloria La Riva, the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. I’m not formally registered with a party, but I voted Peace and Freedom in 2008 (Ralph Nader) and 2012 (Roseanne Barr). La Riva’s 10-point platform had me from the first item:
1. For the earth to live, capitalism must end
I have a feeling she’s not going to be a popular choice. As I’m writing this, I think Jill Stein is polling at 3%. If everyone just did what I did, or at least everyone who would’ve been willing to vote for Bernie Sanders, we could have an actual socialist president! It’s within our grasp. All we have to do is vote for Gloria La Riva, which is still permissible.
I guess we don’t have enough deontologists in the world. The Democrats rely on everybody’s “lesser of two evils” consequentialism, and they promote that view of ethics. Often, that involves shaming third-party voters like myself. The reasons are clearly defensive.
Being a doomer since 2007 or 2008, I’ve had a lot of arguments about doom. There’s almost always some emotional resistance to “getting it”. Something called The Ladder of Awareness was posted to the collapse subreddit, and it matches my experience. People start out unaware of the problems. Then they become aware of 1 problem, which becomes a pet issue. Then they become aware of multiple problems. The shift towards being a doomer only happens once you start thinking about how the problems are connected. You no longer have solutions, but lots of unpleasant tradeoffs. Then you have to grieve all that and come to a sort of peace:
5. Awareness that the predicament encompasses all aspects of life. This includes everything we do, how we do it, our relationships with each other, as well as our treatment of the rest of the biosphere and the physical planet. With this realization, the floodgates open, and no problem is exempt from consideration or acceptance. The very concept of a “Solution” is seen through, and cast aside as a waste of effort.
For those who arrive at Stage 5 there is a real risk that depression will set in. After all, we’ve learned throughout our lives that our hope for tomorrow lies in our ability to solve problems today. When no amount of human cleverness appears able to solve our predicament the possibility of hope can vanish like the light of a candle flame, to be replaced by the suffocating darkness of despair.
How people cope with despair is of course deeply personal, but it seems to me there are two general routes people take to reconcile themselves with the situation. These are not mutually exclusive, and most of us will operate out of some mix of the two. I identify them here as general tendencies, because people seem to be drawn more to one or the other. I call them the outer path and the inner path.
By “outer path,” he means taking an interest in things like perma-culture and surviving off the grid. By “inner path”, he means going in a religious or psychotherapeutic direction. The following numbers are made up, but they illustrate the point that each increase in awareness has a low chance of happening, so the odds of completing the process aren’t that high:
From my observations, each successive stage contains roughly a tenth of the number people as the one before it. So while perhaps 90% of humanity is in Stage 1, less than one person in ten thousand will be at Stage 5 (and none of them are likely to be politicians). The number of those who have chosen the inner path in Stage 5 also seems to be an order of magnitude smaller than the number who are on the outer path.
How many people vote Peace and Freedom again? How many of them are vegan? I have strong peer pressure resistance from my Jehovah’s Witness upbringing, but not everyone can be so lucky. Clearly, Hillary Clinton supporters outnumber third party voters. The fear of shunning by fellow Democrats must be a significant factor in preventing people from “voting their conscience”. Just reading the news, I come across articles like this one on The New Civil Rights Movement (lol presumptuous title). Your 3rd-Party “Statement” Vote Is A Vote For Ignorance And Privilege: Supporting Non-Viable, Unqualified Candidates Only Harms The Most Vulnerable Among Us. I imagine that could be devastating for someone suffering from white fragility and trying to be a Good Liberal.
Who is this guy trying to shame me, anyway? His name is Robbie Medwed, and this is how he describes himself:
While I’m all for anyone voting against GOP nominee Donald Trump for pretty much any reason — and wow, are there many — I want to shift the conversation back. I’m not just voting against Trump, I’m proudly voting for Hillary Clinton [link to source].
Before we go any further I should tell you that no, I’m not affilliated [sic] with the Clinton campaign. Yes, I’ve worked on Democratic campaigns and will probably work on others in the future, but so far, they’ve all been local or statewide races.
This is all me, and I’ll say it again: I’m proudly voting for Hillary Clinton. She’s not just the best candidate for the job in relation to the other possibilities, she’s the best we’ve seen in a long time.
When people wrote in to say “Never Hillary”, he wrote the “ignorance and privilege” post in response. Let’s talk about feelings.
This is Medwed, replying to the point that Clinton was against gay marriage before she was for it. What’s interesting is the strong need for validation:
Here’s my response: So what? She’s there now. There are lots of folks who were involved in the fight, whether on the ground or at a policy level, who gladly take wins however we can get them.
A win’s a win. She may not have been with us before, but she took the time to listen, learn and act. She’s there now and she’s gone even farther — she’s more pro-LGBT going into the election than any other major party candidate in history.
Literally, there is no other candidate in the history of our country who is or has been more pro-LGBT than Clinton is. She’s talked openly about rights that go far beyond marriage — and she hasn’t been afraid to talk about trans non-discrimination laws. In fact, I kind of love it even more when a politician’s personal views don’t always match their public policy positions because they understand that their responsibility is to their constituents and not to themselves.
This is similar to the reason black people express support for the Clintons: they “feel our pain”. Part of the difference in politics comes down to a difference in attribution. We can all agree on a timeline of Clinton’s votes and public statements. In his view of the world, he feels listened to. He was an effective teacher. Clinton acts and speaks as a selfless representative of her constituents.
You could also say that Clinton lacks principles and specializes in insincere pandering. That would be supported by this quote from Hillary herself (thanks to Wikileaks):
I mean, politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position. And finally, I think — I believe in evidence-based decision making. I want to know what the facts are. I mean, it’s like when you guys go into some kind of a deal, you know, are you going to do that development or not, are you going to do that renovation or not, you know, you look at the numbers. You try to figure out what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.
What do they have to do to lose your vote? was like the antithesis of Robbie Medwed’s articles. It helped convince me to vote for Nader in 2008. In the end, do we stand for anything? “A win’s a win” is wrong. There is such a thing as a Pyrrhic victory. Hillary Clinton describes herself as essentially right-wing:
And on the other side, there’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free healthcare, that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough, and that we just need to, you know, go as far as, you know, Scandinavia, whatever that means, and half the people don’t know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel. So as a friend of mine said the other day, I am occupying from the center-left to the center-right. And I don’t have much company there. Because it is difficult when you’re running to be president, and you understand how hard the job is — I don’t want to overpromise. I don’t want to tell people things that I know we cannot do.
Just like in 2008, it’s in the news that the Democratic candidate will maintain the status quo, but people want to win. They want to vote for the first female President. It’s depressing to be on the losing team, as I can confirm.
Robbie Medwed believes Hillary Clinton invented the idea of health care reform in 1993:
In terms of healthcare, she was the pioneer who first brought the idea of universal healthcare to the US. (Seriously, that’s where the seeds of Obamacare were planted.)
The actual history is more like this:
In 1917, the AMA House of Delegates favored compulsory health insurance as proposed by the AALL, but many state medical societies opposed it. There was disagreement on the method of paying physicians and it was not long before the AMA leadership denied it had ever favored the measure. Meanwhile the president of the American Federation of Labor repeatedly denounced compulsory health insurance as an unnecessary paternalistic reform that would create a system of state supervision over people’s health. They apparently worried that a government-based insurance system would weaken unions by usurping their role in providing social benefits. Their central concern was maintaining union strength, which was understandable in a period before collective bargaining was legally sanctioned.
The commercial insurance industry also opposed the reformers’ efforts in the early 20th century. There was great fear among the working class of what they called a “pauper’s burial,” so the backbone of insurance business was policies for working class families that paid death benefits and covered funeral expenses. But because the reformer health insurance plans also covered funeral expenses, there was a big conflict. Reformers felt that by covering death benefits, they could finance much of the health insurance costs from the money wasted by commercial insurance policies who had to have an army of insurance agents to market and collect on these policies. But since this would have pulled the rug out from under the multi-million dollar commercial life insurance industry, they opposed the national health insurance proposal.
In 1917, the US entered WWI and anti-German fever rose. The government-commissioned articles denouncing “German socialist insurance” and opponents of health insurance assailed it as a “Prussian menace” inconsistent with American values. Other efforts during this time in California, namely the California Social Insurance Commission, recommended health insurance, proposed enabling legislation in 1917, and then held a referendum. New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois also had some efforts aimed at health insurance. But in the Red Scare, immediately after the war, when the government attempted to root out the last vestiges of radicalism, opponents of compulsory health insurance associated it with Bolshevism and buried it in an avalanche of anti-Communist rhetoric. This marked the end of the compulsory national health debate until the 1930’s.
So Robbie Medwed is ignorant of history. In that light, his scolding is pretty harsh:
A vote for a third-party candidate in 2016 can only be justified by privilege or ignorance. You’re either going to be safe enough (thanks to your masculinity or your race) to not be affected poorly by Trump’s policies or you’re so foolish you think your third-party vote will matter. Either way, it’s incredibly selfish and irresponsible, and it shouldn’t be who we are as a society.
The mark of a great society is how well it treats its most vulnerable. Voting third-party in 2016 flies in the face of that belief. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton WILL be elected president on Nov. 8, and you’ve got a decision to make.
Actually, the majority of poor and Hispanic eligible voters don’t vote at all. If everyone did what they did and boycotted the elections, they’d lose legitimacy and that would increase the odds of Real Change happening in our lifetimes. Since they’re not voting, does Medwed think that makes them blameworthy for their disadvantages in life? Their interests are not represented in government, by design. Like a privileged person, Medwed thinks his opinions do matter, and that powerful people listen to his interest groups and act on what they hear.
If voting is a “statement”, and it is, what kind of statement is a person making by voting for Clinton?
I get that there are some folks who believe they’re making a moral choice by voting third-party. Plenty of people have convinced themselves that there’s some sort of moral equivalence between Trump’s racism, misogyny, xenophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia and overall offensive bigotry, and Clinton’s bad decisions — both of which she’s acknowledged, learned from, and apologized for (not that Trump’s ever apologized for anything in his life). Let me say this as clearly as possible: These are not moral equivalents. Not on any level, so let’s stop even entertaining the possibility that they are.
Besides implying that Clinton has made only 2 mistakes and learned from them (!), he’s telling the reader to just stop thinking? WHY do people entertain the idea that there’s a moral equivalence? Johanna Fernández puts it this way:
What is also dangerous, however, is that Hillary is now set to shore-up US hegemony at home and abroad with renewed vigor and the backing of both parties. Unlike Trump, she is a very desirable manager of the state in crisis, much like Obama in the aftermath of the Iraq debacle. It is important to reiterate what has been said before: that the racist ideology that today fuels and animates Trump’s campaign was institutionalized and amplified by the crime, anti-welfare, anti-immigrant, and anti-terrorism legislation advanced by the Clintons in the 1990s, not to mention NAFTA, the domestic corporate class war they advanced, and the reactionary post 9/11 wars and legislation they vigorously supported, which also enlarged the far right.
Things like the invasion of Libya or the war in Iraq are just “mistakes” that she’s “taken the heat for” and learned from, because they involve countries in Africa and the Middle East. What’s happened to women and children in those countries? Whatever it is, it counts less than Donald Trump’s smaller-scale mistreatment of Americans. That’s racist. Of course, Hillary Clinton believes in American exceptionalism. She goes on about it at some length:
Today I want you to know a little bit about where I stand and how I see the world and America’s place in it. I spent four years as your Secretary of State, eight years before that as Senator from the great state of New York, six years on the Senate Armed Services Committee. If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way, it is this. The United States is an exceptional nation. I believe we are still Lincoln’s last, best hope of Earth. We’re still Reagan’s shining city on a hill. We’re still Robert Kennedy’s great, unselfish, compassionate country.
And it’s not just that we have the greatest military or that our economy is larger than any on Earth. It’s also the strength of our values, the strength of the American people. Everyone who works harder, dreams bigger and never, ever stops trying to make our country and the world a better place. And part of what makes America an exceptional nation, is that we are also an indispensable nation.
In fact, we are the indispensable nation. People all over the world look to us and follow our lead. My friends, we are so lucky to be Americans. It is an extraordinary blessing. It’s why so many people, from so many places, want to be Americans too. But it’s also a serious responsibility. The decisions we make and the actions we take, even the actions we don’t take, affect millions even billions of lives.
We’ve got the American Jesus, overwhelming millions every day.
Yes, Donald Trump is a white supremacist with a large ego. Look over there. We have to stop him before somebody gets hurt. Do not even entertain the thought of moral equivalence. Stay here. Never leave the Party. Obey. Hillary Clinton likes to cuddle with newborn babies. Rainbows.