Sam Smith – As things now stand, we are headed towards choosing a presidency that will be, no matter which way we vote, strikingly untrustworthy, unreliable and corrupt. It is not too early to to try to figure out how to deal with this situation. Here are a few suggestions.
Choose the lesser of two evils. Opposition to this approach is often used as an argument for staying home on election day or voting for a third party. Even though I helped to start two third parties, I have opposed such ineffectual involvement at the presidential level except in states where the results are obvious. Third parties have to grow from the bottom up and can get falsely blamed for unhappy national results as when Nader was charged with Gore’s loss even though Gore’s popularity during the campaign had declined far more than Nader’s total percentage.
Further, not choosing the lesser of two evils is more like a evangelical religious act than a political one. It parades your virtue without considering the consequences to others. If, for example, your vote were to help elect a candidate who then drastically cuts food stamps, the cost of your personal virtue to others would be quite high.
In fact, we choose the lesser of two evils all the time. We call it life. And if we didn’t, suicide rates would soar.
Admittedly it can be a difficult choice. For example, Lyndon Johnson, who got more good legislation through in less time than any other president, also got us into the Vietnam War disaster, Yet his opponent was Barry Goldwater who wanted more foreign escapades and accused LBJ of “making promises to buy votes at home while the world smolders and burns.” Goldwater also opposed the president on issues like labor unions, and federal involvement in civil rights. Still, voting for the lesser of two evils in 1964, in balance, was the best choice.
I don’t enjoy picking the lesser evil but since I don’t view my personal virtue as more important than what happens to millions of others, I will, if I have to, take a barf bag along and go vote for Hillary Clinton.
Keep what Bernie Sanders started going: The Sanders campaign was the most encouraging thing that has happened in American politics in several decades. While the corporate media dutifully picks up the Clinton line that Sanders should drop out, in fact the primaries were potentially just the start of a movement that could dramatically change the face of America for the better. The next step for this movement, for example, is to move the Democratic platform closer to what it was before the Democratic Leadership Council and Bill Clinton transformed it to GOP Lite. And if Hillary Clinton is elected, the movement Bernie started can remind her daily that it is still there. Politics is not just about politics, it can also be a technique to start or grow a movement.
Treat the election as about issues rather than personality – People used to talked far more about Republican and Democratic positions than they did treating politics as though it was just another American Idol show. In this election, the White House is just one of the choices. We are also choosing a Supreme Court and perhaps even a Senate. Bad as Hillary Clinton may be, she is still a Democrat and more likely to support the better positions of her party. Yes, there are dangers, such as her pro-war tendency but whose hand would you like closer to the nuclear button: hers or Trump’s?
Organize people, not symbols and words – As America’s liberal minority has become better educated, it has placed excessive emphasis on semiotic and symbolic matters and less on the basic job of organizing people. Thus we have attacks on various signs and symbols on college campuses or on the language people use even as effective people organizing remains weak. Removing Woodrow Wilson’ name from a college building does not improve urban policing in the slightest. We need more cures than critiques.
Stop dissin’ the people you need on your side – Every time I hear a liberal attacking “white privilege” I think of the fact that there are almost twice as many poor whites in this country as there are poor blacks. There was a time when activists would attempt to get these two constituencies together, but that was before liberals began attacking the very people they should be enlisting. Go after their misleaders – like Donald Trump- but help their victms find a better way to solve the problems that led them to fall for them.
Remind people of the difference between Democrats and Republicans: The Democrats have brought us Social Security, the minimum wage, food stamps, Medicare, and scores of similar programs. The GOP work on such crucial issues has varied from pathetic to opposition. A few years ago I started collecting a list of institutions and programs that prominent GOP figures criticized or acted against. Here’s the list:
9/11 responders, AARP, Americorps, bicyclists and bikes, black men, Census, children with pre-existing health conditions, college graduates, college students, consumers, cops, disabled people, disaster victims, earthquake warnings, employed women, EPA, ethnically mixed couples, federal courts, Federal Reserve Board, fire fighters, food stamp recipients, gays, home owners, ill people who need medical marijuana, immigrants and their children,
internal revenue service, journalists, latinos, Medicare, Medicaid recipients, minimum wage workers, minimum wage, National Endowment For The Arts, National Institutes Of Health, national parks, National Science Foundation, NPR & PBS, postal service, public school students, public workers, residents of Dc-Guam-Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Sandy Storm victims, scientists, separation of church and state, social security recipients, state workers, teachers, unemployed workers, United Nations, wildlife, and wom