In this post, I’d like to comment on commonly heard statements about the US election. Buckle your seatbelt. Here goes.
Donald Trump is the worst presidential candidate ever. Agreed! He truly is. There’s no substance to his candidacy, AND he’s a lying, bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic jackass. But… DT is merely the worst example of what we’ve had over and over again. Even this year, there were equally (or even more) horrifying candidates such as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio etc. Every presidential election I find myself with the choice of a moderate, okay person who has some substance but falls way short of my ideal, OR someone who is truly horrifying. I was also extremely horrified in 2000 about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as I am now about Donald Trump. And there was John McCain in 2008 who chose Sarah Palin – Sarah Palin! – as his running mate. What kind of judgment is that? In 2012 there was the combination of Mitt Romney (as a practitioner of perhaps the most whacko religion on the planet) and Paul Ryan (whose famous budget would have screwed up the country big time). Donald Trump is merely another example of the same horrifying shit, just in an extra-despicable package.
Hillary Clinton is the most qualified presidential candidate ever. Maybe. I’ll grant she has a great résumé. But we’ve used holding high elected and appointed office as the yardstick for being “qualified” for a long time. How’s that working for us? I wouldn’t say it’s working very well. Hillary Clinton was not into civil rights early on (like Bernie Sanders was), was not in favor of marriage equality early on (like Bernie Sanders was), has been and still is highly militaristic and hawkish (unlike Bernie Sanders), and certainly has a cozier relationship with Wall Street than I would like. There are many reasons to think we could have someone with better judgment than she has. Sure she evolves, and I’m glad for that. But wouldn’t there be brilliant minds, e.g. scholars/experts in political science, history, sociology, economics, etc who, without ever holding office, might be great presidents? Surely. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, has been a governor, one of the main résumé items we’ve been considering as “qualifications” to be president; and he was unable to tell a reporter what Allepo was. I live in a state, Kentucky, where the governor by the name of Matt Bevin would be a horrible president. Indeed, George W. Bush who has been a governor of a large state and actually president for 8 years (how much more résumé for president can you get than that?) and if he were constitutionally eligible, he would still make for a horrible president. I’m not that impressed with these kinds of résumés – especially in our messed up, corrupt electoral system. So, other than her being a woman, and her not being a jackass, I’m not that excited about Hillary Clinton’s qualities, no matter what her “qualifications” are. And, yes Donald Trump is the worst presidential candidate ever. See above.
A vote for any third party candidate is a vote for Trump. I’ve actually heard this a lot. I can see some logic that a vote for Jill Stein in some states helps Trump get elected. I don’t see how a vote for Gary Johnson helps Trump get elected. Lumping all third party candidates together in this way is just pure fear mongering bullshit. And in our ridiculous undemocratic archaic Electoral College setup, everything depends on what state you’re talking about. Making a statement like the above as a blanket statement is utter nonesense. Yes, DT is the worst presidential candidate ever, but everyone can look at their own situation. There are different actions in different states possible that are not voting for HC, but still wouldn’t contribute to the election of DT.
Jill Stein isn’t qualified to be president. Donald Trump is one of the “major” party candidates and people can say that? I don’t think so. Most of the reasoning for a statement like this is that she has not been elected to anything. See the discussion about the flaws of such a notion as this above. Jill Stein has done her homework (unlike Donald Trump and Gary Johnson), and she overall articulates nuanced and thoughtful policy positions.
Jill Stein has said some wacky things. Kind of. Let me unpack some things. There are three items in this category that I know of. One is some remarks she made about being concerned about how much time children spend staring at electronic screens and being around wifi. Okay, that is a bit wacky. I don’t know why she would say such a thing, or what audience she was talking to. But this is hardly an issue that would take up any time of a president. A second instance was that she followed up her statement on being pro-vaccines with a statement that we should keep an eye on corporations who profit in the healthcare business (i.e. she’s in favor of regulations, and more than that she’s in favor of public, universal, single payer healthcare). And she mentioned wanting the FDA to have no ties to corporations in the for-profit healthcare industry. The latter is actually a good sentiment, if perhaps a bit utopian. I really wish, when she was asked about vaccines, she would have said I’m for them and I believe in them. And then said nothing more. Because she truly is pro-vaccines. The third thing involved her policy position on GMOs. Her position is that there should be a moratorium on them until they are proven safe. She’s dead wrong on this because they’ve already been proven safe! See my blog posts here and here. I’m still baffled by progressive, educated people who go with the scientific consensus on vaccines and climate change, but don’t go with the scientific consensus on the safety and value of biotechnology in agriculture. Okay…so here’s my bottom line. We have one thing that is a little wacky, one thing that really isn’t, and one thing where she’s dead wrong (GMOs) which ironically is in agreement with the mistaken point of view of Bernie Sanders and millions of people who are going to vote for Hillary Clinton. But all three of these items are relatively small potatoes compared to the bulk of her platform. Because overwhelmingly what Jill Stein is proposing is much of what almost all other successful advanced developed nations do that the US doesn’t. I’m talking about universal single payer healthcare, much less military and use of military, higher minimum wages, free public education through college level, higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy, ending the so-called war on drugs and the private for-profit prison industry. Those things aren’t wacky at all. They are proven with actual data to produce better results and even happier people than what we’re doing now – and it would produce better results than what Democrats and Hillary Clinton propose.
And…I’m a realist. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president. As I said in my previous post, in order for a true, progressive revolution to happen, we’ve been putting the cart before the horse. Real and very significant electoral reforms will have to happen first. Until then, all we can do is spin the wheels of futility. On November 8 we will hopefully breathe a big sigh of relief that Donald Trump did not make it. And even though that means we will have elected the first woman president (a good, symbolic achievement that I’m all for), real progress will not have budged much, if at all.