I have heard, on more than one occasion, progressives postulate that Hillary Clinton is a trigger-happy, corporate shill who will not take America forward. Some of these folks are actually considering voting for Donald Trump, hoping that the dark days of his presidency will bring about a progressive awakening to forever end the stranglehold a two-party system has on Americans, and usher in a new age of enlightened, peaceful coexistence, at home and abroad.
But there’s a problem with such “tear it all down and start over from scratch” thinking. I’m guessing that most people entertaining such notions probably feel that their circumstances are such that they can personally weather the season of fascistic anarchy that they fully expect to descend, as Trump ascends. They’ll be okay while America is shocked and awed into magically embracing a progressive, egalitarian socialism.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to get hurt or killed, see infrastructure niceties like education and healthcare whither and disappear, watch families ripped apart, and witness the daily norms of civility completely replaced by rampant “what’s in it for me?” desperation. In other words, things can always get a LOT worse than they are now.
I’m not willing to risk it. Unnecessarily inflicting systemic suffering on innocents less fortunate than you is reckless and cruel. I’m as tempted as anyone to suggest that widespread, often willful ignorance and bigotry justifies whatever fate befalls Trump’s supporters. But I strive – imperfectly – to resist such temptation. To yield to that impulse means I’m just like them, and it flies in the face of what I believe about such things as vengeance and turning the other cheek…
True, we Americans are participants in inflicting unspeakable horror on innocents in other countries, but look at Trump’s circle now. Do you really think our warmongering will abate when such as Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie and Sarah Palin are in positions of power? If we’re going to seek less war and more peace, Trump is a risk I’m not willing to entertain…
What to do then? I was an embittered Bernie supporter, unwilling to consider anyone else when he was defeated. And, here in Arkansas, I have the “luxury” of voting for a feel-good, third-party candidate if I choose to – Adolf Hitler and Charlie Manson could win elections here so long as they have an “R” behind their names… But my primary pride and my primary wounds have healed. I have made my peace with voting for a presidential candidate who can actually win, and who is not Donald J. Trump.
Is Hillary perfect? Hell no! But neither is she the devil that she’s been painted as for more than 30 years now. If she is as pragmatic and calculating a politician as the Wikileaks emails suggest, then we have far more of a chance to push and persuade her to embrace progressive ideas, than we do of keeping Trump from wrecking the country (and the world). Of course, that means the election is just the beginning. The progressive groundswell that yearned for Bernie cannot be complacent – we have to keep advocating for what we believe, and protesting mightily every Hillary dalliance with regressives and warmongers (like Henry Kissinger).
And we have to send a clear message to America’s regressives: your racism and xenophobia, your misogyny, your homophobia, your Islamophobia, your anti-reason, anti-science, anti-education, anti-history fundamentalism, your misguided sense of exceptionalism that smells like Ugly American arrogance – these are the intolerable, deplorable things that will never make America great. We understand your fear of change, your loss of innate privilege because your skin color is lighter than theirs, but you are the ones who are keeping America from being great, from striving to seek out the better things, like justice and mercy.
How do we send that message? How do we shout, for everyone to hear, that we will never again tolerate a slide backwards? Ever since the days of Saint Ronald of Hollywood, we have more or less slumbered as Republicans have undone (or hopelessly muddled) much of our progress that started during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The entire world invested much hope in Barack Hussein Obama, the black man in the White House, a man with an improbable pedigree and an improbable Muslim name, hope that he might suddenly reverse America’s backwards, bloody trajectory. But regressives have stymied nearly all his efforts to move forward, and Trump openly brags that he will dismantle whatever remains of Obama’s accomplishments.
As I see it, any progressive who votes for Trump is just waving a white flag of surrender. The regressives have won, and we give up. The rich will get richer, the middle class will dwindle and die, and America will be great again… Except that it won’t be great and I’m not ready to go there, to see all those years of progress end with a pathetic whimper so that a new progressivism can someday rise like a phoenix from the ashes of Trump’s America.
So I’m voting for Hillary, not because I’m crazy about her, but to send a clear message to the regressives, that I reject their ignorance and their paranoias and their selfish values. And I will raise hell every time I see Hillary try to slide backwards and accommodate them. And she will. And we must all push together, we must all raise hell together, if we really believe in that brighter future.
And not just for America. It’s time for a better idea than this quarrelsome patchwork of nation-states, where some have far more than they need, and others are exploited and plundered into unending hopelessness. We need more equality, more opportunity, more hope. For the sake of all life, and for the sake of this fragile planet we’re all stuck on together, we have to come up with a better way to lift up and care for everyone, even “the least of these” – no matter where they are or what they look like.
– Monsieur Jacques d’Nalgar, Mercredi, Octobre 26, 2016 CE