An activist friend takes one last shot

He posted this on Facebook today:

I’m going to try, one last time, to talk without rancor to those of you are thinking of voting for Stein or not voting at all instead of voting for Hillary Clinton.

And let me start by saying that every activist I know who has played a role in actually changing public policy in a progressive direction is voting for Hillary. And that includes all of us who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary.

I know an awful lot of them. I know people have fought for civil rights laws; opposed the Vietnam War; made the Clean and Water Act possible; secured increases in the minimum wage; reformed health care; raised taxes on the rich; expanded funding for education at all levels: pre-k, K-12, higher education; tax soda, brought supermarkets into food deserts; expanded housing opportunity. We are all, without exception, voting for Hillary Clinton.

Some of us don’t trust her. Some of us opposed some of the public policies she and Bill have supported in the 90s including the Crime Bill and Welfare “reform”. Some of us are fearful of her inclination to go to war. Some of us are worried about her ties to corporate America.

Many of us think she’s a basically progressive politician who is opportunistic like all politicians (including Bernie who when he needed to support the NRA or vote for the same Crime Bill, founds ways to do so.) She’s had a national stage over a rapidly changing thirty years. It would be crazy to expect that her views hadn’t evolved over time as progressive forces grew stronger in those thirty years. But we believe that, most of the time, she’s gone as far left as she’s been able to. We think her heart is in the right place.

We all know from our long experience in advocacy and organizing that with her in office we have a chance to make some progress and push this county in a progressive direction, in both domestic and foreign policy. We know we will have to push. Progress is never made from the top but only from the bottom by people who push politicians to do the right thing. But we also know that, for one reason or another, she is amenable to being pushed in our direction.

With Trump in office, however, the far right Republican majority in Congress will be empowered to do awful things. We are going to lose or see drastic cuts to important public policies—the ACA, Medicaid, Food Stamps—that make a huge difference to those with low incomes and to our communities. We are going to have tax cuts that starve the government of revenues and force further cuts in domestic spending. We are going to end even the small steps Obama has taken to deal with global warming. We are going to have more toxic wastes in our air and water. We are going to have a Supreme Court that overturns the right to abortion and gay marriage, that undermines labor unions, that totally opens the floodgates to corporate money in our politics.

And what’s worse, so many of these changes are going to make it even harder to reverse direction in this country. We will be fighting an even more uphill battle to make progress next time. We are likely to be fighting for the very right to vote.

I understand that you many of you want to make a statement, want to say no to a politics that is, in many ways, corrupt and undemocratic. Many of us who support Hillary share your frustration. We know, after our years in fighting for small victories, how hard it is to overcome the inertia and corruption of our politics. But we also know three other things.

First, we know that voting is not about making statements. It’s not about self-expression. It’s about making a collective choice with our fellow citizens. And we can’t make an ethical collective choice by ignoring what everyone else thinks and just voting for the person who is closest to our own views. There is no ethical vote that is not also a strategic vote. A vote for anyone but Hillary is a strategic choice to make Donald Trump president.

Second, we know that change is hard. That idealism is not about standing up for our ideal at every moment but about holding that ideal in our hearts and minds and expressing that ideal when we can, while also working strategically and patiently to move closer to it against the powerful opposition we face.

And third we also know something anyone contemplating a vote for Stein doesn’t seem to recognize: that things can get far worse. and that if Trump is elected they will get far worse, not just for the people can least afford it but for our whole representative democracy.

Democracy, even a flawed one like our own, is fragile. Trump in high office is a dagger aimed at the heart of our politics.

Trump is not just a generically bad Republican but an even more horrible prospect as president. He has little knowledge of public policy and most of what he thinks he knows is wrong. His thin skin and readiness to strike at others is evident. He seems to be, wittingly or unwittingly, an agent of a dangerous foreign power. He has violated and called for further violation most of the norms that enable democracy and freedom to survive. He has empowered the worst features in our politics–the racism and sexism and xenophobia and bigotry that is America at its worst. Many of you are young and don’t know how much worse that can be or how a popular political leader–and Trump is one among certain groups–can change our political culture and let loose and empower horrible forces. But there is no doubt that he can make our civil life even more awful and coarser and bigoted than it is today.

This election may not be close. We may not need your vote. But we can’t take any chances when the threat is so real. And we need to win a large a majority as possible as this might help to undermine all the horror that Trump represents.
This is not time for moral purity or for empty protests. We need your passion for making a better world. But we also need you to think strategically and sensibly.

Please, listen to those of us who have been in the trenches far longer than you. Listen to people who have proven in ten or twenty or in some case thirty and forty years of activism—activism that has made a difference in the lives of millions—that we care as deeply as you about making this country and this world a better place for everyone. Channel your passion in a strategic and sensible direction. Hold your nose if you have to. But vote for Hillary.

5 thoughts on “An activist friend takes one last shot

  1. I voted for Bernie. And I’ve already voted for Hillary, not even a second thought. No nose holding either.

  2. In other news, Mount Hope Cemetery, here in Rochester, New York will be be open tomorrow until the polls close at nine o’clock.

    So people (mostly women, but some men as well) can put their “I voted” stickers on the gravestone of Susan B. Anthony.

    Cemetery hours were announced extended by Mayor Lovely Warren.

    The second African-American mayor of Rochester.

    And the first woman mayor of Rochester.

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