“And there you all are tonight, glued to your TVs and your computers, your hearts swelled with pride because you belong to the strongest country on Earth, cheering on your Murderer President. Ignorant of the entire world’s repulsion. You kill and you kill and you kill, and still you remain proud. We are fools.” – Margot Kidder
Democrat and Republican leaders have always played Good Cop/Bad Cop. The first thing to note is when most political commentators advocate voting for the ‘lesser evil’, they rarely describe the lesser ‘evil’ but rather endow the ‘evil’ with numerous virtues. Find the positive things to praise; point out how scary the opponent is; find reasons to say that unlike the opponent a very rich powerful establishment figure is actually on the side of the common people and make sure not to mention the voting record that shows your candidate is against the common people.
We are admonished by the experts and pundits that politics is the art of the possible and to be reasonable in our expectations of those we elect, who all campaign on the impossible – reforming capitalism into a humane system that acts in the interests of the majority and not for the protection of the interests of the minority. The pragmatists tell us you have to have a seat at the table to enact real change but the real decisions are not made at the tables of government offices but in the board-rooms of the corporations and the floors of the stock-exchanges.
Sanders endorsed Hillary because the liberals had bound her to the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party – a hyperbolic claim, if there ever was one, although it is merely election promises. The rhetoric is still to be turned into deeds and we shall see, as with all manifesto pledges, they get quickly broken. Remember all those Obama promises of change?
Trump is a hypothetical threat. Clinton is a proven danger. The logic of the lesser evil ensures that each new election cycle will see both greater and lesser evils being more evil than the last time around. We might worry about what Trump might hypothetically do if he takes office, but we know what Clinton has done and it is still happening now. Supporting Clinton only strengthens the right-ward drift. Trump’s recent hint about “2nd amendment people” taking “action” against Clinton, will inspire an assassination, but let’s keep this in perspective: Trump may indeed inspire a lone nutcase, but Clinton fully supported the killing of foreign political leaders. Recall how Hilarity got that nickname: “We came, we saw, he died” as she chuckled over Gaddafi’s death. On the world stage some view Trump as the lesser evil and see Hillary Clinton is an undeniable war hawk and Trump as an advocate of détente. At the Democratic National Convention, a 4-star General marched out to a military drum-roll to proclaim Clinton’s credentials as a war leader and with a scowl announced for the world to heed: “To our enemies; we will pursue you as only America can. You will fear us!” Clinton has an undeniable track record of advocating, supporting, and committing international war crimes. As for Trump’s overt misogyny, have we so readily forgotten Bill Clinton’s behavior and Hillary Clinton “standing by her man” and most likely bringing him back into public office.
It is simply impossible to support either Clinton or Trump in good conscience. US voters are faced with a non-choice. Supporting Trump is an expression of hateful xenophobia or an act of delusional desperation, but supporting Clinton is a clear endorsement of neoliberal economics and American expansionism. Can anyone deny Clinton’s nationalistic and militaristic credentials? Clinton supported the invasion of Iraq, she initiated a war in Libya, provoked a devastating civil war in Syria and masterminded a coup in Honduras. The problem is that Hillary Clinton has spent her career poisoning the well so why should we take her word for anything.
A wasted vote is voting for somebody you don’t believe in. That’s a wasted vote. Vote for what you believe in – that’s how you bring about change. It is better to have the vote than not to have it. The workers in the Chartist movement were no fools in wanting their chance to determine who will rule. The wealthy who opposed votes for workers on the grounds that the working class is many and the property-owning rich parasites are few and therefore the many might end the social power of the few had a point. Sadly, the working- class franchise has not yet justified those fears of real democracy. The workers have been persuaded to play the game: bought off by reforms and conned by leaders, the potential power of the vote has been wasted in every single election.
The answer is not to abandon the vote and ignore elections, but to work to create a politically educated electorate of working men and women who understand where their interest lies. The battle, not just when the electoral whistle blows, but at all times, is to win workers’ minds; to make class-conscious workers. Such workers, currently only a small minority, will never waste their votes on electing leaders, nor will they support any policy designed to run the profit system which exploits and dominates them. Socialists enter into the electoral contest, using it as a means of putting our revolutionary case for socialism to the widest number of fellow workers.
“It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.” Eugene V. Debs