Tag Archives: Hillary

Jottings of Our “Interesting Times” Or, Existential Dread

September 15, 2016

Fantastic images I’ve seen today, the last of which was the sunset sky turning vivid orange over the islands to our west, half of the horizon almost aflame. Another amazing image: Raven’s Nest, the most dramatic gorges on the approach to Schoodic point, looking out at Cadillac Mountain.

Monday, November 7, 2016

From the near sublime to what a columnist referred to as dread.

I, too, have been obsessing about the election as have so many others.

It feels as if we could be approaching either some apocalyptic end time, or greater and greater freedom and even more of the changes we need. We are at a fateful turning point.

Britain, in angst, voted tor protest and woke up to realize they had destroyed their world, instead. They replaced it with something poorer and coarser. All the polls had assured Britons that Brexit would not be voted in; and then it was!

I admit I have been obsessing over events, issues, Trump’s inane declarations (have you noticed: his only competent sentences are declarative?), and finally, polls. I am a Bernie Democrat, and I will gladly vote for Hillary, considering the alternative, even though I’m not thrilled by some of her policies; I think she can be pressured to do the right things most of the time.

And Hillary will certainly attempt to promote positive change in gender relations, hopefully between white and minority groups and between ‘Americans’ and immigrants.

I’m a man, very hetero, but I try not to be sexist. I am my wife’s partner and I admire her for her wisdom, her writing and her deep beauty in herself. But I’m not perfect.

I’m also in sympathy with gender-bending. I like to cook and to do some of the cleaning. I also wear my own skirts, fashioned from worn-out pants, as well as Scottish kilts, on occasion. When it’s cold I’d prefer a monk’s robe to pants. I like to dress up more than my wife does. We neither of us wear make-up.

And yet, I enjoy manual labor. I’m getting too old to do as much as I used to: I brought in firewood for three houses from our own woods. Now, I might cut down a tree, cut it and split it, if I can transport it a few hundred feet uphill. I used to teach college, too.

I count myself as a skier, although last year I only skied once, because there was only enough snow one morning.

Which brings me to an even deeper reason why this election has wrought such anxiety: the climate is changing even more rapidly, and chaotically, than scientists’ worst predictions, while a significant part of our nation, and of our political class, believe climate change is a hoax and refuse to believe we should do anything to mitigate—well, if it’s a hoax, there’s no reason to do anything, is there?

The denial on the part of these elites seems transparently corrupt: fossil fuel companies pay their bills, especially their campaign bills. Denial among the angry white men following Trump? Denial may be an expression of anger over losing their primacy, may be a rejection of an active role for government: responding to climate change requires more government restraints or controls. It’s certainly thumbing noses at authority. “If the fuckin’ scientists say our trucks an’ stuff cause climate change, then fuck’em!”

Of course the corrupted elite benefit, when the angry white men follow their lead: fossil fuel companies reward them in every way they can.

So, not only are we poised on either, the end of democracy as we know it, or a future that could be a little better, we are poised between even more dramatic damage to the climate and accelerated attempts to lessen climate change. We have no time to lose.

How many times in the history of the world have people thought the end was coming? Sometimes it did, but we have never faced a problem so global, so potentially horrific as this one, when we are tipped on edge, not knowing which way we will fall.

I hope for the best, others fear for the worst, but we are none of us prepared if the worst does come to pass.

It’s Not Who You Vote For It’s Who Wins That Matters

“But I love Bernie! He’s the first politician I’ve ever…”

I did not cry, when Bernie endorsed Hillary. I had worked for him, donated money, time, letters to the Editor, but when he endorsed Hillary, I agreed with him. To me, he wasn’t giving up; he wasn’t selling out; he was acting strategically. He saw that he could not win the nomination, although he had come tantalizingly close, and had mobilized a significant segment of the potential Democratic Party’s constituency.

Yes, obstacles were put there by the DNC and state Democratic parties; there was a conscious attempt by some in the DNC to diminish Bernie’s appeal in any way they could. But it’s probable Bernie still would not have won even without these sub rosa efforts. He couldn’t mobilize Black, Asian and Latino voters, or even Whites with less than a college education: the latter are Trump’s special constituency. He knew that. He’d tried, with BlackLivesMatter, and with other outreach efforts.

So, Bernie wasn’t selling out; he was acting strategically: when he stopped campaigning, did not endorse, but negotiated with Hillary. They both compromised; that’s the nature of politics that works. After he’d gotten what he could get—for all of us—he endorsed her.

Bernie has also stated over and over again, that Trump must be stopped, and he’ll do everything in his power to prevent his election. Why?

It’s not because he’s sold out; it’s because he’s gotten considerable concessions from Hillary, and they hold a lot of views in common to begin with, like their view of Supreme Court nominations. What he’s modeling is what you do in strategic voting.

The difference between strategic voting and ideological voting is in what each accomplishes. More narrowly, issues voting means you vote only for particular policies. The extreme example is the anti-abortion voter, who will only vote for a candidate who is explicitly anti-abortion, the more obdurate the better. If feelings are intense enough, issue voting may actually result in legislation and policy, but usually it’s never enough for the true believer—on whatever issue—and it only has impact on that issue.

Broader than issue voting is ideological voting. This is voting for a candidate who best exemplifies the voter’s ideological preferences, even if the candidate has no chance of winning office, and therefore no chance of putting that ideology into legislation and actual practice.

Ideological voting best describes the Bernie voter who gravitates to the Green Party’s Jill Stein, or the libertarian Republican supporter of Rand Paul, who supports Gary Johnson.

In a winner-take-all electoral system, which is what the US has had since its founding, and what our neighbor, Canada, to the North has as well, both issue and ideological voting can have paradoxical effects. In a winner-take-all political system, a plurality (not a majority), wins the election. In Canada’s case, for two separate elections, voters on the left split their votes between the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, and Parti Quebecois. While the left was in a clear majority, it lost, heavily, to Steven Harper, Conservative, who was funded by the oil industry in Alberta. So, all Canada’s support for combatting climate change was thrown out the window; government encouraged Tar Sands oil production, while social programs were radically defunded: the electoral structure permitted a minority to elect a large majority in Parliament. After two terms, the Conservatives were thrown out by a more unified left, behind the moderately leftward Liberal party. They had discovered how horrible it was to have a radical right-wing government.

The same thing can happen here. If the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is close (still a real possibility), ideological votes for Stein and Johnson could be the deciding factor: not in one of the latter winning, (there’s no chance of that) but in the triumph of the Democrat or Republican candidate who loses the fewest votes to the third party candidate to his or her left or right.

In other words, if Jill Stein were able to attract a larger slice of former Bernie voters than Gary Johnson gained from disaffected Republican voters, it would become increasingly difficult for Democrats to win.

I suspect that Johnson also attracts issue-voting millennials, with his legalize marijuana position; many of these were former Bernie voters. His polling at twice the level of Stein, may in part be because of this, so he takes votes away from both Trump and Hillary.

The paradoxical effect of Bernie Sanders mobilizing young, left-wing voters, increasing the size of the left-leaning constituency (from left of center to far left) could permit Trump to win, if too many of these newly mobilized voters end up voting for Stein or Johnson: a minority, voting for Trump, could prevail over a left of center majority that is split into two or three parts.

Now, think of the consequences: instead of Bernie in the Senate being joined by a President and Congress that supports much of his agenda, and is likely to be responsive to pressure brought to bear by groups like Our Revolution and BlackLivesMatter, instead, Trump would be President.

Would Trump and the triumphant Republicans give credence to any left-wing group? Of course not. Bernie endorsed Hillary for a reason: her election would be the best chance to carry out much of his (and our) agenda in the next four years. With a Republican White House and Congress, we would get a Supreme Court that overthrew Roe v Wade and permitted even more voter suppression; the US would be ramping up of coal mining and oil drilling, not mitigating global warming; there would be an increase in racist policies at all levels, and rejection of virtually every policy that Bernie and his supporters advocated: instead of a public option for healthcare, you’d have a return to the monopoly-controlled market and rejection of even the minimal reform represented by Obamacare.

Strategic voting for a Bernie supporter, instead, would be: to vote for Democrats, however flawed they may be, because this would accomplish two things: it would prevent what could amount to a Fascist takeover, much like the minority Nazis taking over the German government in the face of a divided left and center, and it would increase pressure for the kinds of changes we (Berniers) all want.

Besides: if you love Bernie, strategic voting is clearly what he advocates, even despite the corruption of the Democratic Party by the likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Further Bernie activists can do what Kelleigh McKenzie, co-founder of Ulster4Bernie, is attempting in Ulster County: to gain election to the NY State Democratic Committee, so she can help bend the party in a progressive direction. She appears to say: if you don’t like the Democratic Party, work on changing it.

That’s strategic thinking.