I have been holding my tongue in this primary season, not wanting to get into the social media name-calling frenzy. But I can’t do it anymore.
Many of my friends were attracted to the Bernie Sanders run because he voiced ideals that have been missing from public dialogue: corporate oligarchy needs to be eliminated; we should have a government that is inclusive and caring; we should stop invading other nations; we should put our efforts into a compassionate society, not one that rewards venality and aggression. I have long eschewed party politics because it didn’t address any of these issues, but I was drawn to the Sanders campaign because he was saying things in a public forum that I have rarely heard.
Now, many of those same friends are saying that we should suck it up and vote for Hillary Clinton. They say it’s realistic, that she’s not so bad (somehow, she’s improved a lot since a year ago), that putting our weight behind her is an adult act. Sorry, I still call it capitulation.
We have always had our political bogeymen. In 1980, the sky was going to fall if Ronald Reagan was elected. And, yes, his presidency was god-awful. He was an international embarrassment. His policies were harmful and regressive and we would have no doubt been better off without that administration.
But was it Ronald Reagan whose policies de-regulated the banks? Who signed the bill repealing the Glass-Stiegall Act, opening the doors for the rich the loot the middle class at will? Who championed the NAFTA and GATT agreements that allowed corporations to move hundreds of thousands of jobs out of the US – rewarded them for doing that, actually? Who ordered the bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory as a proxy retaliation for a planned attack on G. H. W. Bush?
Then there was George W. And, yes, he was a catastrophe. Other than waking up from his naps occasionally to start another war, his two terms were an eight-year vacation at the taxpayers’ expense. He, too, was an international embarrassment and his casual dismissal of the needs of most Americans as ‘special interests’ was nothing short of disgusting.
But was it Bush who maintained the most opaque administration in US history – classifying more documents than all of his predecessors combined? Who viciously persecuted anyone who took action to expand the public’s right to know what their government was up to. Who took upon himself the right to assassinate anyone in the world with drone weapons – and had a legal document drafted to proclaim that he had no obligation to bow to due process or public oversight? Who promised universal health care, but delivered a denser bureaucratic mess and legally obligated all Americans to patronize private insurance companies?
Being a Democrat does not make you a kinder, more compassionate public figure, but does lend you that image. I do believe a Trump presidency would be calamitous. I believe the same about a Hillary Clinton presidency. Yay, she’s a woman and all – so was Margaret Thatcher. I’m no fan of hers, either.
I think that if we really want change in this system, to remove ourselves from the control of the CEOs who tell the government what to do, we need to reject the Republican-Democrat model. That we need to suck it up and stop reacting to the threat of a horrible presidency. That we need to stop wasting our votes on those who do not deserve them and find the people, like Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein, who are voicing concerns that we share, who are actually concerned about public welfare and not pleasing those who can give them the most money – and have backed that concern up with effective action. Only when the nation has refused to give a mandate to those who are sucking the life from us can we start to move forward.
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