Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Take on This Year's Election -- President, guest blogging:

I come from a long line of inadequately paid, hard-working, conservative folks in southwestern Virgina. Trump Country. And for a while I understood his attraction for them. He promised to get rid of the trade deals that many (including me) believe make for slave labor and slave wages. He promised not to mess with Social Security and Medicare. He supported Planned Parenthood (he's since "un-evolved" on that), and he wanted to run some bankers out of town. He promised to shake up the system.

I am a Bernie Democrat. Hillary Clinton is in my opinion far afield of anything close to a perfect candidate. For one thing, poetry's just not her thing and that sucks and it hurts her on the campaign trail too. The email server decision was dumb as hell, at best. She is prone to secrecy. She supported the war in Iraq and is hawkish, believing, it seems, that America needs to police the world. She supports fracking, for Pete's sake. And she's not a revolutionary (sigh). Clinton triangulates and compromises too much for me. I don't like her ties to Wall Street and corporate CEOs, and I don't trust her on trade or financial regulation.

But I do trust her on overturning Citizens United, pushing through debt-free college; a path to citizenship for immigrants; paid family leave; big investment in jobs; very progressive appointments to the Supreme Court; inclusion of more women and minorities in her administration; championing the rights of women and children; fighting for civil rights; addressing climate change; criminal-justice reform; LGBTQ rights; the expansion of Social Security, a public option for Obamacare (the single best way to force down insurance costs for everyone), and a hike in the minimum wage.

Besides, folks, the real Donald J. Trump is for the same things I fault Clinton for and is a certifiable nutjob with (or maybe without, who knows?) money to boot.

Trump is an authoritarian and a con man. He makes up things (sometimes just for the hell of it), and he encourages violence and fear. He is completely unqualified for public office. He is opposed to basic justice for anyone but himself, and he is selfish and a sleaze. He is incoherent on important issues like defense and trade. He is a misogynist, a xenophobe, a racist, and a sexual predator. He's a hypocrite.

I am still very concerned about Clinton, but, let's face it, she's not running against Bernie anymore. And, while I provide profiles below of both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, I'm voting for Clinton because, bottom line, either she or Trump is going to end up in the White House, and I'm gonna make the most of the field I'm forced to play on.

Besides, I'm getting a little long in the tooth.

I don't want to spend the next four years trying to keep bad crap from happening. I want to spend the next four years trying to make progress. I don't want to spend my time trying to keep Trump from dumping millions of newly insured people off Obamacare. I don't want to spend my time trying to keep Trump from deporting five million immigrants (at least!) or forcing them to inform on their neighbors.

I don't want to spend the next four years having to fight a national stop and frisk program. I'd rather spend my time considering legit proposals that will stop the violence between minorities and community police. I don't want to spend my time fighting against yet another huge corporate tax cut. I want to spend the next four years pushing for a minimum wage and for making the very rich, like Trump, pay their fair share for building roads, and bridges, and schools, and community care clinics (and pay their taxes too).

I don't want to spend the next four years having to fight back against violations of basic human rights and decency, and respect: voter rights, abortion rights, equal pay for equal work, gay rights, and dealing with the neanderthals who insist climate change isn't real. I don't want to spend my next four years having to fight against hate and greed.

I don't want to spend the next four years freaking out about WTF/OMG does this mean: Trump has said, “We’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable."

Besides, I'm sure I'm not the only woman sick to death of men who say they "cherish women" and then go about the business of groping and assaulting us on airplanes and then bragging about it to their buddies -- in the locker room or anywhere else for that matter.

And most of all, I don't want to spend the rest of my life having to live with the inevitable devastating decisions of a right-wing Supreme Court. As noted over at FiveThirtyEight by Oliver Roeder, who simulated 10,000 hypothetical future courts under a President Trump and a President Clinton:

“If Donald Trump is elected president, the Supreme Court may, seat by vacated seat, will move rightward toward its most conservative position in recent memory. If Hillary Clinton is elected, the court may quickly become the most liberal it’s been in at least 80 years.”

Now of course it's up to us to force her to put what is the most progressive platform in the modern history of the Democratic Party into action. As Sanders put it recently: “I’m not going to sit here and say to you that Hillary Clinton is going to be great on all these issues with absolute confidence…. I’m saying that on many, many issues, her views are progressive. In many areas, they are awesome. Where they’re not progressive, we’ve got to push her."

So, it's a fact. Clinton's not progressive enough for me and many other Bernie Sanders' supporters. But I'm old enough to remind my fellow progressive activists to consider the fact that we don't think she's progressive enough has as much to do with how we have managed to push our politics leftward as it does with a rightward drift by her. And that's a good thing. And that's what I'm willing to work with because that's where we are.

Gary Johnson (Libertarian): and Gary Johnson President 2016 on Facebook

Johnson is the former Republican governor of New Mexico. I have to confess that I have a soft spot for Gary Johnson (just like my other favorite Libertarian, Sean Haugh, running for US Senate). I find myself agreeing with some of his policy positions (civil liberties and Internet freedom, for example), and I also like his demeanor (in a presidential year when candidate demeanor went completely rogue!)

Johnson supports abortion rights, gay marriage, and supports the legalization of marijuana, and he believes that the federal government should keep its nose out of these issues, but when it comes to state and local governments, Johnson believes their ability to restrict all of these rights is fair game. Johnson has some other policy positions that negate my support for him: wants to cut Medicare and Medicaid, wants to eliminate taxes for corporations, favors Charter schools over public schools, opposes any laws regulating gun ownership, and supports "Citizens United and no limits on corporacandidates." Johnson opposes government protections of civil rights, government regulations of financial institutions, and government policies to preserve the environment.

Jill Stein (Green--Write In): and Dr Jill Stein on Facebook

If you write in Jill Stein's name on your ballot under the Presidential race, your vote will be counted.

Stein has a medical degree from Harvard but has only been elected to one position: representative to the town meeting of Lexington, Massachusetts. Wanting to vote for a candidate rather than merely against one is obviously where we all want to be. Me included. I agree with Stein's opposition to fracking, her assertion that Obamacare isn't good enough, and her support for a single payer system, among other things.

Some of my progressive friends argue I should write her name in for this election because "she's not Hillary Clinton." But I prefer building authentic grassroots alternatives, instead of the Green Party's top-down vehicle for protest.

Besides, rather than articulating a compelling progressive vision for America, Stein is all about conspiracy theories. She seems to me at times to traffic in fear and paranoia, like her opposition to vaccines and her belief that WiFi is potentially dangerous. Stein believes that Trump and Clinton are equally bad. It may disappoint some of my more progressive readers, but I do not. Clinton doesn't get it for me on issues like fracking, trade and war, but Trump is a misogynist, racist, xenophobic billionaire with poor impulse control.

I agree with Noam Chomsky, a Stein supporter:

"In a swing state – a state where it's going to matter which way you vote – I would vote against Trump, and by elementary arithmetic, that means you hold your nose and you vote Democrat," he said. "I don't think there's any other rational choice. Abstaining from voting or, say, voting for ... a candidate you prefer, a minority candidate, just amounts to a vote for Donald Trump, which I think is a devastating prospect."

The bottom line is that the Green party is only on the ballot in 39 states and the District of Columbia. In North Carolina Stein is a write-in candidate, and North Carolina is in a position to make or break Trump's march to the White House this year. We don't cast our ballots in a vacuum, simply accepting or rejecting a single candidate. We have choices and the ones we make have consequences.

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