For a detailed, excellent analysis, see Everything mattered: lessons from 2016’s bizarre presidential election</>
(Originally published in August, 2016 as “Hot August Political Thoughts”)
There is absolutely no moral, social, or political equivalency between voting for Donald Trump or voting for Hillary Clinton. Nada. Zilch. None.
I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Far from it. She is a product of and the embodiment of the Oligarchy. Let me be blunt: She and her Husband have received over $200 million of influence and access payments masquerading as speaking fees and control a massive self-promotion vehicle supported by $Billions that represents itself as a charitable foundation but spends the vast percentage of its budget on administrative overhead and promoting the Clintons.
Clinton is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican who will extend the control of the Oligarchy over economic policies for four years and will have to be constantly thwarted by an engaged electorate to prevent us from entering into further needless wars. Progressives will have to push, cajole, embarrass, and hem in Clinton – a hard but manageable task – to minimize negative impacts on the working class and our shrinking middle class. It will be a difficult four years with many suffering but the nation and the planet will survive.
Trump is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. It is clear his decision-making in matters of virtually any policy topic is irrational, ego driven, and inconsistent. If he ran our economy like he ran his businesses, he would start a trade war, a Second Great Depression, and quite possibly a third World War. His instability, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia would be a cataclysmically divisive force likely not seen in our nation since our Civil War 150 years ago and potentially result in America becoming a pariah nation. His Climate Change Denial will push us to the edge of environmental extinction.
The best we can hope for if Donald Trump is elected is a quick impeachment and removal. Unfortunately, if Trump were removed from office, he’d be replaced by one of the most rightwing politicians in America – Mike Pence (Planned Parenthood rating of 0%, NARAL Pro-Choice America 0%, National Farmers Union 11%, Sierra Club 0%, American Library Association 0%, National Association of Manufacturers 100%, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 0%, Human Right Campaign 0%, Americans for Democratic Action 0%, ACLU 0%, NAACP 5%, American Conservative Union Lifetime Score 99%, Alliance for Retired Americans Lifetime Score 3%, League of Conservation Voter Lifetime Score 4%, American Wilderness Coalition 0%, American Association of University Women 0%, AFL-CIO Lifetime Score 5%, AFSCME Lifetime Score 2%, Source: VoteSmart.org).
At the worse, we could see an attempted or successful Military Coup or the Start of World War Three. There is no way Donald Trump should have access to nuclear launch codes. Seriously.
Hillary Clinton is a temporary barrier to Progressives defeating the American Oligarchy. Donald Trump is an immediate existential threat to the survival of our nation and planet. They are not equivalent.
The 1956 Republican national platform was a progressive document.
“We are proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs—expansion of social security—broadened coverage in unemployment insurance —improved housing—and better health protection for all our people. We are determined that our government remain warmly responsive to the urgent social and economic problems of our people. ”
“We shall continue to seek extension and perfection of a sound social security system. ”
“We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment providing equal rights for men and women.”
“In that concept, this Republican Administration sponsored the Refugee Relief Act to provide asylum for thousands of refugees, expellees and displaced persons, and undertook in the face of Democrat opposition to correct the inequities in existing law and to bring our immigration policies in line with the dynamic needs of the country and principles of equity and justice. ”
“The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.”
The neoliberals [ We elected them, remember? ] and neocons created an unholy matrimony. We let the globalized corporate camel’s nose under the tent and now folks are worried about Trump’s business being a conflict of interest.
As I use “we” here, I am reflecting and including myself as part of a people that acted as a bystander rather than an upstander over the years of my life. My own activism has been off and on. I realize that I cannot do it all, even now. I also realize that we need to create a friendly space for people to join in activism at the level of commitment they have to offer. We need to accept activists at their current zone of proximal development. There is more than enough work to do for everyone and all talents are needed in this work.
And now we suddenly worry about more because of Trump. Suddenly many are worried about white nationalism. It has been part of this country since our inception. Yet white nationalism has never stopped. And there are many of us who ignored the constructs of racism gripping our country. Racism continues to allow the murder of innocent Native Americans, blacks, and Latinos.
We’ve allowed deregulation and privatization to take root. We allowed Citizens United. We bailed out the banks and Wall Street. Some of us fought these things in the streets. Some of us showed apathy.
We allowed ourselves to be seduced by the propaganda of consumerism. Think about #BlackFriday.
We allow our current neoliberal president to protect bankers and big oil while he militarized the police who use violence against peaceful water protectors.
We allowed jobs to be outsourced and unions to be disempowered. Our current neoliberal president and most of the country stood by while his former Chief of Staff closed 50 public schools in poor black and brown neighborhoods to privatize them, while he fired 1,000s of educators to replace them with 5 week trained corporate TFA players.
Our current neoiberal president stood by while the former secretary of education, Arne Duncan claimed that “Katrina was the best thing that ever happened to New Orleans”. Most of the country stood by while people suffered, died, and virtually all public schools in New Orleans were privatized virtually overnight.
We stood by while Gov Snyder poisoned the water of Flint, Michigan and allowed Betsy DeVos, Nestle, the water companies, and the water profiteers to take the money of the victims.
Most of us stood by while all three branches of our government were sold out to corporate power. Most of us stood by while black and brown votes were disenfranchised by redistricting and voter suppression.
We allow our current neoliberal president to engage in permanent war while privatizing agencies like Blackwater to be our mercenaries.
We stood by and allowed Disaster Capitalism to flourish.
By voting for the lesser of 2 evils in a 2 party system for years now, we paved the way to authoritarian white nationalism / NeoNazism and nepotism.
Kudos to those who have been awake and actively organizing this entire time. We may be weary, but we have to create space in our lives to build bridges with all other activists – the civil rights movement – climate justice movement – immigration rights movement – #BlackLivesMatter – #NoDAPL – #IdleNoMore – public ed activists – unionists – Fight for $15 – Anti-war movement – all of us need to work together – organize as allies.
It will take a general strike to end corporate power. Or a very ugly revolt. Or both. The French succeeded in overthrowing their government in 2+ weeks in 1968. De Gaulle fled the country. Workers could’ve done better with their negotiations, but in the end they won much. Trump and the GOP aren’t going to be champions for the middle class. Kudos to some of the conservative GOP who are already disagreeing with some of Trump’s decisions. But will you join us to fight? Wall Street and white nationalists are still in charge. Will you organize against racism?
Are you awake yet? Or will the apathy continue? How will we organize? When? Where? Will you make time in your life to take a stand and organize yet? I am ready.
The Democrats would have done much better in the 2016 elections, I bet, had they supported a grand compromise: reasonable restrictions on late term abortions, in exchange, say, for reasonable restrictions on gun rights or guaranteed health care for children.
Conservatives like to use purported examples of late term abortions to illustrate the immorality of abortion. But such abortions are extremely rare.
Data for other countries are similar.
Only four doctors openly perform late-term abortions in the U.S.
Because late term abortions are so rare, abortion rights supporters should be willing to accept restrictions on such abortions, provided there are exceptions for the health of the mother and for rape and incest.
Indeed, in 2013 the House of Representatives passed a bill to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest, and where the health of the woman is endangered. The Senate refused to consider the legislation and President Obama said he’d veto it.
One can quibble on whether 20 weeks was the correct cutoff — 24 weeks might be more reasonable — but it sure seems that compromising on this issue would be a reasonable choice, given all the other issues and seats that are at stake in elections.
I’ve spoken to conservatives who say they’d gladly vote for Democrats but for this one issue: abortion.
In Why Abortion isn’t Murder I argued at length that until the embryo has a highly developed nervous system, there’s “nobody home” and so abortion is not the destruction of a person. When I showed this article to some abortion rights activists, they were skeptical. They were uncomfortable with an argument based on consciousness because, they rightly saw, it logically leads to a position in which there are restrictions on late term abortions. Abortion rights activists prefer an argument based on privacy rights: a woman should have absolute control over her own body.
According to a 2012 Gallup poll, only 14% of respondents think that third-trimester abortions should be legal.
Reasonable restrictions on abortions are similar to reasonable restrictions on guns: people who are not fervent partisans are left scratching their heads, wondering why such restrictions can’t be enacted.
What are the risks for Democrats of compromising on this issue? First, the haggling over the cutoff date — 24 weeks? 20 weeks? 16 weeks? — could be ugly. Second, it’s unclear how many votes it would win. Third, conservatives may use the compromise as an excuse for demanding tighter restrictions on abortions.
Perhaps some of my feminist friends will be upset with me because of this stance.
But face the facts. Trump won. Republicans control the House, the Senate, and a majority of legislatures and governerships. Soon they will control the Supreme Court. Politics requires compromise. For tens of millions of Americans, abortion is a moral outrage. Late term abortions are rare. Reasonable restrictions on late term abortions are a worthwhile compromise, if that’s what it takes to avoid GOP control of all levels of government.
Too late now.