You don’t like Hillary Clinton.
You think she’s corrupt. You don’t think she’s a progressive, and you see her as the face of the corporate wing of the democratic party. She’s part of the Establishment and will only preserve the status quo.
You cannot, you say, vote for her in good conscience.
So you will instead vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson – third party candidates who don’t stand a chance of winning – or perhaps even Donald Trump. He’s not part of the Establishment, after all, and if he’s a disaster – well, great! Perhaps a calamitous four years will be just the kick we need to bring about The Revolution.
In another cycle, I’d be fine with you. I’d disagree – I’d think you were maybe wasting your vote and maybe argue that progress is slow, and that I believe it is happening even if it doesn’t always seem like it at the time – but I’d say, Fine. Go for it. The two party system sucks, both parties are corrupt, and your inextinguishable idealism and your push for change would be commendable.
But this is different.
This is not Dubya running us into two endless wars guns a-blazing, twiddling his thumbs as a major American city drowned in dirty hurricane waters, and funneling all the money in this country to the rich – bad as that all was. This is not McCain with his militarism or Romney with his binders full of women and disdain for the “47 percent” – bad as that all would have been. This is not Obama’s drone warfare and it’s not Hillary’s hawkish neo-liberalism and pricy speaking fees.
This is Donald Trump, the most uniquely unqualified major ticket candidate of the contemporary era – and perhaps in this nation’s history. A man who has made mainstream a strain of bigotry, misogyny, and nationalism long dormant in American politics. A man who has promoted violence against political enemies. A man who has called on a foreign government – one that routinely violates human rights – to spy on his opponent. A liar who would limit freedom of the press. A reckless psychopath who has proposed war crimes as part of his foreign policy. A man accused by his ex-wife of committing rape and who has defended both a sexual abuser (Roger Ailes) and an enabler of systematic child molestation (Joe Paterno). This is not a critique of his political positions, as it has been for past candidates -- he HAS NO political positions beyond the accumulation of power. That he doesn’t have even an elementary understanding of any of the issues is almost beside the point.
Not long ago, the libertarian commentator P.J. O’Rourke said on Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me! that he was endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. “She’s wrong about absolutely everything,” the pundit said. “But she’s wrong within the normal parameters.”
This is the best summation of the difference between Trump and every other candidate, and it’s what should inform your vote, Bernie-or-Buster. For whether you like it or not, the two party system isn’t going anywhere between now and November, and the president is either going to be Hillary Clinton – a reasonable center-left democrat who’d be our first female commander-in-chief – or Donald Trump – a fascist reality TV star.
If you can’t see the difference between the two, perhaps you need to get a new eyeglass prescription.
It may seem ugly, and it may be a bummer to have to choose between what you regard as two evils. It may suck to vote your conscience and then have some dickhead (me) tell you that vote was a waste, that it was selfish, that it was short-sighted. But none of that shit changes that reality of now.
Don’t like that reality? Fine. Fight to change it. I’ll fight alongside you.
In November. After the election.
But for now, if you want to save the world, start by using every ounce of your energy to stop Donald J. Trump from becoming the 45th President of the United States of America.