Something fragile and innocent died in me the other night as the NY Democratic Primary results came in. It hurt in a place I didn’t know existed, but the pain was real. I whispered a dream of what America could be, and while that dream hasn’t been obliterated, Senator Sanders taking the nomination is harder to conceptualize. That being said… “no”. Emphatically, “no!”. And no matter how much you try to scare me about the beast that knocks, and how it’s practical to vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election as she’s the lesser of two evils, my answer resists as “NO”. I’m not with her, more apropos, I am not voting for her.
I’ve awakened into a funhouse reality, where “Democrats” (at least I thought they were) now support a candidate that is ensconced in a record epitomizing all the things they despised and derided Republicans for only a few months ago. Money in politics, fracking, militaristic adventurism, a pro corporate / Wall Street agenda and supporting the Trans Pacific Partnership. Let’s also not forget the blank check support for a right wing government in Israel, in spite of what the U.S. State department details as unlawful killings, excessive force, torture, and discrimination against Palestinians. When did this become the Democratic platform!!? All of these establishment, “Progressive” Democratic politicians know full well Clinton will say whatever she has to in the primary to win the nomination – doesn’t matter. Party loyalty trumped their ideals and they bent their knees, bowed their heads, and fell in line; throwing their support for Secretary Clinton. I’ve got to be honest, I lost a little respect for a few of them.
To some degree, the lightning in a bottle that Senator Sanders has captured is a referendum on the short comings of the Obama administration. In 2008, candidate Obama ran on unbridled progressivism, summed up in the polished and catchy marketing slogan, “Hope” and “Change”. Four years later in the 2012 election, after the hope had given way to a reality of modest change, President Obama incentivized us to re-elect him with a beast at the door; Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney will repeal the affordable care act, take away medicare, social security, and kick your puppy while doing it. Vote Obama! And I did. If I’m being honest, it boiled down to three streams of thought. I didn’t want that particularly rancid batch of Republicans to de-legitimize the legitimacy and legacy of the first black president. I thought the second term would allow more freedom. And …I was also a little terrified of Mitt Romney. Well, I’m a lot terrified of Donald Trump. Same trick, but this time with the one electable choice thrusting the country further to the right. I am not playing this game anymore.
I vote for a party in as much as that party aligns with my values, and this new “Democratic” party , under Hillary Clinton, does not align with my values. Call it childish, call it impractical, call it whatever. There are bright moral red lines dealing with the blood on her hands from her role in Libya and Honduras. Let alone not learning from her abysmal Iraq vote that ended with the deaths of 500,000 innocent civilians, she wants to put U.S. troops into Syria. Hillary Clinton has already said her foreign policy will be more muscular than President Obama. Obama killed over 1147 innocent civilians trying to kill 43 people on his kill list. This is not just a policy discussion, those were real people: mothers, fathers, sons and daughters that had lives and were part of a community. Neo-liberalism’s disregard for civilian deaths is creating terrorists. Not out of some religious fervor, but out of credible resistance to our intrusion. I am not rubber stamping that.
Put it a different way. If you had a kid that threw a tantrum in the toy store, do you turn around and buy that kid a toy? For that matter, why is it U.S. policy to not negotiate with terrorists? It incentivizes bad behavior when the same stunt can be pulled in perpetuity. Regardless of the risk, for the greater good, there has to be political penalty for bad behavior and a betrayal of the base. It also has to be understood that a fear vote completely untethers the candidate from the priorities of the electorate that voted for them. Hillary Clinton has absolutely no incentive whatsoever to attend to the issues raised by Sanders when your vote is perfunctory due to the ever present specter of a beast on the other side.
Just under 30 years ago, the Democratic Party entered a Faustian bargain with Wall Street and corporate America. On one hand they believed they could take gobs of corporate money, while rhetorically keeping the image of being the party of the poor and middle class workers. This has proven to be a farce, and in some ways, neo-liberals are worse than conservatives. Bill Clinton decapitated the social safety net, “ending welfare as we know it”. Nearly 70% of the people thrown off the rolls were children. Bill Clinton destroyed Glass-Steagall and championed deregulation of Wall Street. Arguably, this lead to, at the very least it greatly exacerbated, the economic collapse in 2007. And let us not forget, it was Democratic President Bill Clinton that was going to join hands with Newt Gingrich to cut social security. Bush enacted massive tax cuts that funneled massive sums of money to the top 1%. There was a sunset clause on those tax cuts as he didn’t have the political power to make them permanent. Obama, however, made 82% of those tax cuts permanent, under the of political illusion of modestly raising taxes on the rich. Obama put cutting social security on the table. Obama expanded the drone killings and massively expanded domestic surveillance. To Obama’s credit he ended Bush’s torture program, but continued with the rendition program; steeling away suspects to countries that routinely torture their prisoners. Neo-liberals disarm opposition to right wing policies under an all too familiar notion of party loyalty.
So “no!”. I’m done! For moral reasons. For ethical reason. For environmental reasons. For economic reasons. For long term political reasons. Let it all burn as far as I’m concerned. Hillary Clinton gets my vote when she earns it, and she hasn’t earned it. I don’t care who is on the other side of the door.