Apparently, according to what I read, a sizable chunk (over %10) of Democratic voters will sit out the general election if Hillary Clinton is the nominee. Why, a while ago* I read a Huffington Post piece on why the author would rather let a Republican win the Presidency than elect Hillary. The reasons ranged from the Iraq War, to Clinton being too cozy with big business, to wanting “a Democrat in the White House … [not] a moderate Republican.**”
It was, obviously, written by a man. A white man at that. Before he sits it out, allowing President Trump (or God forbid, President Cruz) to take office, he needs to talk to some people:
He needs to talk to women of child-bearing age who will see their reproductive rights go from severely restricted in some parts of the country to non-existent, possibly everywhere. Reproductive rights are not something that can be put on hold until the country elects a suitably progressive President. Women’s lives are at risk.
He needs to talk to undocumented workers who face being torn away from their families and communities and sent back to Mexico. While many pundits I have heard (as well as Trump’s own opponents) have said that it will be impossible to round up and deport all of them, while that man is in office all of those families will live in fear.
He needs to talk to Muslims who will be under surveillance when they go to their mosques. He also needs to talk to Muslims with families abroad who won’t even be able to visit.
He needs to talk to people of color and ask just how safe they’ll feel under a President who had to think twice before he decided to repudiate the endorsement of the KKK, or for that matter, whom the KKK endorsed to begin with.
Although I can’t tell his sexual orientation from a picture, he needs to talk to people in the LGBTQ community about how they’ll feel under a president who has said he will get rid of marriage equality.
He needs to think about potential detainees at Guantanamo, subject to waterboarding “or worse.” He needs to think about the families threatened with death by a President perfectly willing to engage in war crimes.
He’s worried that Hillary is too hawkish? Agreed. But it’s nothing on what any of the Republican candidates will be like as President.
There is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. There may well be two more before the next four years is out. Whatever changes the next president makes to our country will last possibly for decades.
Don’t get me wrong: I am in no way suggesting that women (anyone else) have to support Hillary in the primaries. I was supporting Martin O’Malley, before he dropped out. Vote for Hillary, vote for Bernie. Great. But do not fall into the “a plague on both your houses” mindset that certain ideologically pure liberals have adopted. As was the case in 2000, the two potential nominees are nowhere near the same; as in 2000, claiming that unless you get everything you want you won’t participate is childish and selfish. It is also quite frankly ridiculous: Bernie and Hillary have voted alike over 90% of the time in the Senate.
Life is messy, politics even more so. Sometimes progress is one step forward, two steps back. Sometimes you make incremental changes: Bernie Sanders being in the race has already pushed the party to the left. Good.
You want to really change the party, and the country? Don’t start at the top. Elect progressive city council members and mayors. Elect progressive county commissioners. Elect progressive state legislators. Work your way up — representative, senator, governor. Play the long game. That’s the way the conservatives did it — and look how well it worked.
Yes, you will need to work to elect some interim presidents; presidents who do not share your values but who can be trusted not to set the country backwards. Because sometimes you can’t have the choice you want, and all you can do is pick the best option you can, and try again next time.
That’s what adults do.
*Admittedly, the piece was written before Scalia died. I am willing to entertain the notion that the writer may feel differently now. If that is the case, however, then he lacks sufficient forethought to be pontificating on politics at all: it has been clear for a while now that the next president would almost certainly be nominating at least one justice.
**I would like to point out that this is a textbook “no true Scotsman” fallacy.