The Four Reasons Pragmatic Progressives are Supporting Jill Stein
Voters seek alternatives to the ‘choice’ between Trump and Clinton.
It’s early October, and the usual suspects in the corporate media are bellowing hyperbole about the supposed “craziness” of supporting anyone other than the two most disliked presidential candidates in history.
Why might the Paul Krugmans, Ezra Kleins, and Charles Blows of the corporate media world be veering into shriller and shriller tones?
Most likely because both practical and idealistic voters are increasingly supporting Jill Stein, and one of the jobs of the corporate media is to prop up the corporate parties. When someone doesn’t listen to you and you don’t have reason on your side, you often raise your voice.
The truth is, there are dozens of reasons not to support Trump or Clinton, ranging from the way Clinton issues dangerous military threats about Russia, Syria, and Iran; to the way Trump brashly scapegoats Muslims and immigrants; to the uncomfortable sense that the Trumps and Clintons are actually longtime friends and attend each other’s events and donate to each other. Idealists could probably list one hundred reasons to avoid these candidates.
I attended Jill Stein’s energetic event in Oakland last night, and instead of talking to the idealists, I asked the pragmatists there why they were supporting Stein.
Here is what I gathered, the four main reasons pragmatic progressives are supporting Jill Stein:
- The Electoral College. It actually doesn’t matter who you vote for if you live in any of the 41 states that aren’t contested for the presidency. Such is the system we use to elect the president that
voters in the vast majority of the country aren’t counted anyway.Most states already heavily support one of the corporate parties, and in order to determine the president, votes aren’t counted, only states. For instance, your vote won’t in any practical sense count to determine the president if you live in CA, NY, TX, OR, WA, NJ, MA, any states in the south, or any of the entire Western half of the country except for CO and NV. If you want your vote to count for something in these states, the pragmatic thing to do is to vote for the candidate who truly represents your views, since you’re not actually electing a candidate. Your vote is sending a message, nothing more.
- The Immediate Crucial Issues. “Not one more black life taken by police,” Jill Stein said yesterday in Oakland, to immense applause. This issue of racist law enforcement is something we need to send a message about right now. The other candidates don’t care about this issue, and don’t care about so many other crucial issues. We can’t just stamp our approval on a corporate candidate who is silent on today’s crucial issues, say pragmatic progressives. The awful Dakota Access pipeline is at stake today; for-profit prisons are entrenching virtual slavery today; corrupt weapons deals are arming terrorists today; the earth’s atmosphere went over 400ppm of carbon dioxide this month — there are too many huge issues right now that need our voice. If you believe in the actual functioning of democracy, the most practical thing you can do is to use your one sacred vote to communicate to your representatives what you see as most important.
- The Necessity of a New Party. The DNC rigged the primary on the Democratic side, and apparently they’re getting away with it. Despite leaked emails, proven media collusion, outright fraud, and electoral ‘irregularities’ in dozens of states, nothing has happened. To get out of one of several lawsuits, the DNC shockingly argued that everyone already knew they were biased against Bernie Sanders from the start, thus admitting manipulation. Having rigged this one, there is zero reason to believe the DNC won’t rig future primaries or elections, or do whatever else they need to do to defeat progressives and install corporate candidates in power. The DNC runs the Democratic Party, so to vote Democratic at this time is to stamp our approval on the subversion of democracy itself. It’s time to build a new party, say pragmatic progressives. The Green Party isn’t perfect, but it’s growing into something good, and it’s certainly the best of the options available. If we can’t win this year, at least we can win 5% of the vote, which will legally secure financial and ballot status for the party for future elections.
- The Track Record of ‘Lesser Evilism.’ The idea of voting for the “lesser of evils” that is promoted by the punditocracy in the New York Times and other corporate media outlets is supposedly to avoid certain bad things. We’re supposed to tolerate somewhat bad things to avoid very bad things. Does this work? Well, there’s a track record on this now. Since 1992, the corporate media and some well-meaning friends have been yelling at idealistic and pragmatic progressives to vote for “lesser evils” in order to avoid things — to avoid endless wars in the Middle East, to avoid corrupt corporate lawyers writing legislation, to avoid giant taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street, to avoid massive domestic spying and the renewal of the Patriot Act, to avoid inaction on Climate Change, to avoid Wall Street fraud, to avoid the militarization of the police, to avoid growing income inequality, to avoid more people slipping into poverty, and much more. The problem is, the track record of doing this shows that we’ve actually gotten nearly everything we feared. The bad things we were supposed to be avoiding have come to pass. The track record speaks for itself. At a certain point, if the team keeps losing, you have to bench the quarterback, even if the backup doesn’t have much experience. We have to free ourselves from this two-party prison that is sliding to the right, impoverishing our country, destroying the planet, and setting us on a crash course for more wars, more terrorism, and more refugee crises.
Those are the four main reasons pragmatic progressives are supporting Jill Stein and rejecting the media’s shrill cries to get on board with the corporate candidates.
The core problem progressives have with supporting Donald Trump is that, while he might “shake the system up” (best case scenario), he’s a racist egotistical bully and is likely to exacerbate racism and jingoism and make countless awful decisions.
The problem with supporting Hillary Clinton is that, while she might do one or two slightly progressive things (best case scenario), she’s a corrupt, dishonest warmonger who has benefited from fraud and said nothing about it. She’s funded her campaign entirely from corporate cash, so despite what she says, she’s likely to implement TPP or something similar to finalize the corporate takeover of our public government and military.
To many progressives, both of these corporate candidates are atrocious and unacceptable, there are no good reasons to vote for them, and supporting Stein is obvious. On the other hand, some progressives will vote for Clinton, persuaded by this “lesser evil” strategy. Others will actually vote for Trump, refusing to approve of the DNC’s corrupt leadership. The reality is that under either of the corporate candidates, the planet and our democracy will suffer. Who really wants war with Russia, Syria, or Iran? Who really wants corporate boards to be able to legally overrule Congress? Please raise your hand.
What the pragmatic progressives I spoke with are doing is calling out the truth on these problems, and taking logical and practical steps to solve them — including voting. If we are to confront runaway climate change, institutional racism, endemic corruption, and election fraud, and create a better political system, there is no more time to wait.
If you believe in progressive ideas, particularly if you live in one of the 41 states disenfranchised in this presidential election, you too might be a pragmatic progressive supporting Jill Stein.
You might just need to grab a pair of earplugs if you read the corporate media.