People who refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton on principle may be able to ride out the storm of a Republican administration. Many of us can’t
Monday 7 March 2016
As it becomes ever more likely that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, a host of people have announced that they either won’t vote for Clinton, or won’t vote at all, if Bernie Sanders isn’t the candidate on the ballot. I believe there’s a self-righteousness about this that only people with a certain level of privilege can afford to have.
Among them is the author of the recent Huffington Post column, “The Problem With Hillary, Chez, Is I Don’t Vote Republican”. Radio show host Russ Belville wrote:
If Donald Trump wins the presidency over Hillary Clinton, it’s not the fault of people like me who won’t vote for Republicans. It’s the fault of the Democratic Party for nominating a Republican.
There’s a long list of policies that Belville and others argue keeps Clinton in step with Republicans. But anyone actually paying attention to the Democratic primary debates of this election season will have noticed that Clinton and Sanders agree on more issues than they disagree on, and that both their platforms are polar opposites to those the GOP candidates are promoting. Sanders has even pushed Clinton to the left on certain issues.
But like the people who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 in protest at Al Gore, Bernie-or-nobody voters are making a decision with implications that go far beyond their narrow frame of reference. To use Belville as sacrificial lamb, again:
We survived eight years of George W Bush, and though it did us a lot of harm and killed thousands of us, he didn’t appoint himself dictator and abolish the supreme court or anything crazy. Democracy continued.
Actually, had George W Bush never been elected, thousands of Americans would have never died in the Iraq war, not to mention many thousands more Iraqis. Then there is the matter of Hurricane Katrina, in which a natural disaster turned into a man-made catastrophe due to the incompetence of the Bush administration and their total lack of regard for the lives of poor black people in New Orleans.
Yes, affluent, mostly white progressives survived the last Republican regime, but those who literally cannot afford to act as piously as y’all suffered. I have critiqued the Obama administration, but to act as though he has not been an agent of change – and that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t do more good than Donald Trump – is to dance with delusion. Had many of these voters supported the Democrats in the non-presidential election years, Obama would’ve been able to promote an even more progressive agenda.
People who refuse to vote for a less-favored Democrat on principle are just punishing a second constituency unlikely to vote: those who know very little about the power they yield because they are so marginalized they feel their say doesn’t matter.