An open letter to progressives and independents concerning the nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton:
It’s time to fall in line.
A lot of you, particularly those of you who know me, are understandably shocked and outraged to get that message from me. But I need you to sit down, set aside your feelings, and hear me out.
You’re angry. I know, because I’m angry. This election more than any other in modern history has shown that the political system in the United States is corrupt to the core. The parties are two sides of the same coin, one bad for our nation and the other disastrous. The absolute insanity of the right has enabled the elite, the haves, the corporate overlords, to get whatever policy they want passed. Clinton is their candidate. So is Trump. To them, it doesn’t really matter who gets elected because they’ll get what they want regardless.
This is how our political landscape has functioned for the last 50 years, and it sucks. For the first time in a generation we had a real progressive candidate run for president, and he just about won. That’s a big deal. But, he lost. He lost because it wasn’t fair. He lost because Clinton is a wily political player who will do anything to win. He lost because at this point in history, a lot of social issues democrats weren’t going to vote for an old white guy when a woman was running. It’s possible to commit no mistakes and still lose – Sanders is right on a lot of issues. He’s a lot more genuine than Clinton on almost every issue. But the party has spoken and now we’re left with choice of Clinton or Trump.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been marked by the political opportunism made popular by her husband and every democrat since, switching positions, saying whatever it takes to get elected. She’s switched position on the TPP, on higher education, and any other innumerable other positions. She received the support of organizations that her voting record has made clear she would not be the best candidate for, simply because it was assumed she’d win. And now we have the recent revelations, that the coronation wasn’t quite the metaphor we thought it was, instead it was reality. That the Democratic Party’s corruption runs bone deep, and they’re more than willing to engage the kind of behavior they’re so quick to criticize in the opposition.
And the worst part is, we have to make her President anyway.
The attitude of principle over pragmatism, of the unwavering faith in the ideal, is commendable. I want to believe it myself. I want to walk into the voting booth in November and write in Bernie’s name, or vote for Stein, and walk out with a clean conscience.
But there is a gun to our head, and that gun’s name is Donald J. Trump.
Trump, cannot, cannot, become president. There are plenty of reasons. One, maybe more, Supreme Court seats. The fact that he’d rubberstamp every hardcore conservative’s wet dream budget without even reading it. His ties to foreign powers. His stated desire to renege on international treaties. He is vulgar. He is a megalomaniac. He is a business failure. He represents the worst excesses of wealth and celebrity.
The real reason that Trump must not be President is: if Trump wins, if he wins with the lies, and the celebrity, and the fascism and ignorance then there will be those that will assume that is how one wins. It sounds like hyperbole to say that “Donald Trump will herald the end of America”, but let me assure you, it isn’t. Trump’s positions on every issue are beyond insane. Trump’s ties to crime and foreign leaders of ill repute are terrifying. The invigoration he has given to racists of every stripe in the US has been eye opening to some, and, as the son of an immigrant, absolutely horrifying to others. Donald Trump must not be President. We cannot allow it.
And so we must fall in line with Clinton. We must grit our teeth, hold down our bile and vote her into office against our every belief. Against everything that we want to believe in. And then we must take our rage, our anger and turn it to passion. We can’t give into the despair. We have to get out and get into the offices, and staffs, and volunteer roles of every progressive candidate we can, and when that candidate doesn’t exist we have to step forward and be that candidate. We have to create a block of power that the neo-liberals can’t ignore, without becoming an unthinking mob. By channeling our rage and anger, not giving into it. We can try for ideals and accept that we may not reach them on the first try. Or the fiftieth.
We can make politics about right versus wrong, about smart versus stupid. We can stand behind Clinton, our gazes hard, and make her and those like her realize that ultimately she answers to us. That we will vote for her, out of necessity, and that we will not be ignored. She needs us, then fine. But if we have to stand behind her, we do so as reluctant allies, always willing to point out where she’s wrong. Always willing to stand up to her loudly, and even more important, smartly.
It’s time to admit we lost. But there’s always another game.