My integrity is not for sale: Why I am not voting for Hillary Clinton

While the numbers of Super Tuesday are being reported, it seems the inevitable conclusion is that the presidential hopeful and professional campaigner Hillary Clinton will seal the Democratic nomination for the top office. It is a slow and painful truth that many supporters of Bernie Sanders do not want to face, but will have to accept. There is a saying I live by, “Don’t fight reality” because you will never win. When Clinton does accept the nomination, there will be an expectation of Sanders supporters to turn and vote for her, because “We don’t want to see Trump in the White House.” This is train of thought that I believe has propelled Clinton as the front-runner. I have heard folk say, “Well, she is the only one that can beat the Republicans. We can’t have Trump or Rubio as president, they would ruin the country.” Hedging your bets on the politician that has the best chances to win is nothing new. Voters have been doing this throughout the years. This race however, seems more bent on fear-mongering than actually supporting a candidate that has your best interests at heart.

I have never been a strong Bernie Sanders supporter. I like a few of the Vermont Senator’s positions such as Medicare for all, free college tuition, and his persistence towards income inequality, but I have never felt a burning desire to campaign for him. Sanders is good, but he doesn’t excite me. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, is someone that I have a great disdain for. On many important issues — same sex marriage, the Iraq War, the Trans Pacific Partnership, she has flip-flopped and not been consistent. Some may call it “evolving” but I say her positions seem to lean towards whatever is popular at the time. Clinton comes off as inauthentic and cold, unable to feign support for those that are not like her. It doesn’t help that with many of her recorded confrontations with young Black activists, Clinton is seen as dismissive and short tempered. I can imagine her thinking “How dare these negroes talk to me like that!” And of course there is Clinton’s support for her husband Bill Clinton, former President’s 1994 Crime Bill, which ushered in an era of Black men and women imprisoned at rates that were unheard of.

When I talk to friends and tell them that under no circumstances will I vote for Hillary Clinton, they hit me with the “Well, would you rather have Trump?” No, of course not. I could not vote for someone that I cannot take seriously. Trump is a media creation, someone that says the most outrageous things just to get a rise out you. He is a ridiculous, overtly racist person that I could never imagine negotiating a discount on a dented can of beans in mature way, let alone international affairs. Still, that does not move me to run to the polls and check off Clinton.

One of the topics that I write about frequently is mass incarceration. I have published essays on my visit to San Quentin Federal Prison when I participated in an educational panel for SQUIRES, a program for young men that is designed to deter them from committing crimes. Being in San Quentin is an awe-inspiring experience because not only do you see how life is behind bars, but the effects of legislation such as The 1994 Crime Bill has. I also have written columns for Gorilla Convict, a prison-centric website created by Seth Ferranti, a talented novelist and former casualty of the drug war that was imprisoned for over 20 years. My pieces on Gorilla Convict address recidivism and how ex-offenders can stay out of prison. Stemming recidivism means a lot to me. I come from a place where people have been going to the penitentiary since they were 17. As a Black man, I know statistically I stand a one out of four chance in being incarcerated. With that being said, I have to do what I can to help people — my people in staying out of prison.

With my interests in mass incarceration, there is no way with great conscience I could support a candidate that has accepted campaign contributions from private prison lobbying groups. Ready For Hillary PAC, a political action committee associated with Clinton, received $133,246 from Geo Group and Corrections Corporations of America, two companies that operate numerous of criminal detention facilities, or private prisons. Now if you are a candidate that is against mass incarceration, a candidate that wants to help reverse the affects of racist policies that have destroyed countless Black and Brown families, why would you take money from private prisons?

I hope someday my work and writings about prison and recidivism will help someone. I would love to be considered an abolitionist (I know I have a LONG way to go) and I don’t see how that can happen by voting for Hillary Clinton. I am tired of the “Lesser of two evils” rhetoric. I am not going to be scared into voting for someone that goes against what I believe in. My integrity is not for sale.