Election thoughts on the eve of a big California primary
With a rare important California national primary happening tomorrow it’s finally time for me to jump deeper into the political fray. I am chagrined that I have not been more involved sooner in this cycle, but you can see my detailed reasons why and feelings below. In summary: 1. Vote Bernie! 2. Stop Trump! 3. Rally around Clinton if necessary. 4. Get to change-making, think globally, act locally, that’s what really matters right now.
First and foremost I want to say that Bernie Sanders is an incredible progressive candidate. He is way more aligned with my beliefs than any presidential candidate in my lifetime. I would be thrilled to see Bernie elected for so many reasons, but probably most of all that it would continue to inspire and grow this amazing movement of activated progressives that he has gathered around him. If you have a primary tomorrow please get out and vote, and please #FeelTheBern!
However, in my mind preventing Trump from winning is even more imperative than electing Bernie. I believe a Trump presidency would be a disaster for this country and the world and set us back years on many important issues (climate change being #1.) For this reason, if Clinton is the Democratic nominee I will rally around her and ask that you do the same. She’s not a great candidate, she’s definitely more of the same, but we gotta #StopTrump. I also believe that Hillary would not be as bad as progressives (including many friends) think she would be. Yes she’s been a war hawk and this is my biggest problem with her, but I have a sense that once in office she would actually be a pleasant surprise, in part because Bernie has pushed her further to the left. She certainly would fight for women’s rights and move us forward at least a little on important environmental fronts. Also the symbol of having a woman in office would be huge. At worst things would stay mostly as they are, which I am ok with, given that…
I don’t think that the president actually has that much power within our current political system and cultural environment. There are some very important things the president can do, like nominate supreme court justices and take us to war, but I think we would also end up disappointed in a Bernie presidency. He simply wouldn’t be able to accomplish that much. I believe that the big changes will happen from the bottom up. Of course bottom up movements have to start electing better candidates to office as part of the revolution, and Bernie would be an amazing step, but the country is not quite ready for the kind of massive change we need. Given another 8 years I think we could be. Also, even if Bernie is not elected, the movement he has energized can and should stay engaged and active. All this being said I absolutely want you to vote for Bernie. Let’s all make our voices heard and give it the best shot we can.
The next big question is would I support a contested convention? I am conflicted about this. Bernie has always been rightfully up in arms about the undemocratic power of super delegates, but now he is asking them (and us) to undemocratically make him the nominee. I understand that there has been shady business which may have robbed Bernie of some delegates, but I really don’t want to see the left continue to get more angrily divided when we need to be rallying around stopping Trump. I also know that Bernie has polled better against Trump than Hillary and I believe he could be a better candidate to beat Trump but I’m not convinced about that either. It’s true that the theme of this election is anti-establishment, but is this country really ready to elect a Jewish spiritual-but-not-religious “socialist”? So, a big part of me wants to use every tactic to try and get Bernie elected before finally rallying around Clinton if needed, but again, the more we create dissent and anger towards Clinton the harder that possibility becomes. On the other hand, one big reason for Bernie to stay in until the end is that Clinton could get indicted by the FBI which would raise serious concerns about her general electability and suggest that super delegates should switch to Bernie.
This is an inflection point on this planet, it’s pretty much now or never when it comes to preventing massive climate disaster. Trump getting elected could honestly push us headlong into this disaster. And it’s not just the climate, we are faced with so may other intertwining crises, from civil wars leading to massive numbers of refugees, to increasing inequality and the disenfranchisement of entire populations, to the destructions of our oceans, to increasing rates of depression and suicide… This is a moment. On the other hand so much good is happening, and I see that so many seeds of real, potent, large scale change have sprouted and are growing, blossoming, and cross pollinating, forming a beautiful garden. I think massive cultural change is inevitable, and the associated economic and political change that will come with it will be transformative and beautiful. We just need a bit more time before we are ready to harvest. Which brings us back to now. It almost feels like an epic battle between good and evil. I know that sounds hyperbolic, and I hate war metaphors, but I do feel the old systems and ways of thinking holding on with a deathlike grip. So we need to pry them loose and say goodbye with gentleness and love, but also with some force when necessary. My friend Micah says this is our deathstar moment: when against impossible odds we must harness the force alongside every ounce of energy, focus and skill we have to get one shot at winning this particular battle so that the struggle can continue. Which brings me back to what I said before, and why I have not been so politically activated: Because I don’t ultimately think that who gets elected president will have a huge impact, unless it’s Donald Trump. Now that Trump is a real possibility, it’s time to raise up and stop this threat to our planet.
Thoughts? This is a really challenging situation. I have disagreed with best brothers about much of this. Some say Clinton is as bad as Trump, I say that’s absurd. Some say let Trump win because it will accelerate the crash of the status quo and get people even more engaged in change making. I also disagree with this, I think he would do much more harm than good. One last thought, if Clinton wins the nomination then what about a Clinton/Sanders ticket? Sounds good to me. What to do you think?