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Weissman writes: "Faced with two differently flawed major party candidates for president, most of us have already made our choice, especially after their first debate. What could anyone possibly say at this point to change our minds? But since you have been long-time readers, here is how I plan to vote and why."

Hillary Clinton. (photo: The New York Times)
Hillary Clinton. (photo: The New York Times)

Voting for Hillary With Eyes Wide-Open

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

02 October 16


aced with two differently flawed major party candidates for president, most of us have already made our choice, especially after their first debate. What could anyone possibly say at this point to change our minds? But since you have been long-time readers, here is how I plan to vote and why.

I will not endorse Hillary Clinton, as Bernie Sanders has done. But I will reluctantly vote for her. I know of no other realistic way to defeat Trump and his followers by the largest possible majority.

Like many of you, I see Trump and his followers as an existential danger to Muslims, Latinos, and African-Americans, an insult to women, and a threat to the creation of a progressive America. His hate-filled campaign empowers white supremacists, who have never accepted the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency. His demonization of Islam rallies religious conservatives who think America should be a Christian nation. His authoritarianism and his endless claim that “only I can solve your problems” raise the specter of “a man on horseback,” if not an orange-haired fascist Führer.

Why, then, don’t I vote for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein?

Many friends and colleagues who vote in states where Clinton appears to have a sizeable lead may well vote for Jill. But it's a risky gamble. During the primaries, the polls – and even the legendary Nate Silver's probability predictions – proved glaringly unreliable. How can we trust the numbers to be any more accurate in this strange and extremely consequential election? How can we risk a protest vote on a candidate who has almost no chance of being seen or heard, and absolutely no chance of defeating Donald Trump?

Does voting for Clinton trap us forever into having to vote for a lesser evil? That is up to us. Bernie is trying to meet this challenge both inside and outside the Democratic Party. He has helped create groups like Our Revolution and Brand New Congress, which are funding progressive candidates for all levels of government.

Bernie himself has chosen to work within the Clinton campaign, stressing the progressive nature of the Democratic Party platform to which Hillary agreed, and promising to hold her feet to the fire once she’s elected.

He has also agreed to work with Senator Elizabeth Warren to fight against Hillary selecting any Wall Street figures to serve in her cabinet. I suspect that Hillary will roll right over them, but the fight is worth the effort.

Make no mistake. I greatly admire Hillary Clinton for her intellect and determination. Becoming the country’s first female presidential candidate from a major political party has been a huge success for her, her family, and all of America, especially our young people, boys as well as girls. I also agree with Bernie and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, an advisor to Hillary, that she is more progressive than Obama, though that is not a very high standard.

She has publicly acknowledged the need to rein in Wall Street. If she does, I think we should all support her efforts. But I am not optimistic. She continues to peddle the discredited myth of mostly free-market, neo-liberal economics.

She has said many times that the vast inequality of wealth in America destroys our democracy. She has promised to fight this inequality. I hope she does. But she limits what she can do by the close ties she continues to maintain with Wall Street and major multinational corporations.

Under pressure from Bernie’s supporters, she has promised to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But every time she defends her husband’s energetic support for the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, as she did in her first debate with Trump, she loses more support from former Democratic voters who saw NAFTA send American factories to Mexico, kill well-paying jobs, and destroy living and working communities, mostly in what we now call the Rust Belt.

You can see why I’m so unhappy about having to vote for Clinton just to vote against Trump. But the main reason I cannot endorse Hillary should be obvious from all that I’ve written. Simply put, I cannot go along with her interventionist, liberal imperialist foreign policy, whether in Syria or Libya, and her eagerness to engage in a new Cold War with Russia.

Endless, no-win wars in Muslim countries will only encourage more terrorist attacks, spurring on the racial and religious hatred that Donald Trump and his followers are now preaching. A cold war with Russia raises the risk of nuclear confrontation that we could all lose. And all the military spending, planning, and plotting will only take time, focus, and resources away from building a truly progressive America.

Some wishful thinkers have argued that Hillary has good reasons to turn away from her war-like ways and focus on her progressive aspirations. If she does, let us all applaud. If she does not, I will continue to oppose her. I expect most of you will do the same.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.

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