It has been said that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. Apparently, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wishes to fool all of the people, at least those who were once his loyal devotees, all of the time. This writer received an enthusiastic email from some organization talking about the next steps in Mr. Sanders ‘revolution’, and requesting that this writer hold a house party to watch a speech to be given by the senator, as part of the initiation of a new organization called ‘Our Revolution’.
Well, there is certainly something revolting about all this, but it has nothing to do with a social change.
Mr. Sanders, that avowed socialist with a long and undistinguished career in what passes in the U.S. for public service (well-paid ‘service’, that is), lost all credibility with any but his most blindly loyal followers when, after months of railing against everything that Hillary Clinton stands for, even to the point of calling her unfit to be president, he put on a happy face and gave her a glowing endorsement at the Democratic Convention. Does this sound to the reader like a man of integrity? Does endorsing Miss Wall Street 2016 have that ring of revolutionary fervor? Does such glowing support of the Princess of Israel sound like part of revolutionary change
Methinks not. No, his support for Mrs. Clinton, and his forthcoming address about ‘Our Revolution’, seem to be the work of a career politician who wants to bask in whatever remains of the adulation of his naive and enthusiastic youthful followers, while at the same time enjoying all the perquisites of ‘the good old boys’ club’. The only thing he sacrifices along the way (in addition, of course, to self-respect, but who in elected office has that anyway?), is credibility. Oh, and integrity. And honesty. Well, maybe he does make many sacrifices to enjoy both the prestige of change agent and maintainer of the status quo. But really, does anyone do it better than he?
Let’s look for a moment to the dismal sight on the right wing of this rather repulsive bird known as the Republocratic Party. While some of the Republican elected officials are running as fast as possible, like rats from a sinking ship, from their candidate, billionaire Donald Trump, others are grabbing whatever life-preservers they can find, as they attempt to ‘put Party first’ and support their repugnant candidate. So what if he insults every non-white, non-male, non-Christian group on the planet? Let’s see: women, mothers, Muslims, gays, poor people, Mexicans, Blacks; the list is really rather long. But, say the GOP bigwigs, we must put Party first, apparently before justice, equality and common decency, but who needs those old things anyway?
We are told that Mrs. Clinton holds an 8 – 10 point lead over Mr. Trump in current polls. Now, if one were to look just at Mr. Trump, one would wonder why his opponent’s lead isn’t 30 or 40 or more points in size. But, on the other hand, if one were to look only at Mrs. Clinton, one would wonder how bad her opponent would have to be, for her to be leading.
To hear the corporate-owned media tell it, this is the choice facing the U.S. voter today: two candidates so out of touch with most of the United States as to be laughable, if it weren’t so tragic. But allow this writer to offer a slight glimmer of hope, a possible ray of sunshine within ever-darkening clouds, and advise the reader of something he/she will not hear from MSNBC and its various corporate cohorts: there are dozens of third-party candidates running!
Now, for many years, this writer thought that a vote for a third party candidate was a throwaway, accomplishing nothing and possibly allowing the greater of the two ‘evil’ candidates to be elected. Isn’t it better, he argued, to vote for the ‘lesser evil’?
Well, he is singing a different song this time around, possibly because, much as he studies the issues and the candidates, he sees no ‘lesser’ evil. The U.S. and the world will be subjected to either a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump presidency, and that’s like choosing between Satan and Bael; they are the same individual with different names.
So what can be accomplished by voting for a third-party candidate? Certainly, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Gloria La Riva and the other dozens running have no chance of ever seeing the inside of the White House unless they pay their fee and enter with the tour guide. But there are at least three good reasons for not voting for either the Republican or Democratic candidate:
1/ It enables the voter to express complete dissatisfaction with both the candidates, and the nominating process (which is particularly undemocratic in the Democratic Party, a fact that burned Mr. Sanders, but that he seems very willing to forgive and forget). An increasing number of votes for third-party candidates threatens the power of the GOP and Democrats, who will stop at nothing to hold onto that power. If they come to realize that they will lose it unless they change, they will eventually change; being relegated to inconsequence is the worst nightmare of all U.S. elected officials. However, as the GOP has proven after its three electoral losses in the last four presidential elections, that lesson doesn’t come quickly. And one is naïve indeed if one thinks the Democrats will be quick to adjust to changing voter sentiment. But it will happen.
2/ Voting for a third-party candidate enables the voter to enthusiastically select a candidate. No more thinking, “well this one is bad, and that one is terrible, so I guess I’ll vote for the bad one to minimize the damage”. The election of either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump will be equally disastrous: voters should select someone they would actually like to see as president.
3/ The voter who votes for a third-party candidate avoids being a party to whatever disasters occur after Inauguration Day of 2017. And the disasters will come, with either an irresponsible buffoon having his finger on the nuclear button, or a cold and calculating war-monger, seeking to readjust the world to her own and Israel’s twisted ways of thinking.
Does this writer sound cynical? Does it seem strange that he does not wish to continue President Obama’s legacy, as Mrs. Clinton has vowed to do? Yes, there will be more wars, more poverty, more injustice under a new Clinton administration, continuing Mr. Obama’s barbaric policies of drone warfare and support for nations with atrocious human rights records, like Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Or perhaps the reader is puzzled that, disliking Mrs. Clinton so much, this writer doesn’t throw his support behind the obnoxious, egotistical windbag the Republicans are running. No, since he understands that Blacks, women, Muslims, poor people, gays, etc. in this country, and everyone abroad, regardless of the government under which they live, are entitled to basic human dignity and self-determination, he cannot pull the lever for Mr. Trump.
So what is he to do, but take his own advice and vote for a third-party candidate. For him, that means pulling the lever (actually, marking the paper, since he lives in Canada and votes by absentee ballot), beside the name of Gloria La Riva. If one wants to talk about a revolution, it is Ms. La Riva, and not the ineffectual and hypocritical Mr. Sanders, that one should be studying. By so voting, he will, as mentioned above, express dissatisfaction with all things Republican and Democrat; vote for someone he is enthusiastic about, and not have to explain, when the death toll from U.S. wars in the Middle East and who knows where else skyrockets, how dead people under a Democratic administration are, somehow, not as tragic as under a Republican administration.
The upcoming election is a tragicomedy in many ways, but, ultimately, the laughter will cease, and only the tragedy will remain. This writer will not be a part of it.
Originally published on Counterpunch.