A Plea to my Fellow Progressives

    There are a number of excellent reasons progressives should vote for Hillary Clinton for President while the arguments in favor of Jill Stein or sitting out the election do not hold water.

    1. If Clinton loses, the progressive cause will be set back for decades perhaps for the forseeable future.

    George W. Bush's win in 2000 did grievous harm to our nation. W lied us into a costly destructive war in 2003, slashed taxes on the wealthy thereby ballooning the national debt, and failed to stop the financial crisis. If popular sentiment had prevailed and Ralph Nader had stayed out of the race, it is probable that America would right now be enjoying broad-based prosperity, peace, and would be leading the world towards a sustainable energy future.

    The crucial value of a Democratic President can also be seen in a slew of recent destructive Supreme Court decisions which, among other things, sapped the progressive movement. Consider how Citizens United amplified the voices of billionaires while muting those of the 99%. With the Court now balanced at 4-4 and an aging set of Justices, the importance of keeping the White House blue for the future of a vibrant political left cannot be overstated.

    2. Clinton may well be a better choice to govern than Jill Stein in any case.

    One reason that I never got the Nader people in 2000 is I didn't see any evidence that Nader would be a better President than Al Gore. In fact, the opposite seemed far more likely. Gore had decades of experience in government and a record that demonstrated true concern for the American people. Nader was a corporate gadfly from whose work America certainly benefited but who also displayed a cynical libertarian streak that boded ill for those dependent on government for survival if he took office. His insistence that he was fully qualified to be President without ever holding any elected office or appointed position demonstrated an overweening arrogance as well.

    The same arguments that Gore would be a better President than Nader apply in a head-to-head comparison between Clinton and Jill Stein albeit not to quite the same degree. Clinton has a more troubling history than Gore and Stein has been elected to political office. But if we believe, and we should, that governing a vast nation requires some measure of experience and expertise in high levels of government, doesn't Clinton's eight-year stint in the United States Senate and her term as Secretary of State count for a lot more than Stein's five years as a Town of Lexington, Massachussetts, Representative, Precinct 2.

    3) Tim Kaine does not signify anything much about how Hillary Clinton will govern.

    Barack Obama's running mate was Joe from Scranton - a relatively pro-peace, pro-union Dem. Yet Obama often gave unions the cold shoulder, boosted our military presence in Afghanistan, and came down hard on public schools. From the workings of Obama's administration and those of previous Presidents, it is clear that other cabinet choices like Treasury Secretary, Secretary of State, and Education Secretary are as or more important than the Vice President. In the end, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Sherrod Brown all may be more valuable in the Senate or possibly in another cabinet level office than they would be as Vice President.

    Also, consider that some Vice Presidents, including Harry S Truman and LBJ, proved to be far more progressive Presidents than anybody expected. Former Clinton operative Terry McAuliffe is currently in the process of restoring voting rights to thousands of Virginia felons over the strenuous objections of Republican legislators and the Virginia Supreme Court. The point is that Democrats with a moderate record sometimes surprise us by their progressivism.

    4. Tim Kaine is not as regressive as some on the left are saying.

    Upon close inspection, the progressive arguments against Tim Kaine are somewhat forced. His most egregious fault, in my view, was his strong support for the Trans Pacific Partnership. Clinton was for it before she was against it and many on the left - yours truly included - doubt she is a truly committed foe. But Politico reported Saturday that Kaine has now come out against the deal.

    A number of Sanders supporters have also slammed Kaine for being too hawkish. Arguing that Obama has overstepped the authority Congress granted Bush to respond to 9/11, Kaine has repeatedly called for Congress to vote on the legality of America's military action against ISIS. Left-wingers claim this proves Kaine is a warmonger since he posits that Congress should grant Obama explicit authority to attack ISIS.

    The leftists are wrong here. Kaine has taken a strong pro-rule of law position against a President of his own party. If Congress and Obama were to heed his claim that the Commander-in-Chief cannot wage war unilaterally, our far-flung military operations would have to be pared back significantly.

    5. The choice is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

    Whether progressives and libertarians like it or not, whether it's fair or not, the next President will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He will not be Gary Johnson or Bernie Sanders. She will not be Jill Stein. The question Hillary-hating progressives must ask themselves is who is more likely to harm America Trump or Clinton?

    The answer to this question is undoubtedly Donald Trump. Trump is exploiting and exacerbating our nation's race and class divisions. Clinton is likely to do what she can to heal them. Yes Clinton is a hawk and Trump came out against the war on Iraq long before she grudgingly acknowledged her mistaken vote to authorize it. But Trump's inconsistent statements on the propriety of American military action, his bellicose rhetoric, and his obviously inchoate philosophy bespeak a manifest unfitness to serve as Commander in Chief.

    Trump's recognition that “free” trade has harmed America's workers and decimated our middle class is welcome but his record as businessman does not suggest he will act in the best interests of employees. His plan to slash taxes on the wealthy will reduce further the ability of government to alleviate the plight of America's non-affluent. Clinton by contrast has called for higher taxes on the wealthiest.

    In a world that has experienced 14 consecutive months of record heat, Trump's global warming denialism alone should rule him out as a legitimate Presidential candidate. Clinton acknowledges the seriousness of the problem and Tim Kaine has called for politicians to lead us to a clean green energy future.

    Progressives in dark blue states like New York, California, and my home state of Maryland are arguing their state will go for Clinton regardless so they feel “free” to vote for Jill Stein or to write in Bernie Sanders. The problem with this position is the more chatter there is online and in the media about the millions of progressives who have turned their back on Clinton, the greater the likelihood that at least a few voters in true swing states like Florida and Ohio will vote along with their comrades in safe states. As we know from 2000, just a few thousand progressive defectors can be enough to allow a right-winger to take the reins of power.


    Clinton is far from an ideal candidate but on clinching the Democratic nomination she became the only reasonable viable option. By choosing Tim Kaine as her running mate, Clinton has made this truth even more stark.




    Thanks Kyle!

    I will sign on to your argument and your conclusion with one exception which is to your last paragraph before the conclusion. I believe that any progressive such as I who lives in either a solidly red state or a some other who lives in a solidly blue state should vote strategically. I will vote either for Stein or maybe write in Sanders. 

     I realize that there is some chance involved in any close election, I remember Florida. I think though that the biggest lesson from Florida has been largely forgotten as the memory of that travesty has been misdirected so that when most people think about the loss they think about blaming Nader. The most important lesson from that election is that an election can be stolen. Our voting system is still a joke because it is still vulnerable to fraud.  

    If our voting system is still a joke it's been a joke for 240 years. It's a joke that was far more "funny" 50 or 100 or more years ago. We did not create a perfect union 240 years ago. We've been working to create a more perfect union for 240 years. One can hold onto a fantasy of perfection and be discouraged with where we are or be inspired by the work already done as we grid ourselves up to move forward to eliminate the imperfections. I am more heartened by the great strides America and the world has made over the last couple of centuries than I am discouraged by the work we have left to do. From monarchies to democracies, however flawed they may be. From slavery to nearly equal rights for minorities, from virtually no rights for women to almost equal rights. How ever far we still have to go we have traveled an extraordinary distance in a couple of centuries. I don't think it's helpful to simply look at the distance we have yet to travel without taking some encouragement from the distance we've traveled to get here.

    Nicely said, Ocean.

    Maybe you do not believe that Bush's first election was stolen. I do. The attention brought by that theft has shown that there are other ways to steal an election. The "system being a joke" is a reference mostly to the fact that vote counts of computerized machines can be manipulated. That has not been a possibility for 240 years. Whether any election has been stolen in this way is something we do not/can not know and that is part of the problem. Even if absolute proof is not available one way or the other in a case where fraud appears to have happened, strong suspicions of fraud do damage to our democracy. We should have a system that is transparently verifiable. We do not have such a system. The fact that we do not have such a system when we could have is a sad joke. I hope it is not Trump or someone even worse who gets the last laugh. 

     Besides the possibility of outright theft being eliminated there are other obvious improvements to our voting system that shouldn't take another 240 years to implement. 

    You can vote your conscience and not be booed. Many of us disagree with your choice. The system has been rigged against black people since the beginning of the country. Conservatives are trying to prevent black voters from going to the polls. Black voters are making a clear choice to vote for the Democrat. Black voters do not look for perfection. In general, blacks don't waste votes to make a point. Blacks will make a strong point to vote for the person most capable of defeating the racist bigot Trump. Blacks in Alabama and Mississippi realize that their states will vote for the racist, but they are not going to cast a "protest" vote. You feel a moral obligation to vote for Stein or Sanders, others oppressed by the system feel morally obligated to vote Clinton/ Kaine.

     Starting from the top: You may disagree with my choice, that is your choice, but notice that my choice puts Hillary in the Presidency. My choice also attempts to promote some better ideas  than what I expect from Hillary. Blacks, who you say do not waste their votes to make a point, should still vote strategically to make some gains. Making a point might be the only possibility.

    Blacks in Alabama and Mississippi realize that their states will vote for the racist, but they are not going to cast a "protest vore".

    Why not? A black person who votes for Hillary in Alabama or Mississippi is wasting their time as well as their vote. Voting strategically is an attempt to not waste time by casting a futile vote. Better to promote a candidate who has no chance but who would be better, if there is such a person, so as to advance the better ideas held by that person.    

    You feel a moral obligation to vote for Stein or Sanders, others oppressed by the system feel morally obligated to vote Clinton/ Kaine.

    No, I do not feel any moral obligation to vote for Stein. I do not feel a moral obligation to vote at all. I do feel a moral obligation to oppose some of the policies I expect Hillary to implement. My vote for Stein will not affect the outcome of this election one iota but I hope it is one of a big enough group to give the Green Party a voice in the 2020 debates and to make the Democratic candidates "evolve" their positions somewhat in the meantime. 



    Blacks are not wasting their vote. 30% this time can be 35% next, 40% next, 52% next. Few expected Obama to barnstorm in 2008. A bit of uncertainty each time.

    Southern states like Georgia, North Carolina , etc may be in play. Blacks are not wasting their votes.

    Either Trump will be President or Clinton will be President. There is no question that Trump is a white supremacist. There is no other choice than Clinton.

    Numbers matter. I think it's important that Trump not just lose but that he is repudiated. A clear message from the voters that his views are not the way Americans see themselves. This is not a normal election.

    Sorry, Lu but your triangulation seems to me to be turning a meaningless vote for a meaningless third party into a cowardly vote for nothing.

    The only way to even imagine a viable third party is to imagine destroying the democrat party first, anything else is magical thinking.

    If there were enough people who agreed on common goals to work together to destroy the democratic party and create a viable third party they'd have sufficient power and could more easily make the democratic party into their vision. I've seen no evidence that there are nearly enough people to do that.

    Destroying the Democratic Party without a having a viable replacement would put the system completely in the hands of the Republicans.

    Maybe you do not believe that Bush's first election was stolen.  I do.

    I can top that.  I think both his elections were stolen, but I disagree about the methods.  The first was was stolen by Jeb Bush, who disenfranchised thousands of Democrats, and then the Supreme Court, which disenfranchised the entire electorate.  The second one was by manipulating voting machines mainly in Ohio to flip results.  (Did you see the Rove freak-out at FOX when it didn't get repeated in Obama's re-election?)

    I still think Oceankats points are valid.  We have made enormous strides to be fair and honorable, and I hope and expect it to continue.  Every citizen should have the right to vote.  That isn't the case now, but it will be if Clinton can appoint the next Supreme Court Judges.  Maybe we can even MODERNIZE our voting so you can do it on your cell phone, or in a shopping mall, or even just on a Saturday instead of Tuesday when most people are at work.

    The problem with distrust of the voting system goes to sleep until a few months before an upcoming election.  I think President Hillary Clinton should appoint a task force to look at voting rights and election facility across the country.  Because if every election, primary, etc, is deemed to be "rigged" there will never be unity. 

    By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines. If Russia really is responsible, there's no reason political interference would end with the DNC emails.



    The process of democratic voting requires a strong sense of trust – in the equipment, the process and the people involved.

    Voting officials recognize that these technologies are vulnerable. 

    And yes, a few votes can make a big difference.

    Perfect systems cannot be implemented by imperfect people. They never have been and it's been even more undemocratic in the past. Partisans often care more about winning then they care about democracy. So now we see some partisans fighting vigorously against potentially undemocratic superdelegates that have never changed the democratically expressed will of the people while saying nothing about undemocratic caucuses that have changed the democratically expressed will of the people. But I do agree and expressed my desire that we continue to work to make things better.

    Lulu, if we let it be close they will look for a way to steal. Or claim it was stolen. It's the American way.

    I agree, that is a risk. 

    Do you really hate Hillary?  That much?  Really?

    No, CVille, I do not hate Hillary. I strongly oppose some of her positions. What is it about agreeing with PP's statement that you think indicates that I "hate" Hillary? 

    Months/years of vitriol and invective and calumnous screeds?

    Hi LuLu... Hmmmm . . .

    I didn't read anything connected to the following in OC's comment.

    "Maybe you do not believe that Bush's first election was stolen."

    As to the overall content of your comment. I agree. Although, specific to this...

    "Besides the possibility of outright theft being eliminated there are other obvious improvements to our voting system that shouldn't take another 240 years to implement."

    Yes, obviously improvements are needed.  We are a continuous work in PROGRESS. And OC did point this out:

    "How ever far we still have to go we have traveled an extraordinary distance in a couple of centuries."


    Hey back OGB. Thanks for the comment. OK was responding to a comment of mine. If you go back to that point I think you will see how the dialog developed. My comment ended with: "The most important lesson from that election is that an election can be stolen. Our voting system is still a joke because it is still vulnerable to fraud". His response was about all the great progress we have made and it went from there. 

    "How ever far we still have to go we have traveled an extraordinary distance in a couple of centuries."

    I already knew that we are exceptional. smiley


    Lulu, I see no harm in a protest vote in a non-swing state because the vote has no impact. Would you advocate a vote for Stein in a swing state?

    No, in a swing state in this election it is important to vote for Hillary, IMO. 

     It is not a big deal but I want to point out that in my view there is a difference between a protest vote and a strategic vote. I at least choose to use a different name and bicker about it a tad. A strategic vote as I have described is for something even If it is not expected that the candidate receiving that vote actually has a chance. A protest vote is a vote against someone. If I thought Jill Stein actually had a chance to be elected I would look much closer at her record to see if I thought she could actually handle the job but as a strategic vote for her it is only about advancing the direction of our government in the direction that she and the green party espouse. I want the Democratic Party to be one that I am proud to vote for, not the bad but lesser evil among the only two options. 

    Fair enough. It's a good distinction. 

    If you want to effect change in the Democratic Party you have to be a Democrat. Voting for another Party makes it  easy for you to be dismissed. I will repeat the story of Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party had the right to seat 23 people at the 1964 Democratic Convention but were denied seats by the Democratic Party leaders in Mississippi. Lyndon Johnson was running for President against Barry Goldwater and did not want to anger the racist Southern Democrats. Fannie Lou Hamer rejected a compromise of two seats that were offered by Johnson after negotiations with Southern Democrats. Johnson tried to do an end run around Hamer by trying to negotiate with MFDP members privately without involving Hamer. The two seat compromise was rejected. Hamer and the MFDP did not leave the Democratic Party, they continued to fight for their rights. In 1968, the MFDP was seated. In 1972, Hamer was elected a national delegate. The MFDP never left the party and never gave up the fight.


    Who would you have voted for between Johnson and Goldwater? On voting day we couldn't know the future but Johnson was ultimately pretty good for the Civil Rights Movement while his foreign policy resulted in several million deaths. Suppose that you were convinced going into the election that Johnson would make bad decisions about war but Goldwater would make even much, much worse decisions when faced with the same choices. I'm guessing you would vote for Johnson especially with him being a Democrat. Now suppose that you lived in a very blue state and Martin Luther King was running as a third party candidate in that same election and you were for him and for his policies but you also knew that he had zero chance to win. If you had the chance to vote for him and help make his message more viable going forward without giving any benefit to Goldwater, would you have considered doing so?   

    It was not in MLK's make up to run for office. Shirley Chisholm ran in 1972. Jesse Jackson ran for President in 1984 and 1988.. Al Sharpton ran for President in 2004 and declined to run again in 2008. None of the black Democratic candidates ran as third parties. Your hypothetical is unrealistic, but I doubt that I would have cast a vote for MLK as a third party protest because he was more activist than politician. 

    If the goal is to change the Democratic Party, carry the fight to the Democratic Party. Once a person  casts a vote for a third-party and then comes back to the Democratic Party demanding change, they are likely to get a cool response from people who stayed to fight within the ranks of the  Democratic Party. Why should people who stayed to fight listen to what the person who left the party has to say? The person who voted third-party would be considered weak.

    I believe that any progressive such as I who lives in either a solidly red state or a some other who lives in a solidly blue state should vote strategically. I will vote either for Stein or maybe write in Sanders. 

    To me, this has always been a very good argument.  You know if your state is contested or not. That creates great opportunities to vote for third party or outsider candidates without handing over the country to the opposite of what you'd want.  Heck, I voted for Sander in the NY primary, despite supporting Clinton, because I was confident that Clinton would win New York anyway and believed that a strong challenge from Sanders would make Clinton a better person and the Democrats a better party.

    I think the same logic would justify me voting for Stein.  Clinton would still win New York and maybe, just maybe, I'd manage to help the Greens get back to major party status here.  Honestly, the only think holding me back, (given where I am voting, of course) is that I believe Clinton will be our first woman president and I'd like to be able to say I voted for her, rather than for the no-chance woman running on a third party ticket.

    There's a lot to think about here, at least for voters not moving the Trump needle one way or the other.

    This is a summary that any Bernie supporter should be able to get behind.  It is very well stated and I appreciate your careful thoughts and efforts.  I presume you are posting this  in several places.  Good job!

    Yes.  I posted at my website and in various groups.  Some Sanders' supporters have reacted positively others, as may be imagined, disagree.  I have not seen much hate though.

    Excellent post, Hal.


    Very much agreed.

    There is no issue for me; but we need to publish more essays like you. We need to spread the word.

    Big deal today:

    Bloomberg endorses Clinton and will speak at the convention.


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