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Thursday, August 4, 2016

I’m for “Jill, Not Hill”


Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice


I’m for “Jill, Not Hill”

When detractors accused the great English economist John Maynard​ Keynes of being inconsistent in his views, he reputedly replied, “When my information changes, I change my mind. What do you do?”
In a June 2015 op-ed, I wrote, “If the race in Pennsylvania or New Jersey is extremely close, I can imagine voting for Clinton for only reason: The Krusty the Clown clone emerging as the GOP candidate will be worse…” I was,​ of course, voicing the by now well-rehearsed “lesser of two evils”​ position, a topic adroitly analyzed by both David Swanson and Mike Albert in recent days.
The Republican clown was an easy call. Trump is a buffoon and a vulgar racist, a dumbed-down version of Ronald Reagan, low-hanging fruit that requires almost no effort from liberals to mock. Now, however, even with the prospect of a Trump presidency looming, I can no longer stomach the idea of voting for the slick, media-swaddled, neoliberal militarist,​ Hillary Clinton.

Even before we knew the DNC conspired to arrange a rigged, totally fraudulent Democratic primary to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination, I’d begun to find wisdom in Keynes’s adage. As the information accumulated, it became undeniable that Clinton was and remains​ not only almost innately dishonest, but an​ unapologetic neocon ​warmonger, advocate for the virulently anti-worker ​Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in bed with notorious despots, enabler​ of $50 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, ​and ​darling of Goldman Sachs and the corporate ruling class.
​A few examples: ​

​First, as the astute​ political writer​ Paul Street​ observes, it’s ironic that​ Trump wants to build a wall to keep out migrants and refugees while these people are coming in large measure due to disastrous U.S. policies championed by Hillary Clinton.
Second, Trump has no track record in foreign policy, although his rhetoric is alarming. Clinton surrounds herself with close advisors and confidants like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. And here is a peek into the foreign policy orientation we can expect from a Clinton presidency: When asked by CBS News reporter Leslie Stahl about one-half million Iraqi children who died as a result of U.S. sanctions (including denying them medicine), Albright responded, “We think it was a price worth paying.” Albright gave a glowing endorsement speech for HRC at the convention.

​Finally, shouldn’t it give one pause that Charles and David Koch, the far ​right-wing, wealthiest political activists in the country, refuse to support Trump because he’s insufficiently supportive of ​the “free market”? ​The Koch bothers prefer Hillary, as does the Karl Rove-led billionaires’ faction, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal​ and George Soros. The donor class is appalled by Trump’s criticism of ruinous trade deals like NAFTA, endless regime change wars, and power exercised by “big business.” Fittingly, on the convention’s final day, the fat cats arrived at their luxury suites in Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, or, as the headline in the New York Times declared, “After Lying Low, Deep-Pocketed Clinton Donors Return to the Fore.”
​Elite liberals are ​relying on fear to get folks to oppose Trump. Why? ​Because they’ve nothing to offer other than​ “Hillary isn’t Trump.” ​The Democratic Party establishment ​can never admit that their ​party’s policies have created ​the ​anger, inequality and ​helplessness​, the genuine grievances, upon which Trump has capitalized. It’s a certainty that Hillary Clinton will continue to embrace those policies.
What about electing the first female president? Those obsessed with identity politics above all else will never be persuaded. But Martin Luther King, Jr., ​resolutely proclaimed that judgments should only​ be about the content of one’s character​. Or, as the political scientist Michael Parenti once observed, it’s what’s between one’s ears, not between one’s loins, that matters. Employing these criteria, Hillary Clinton fails on every account.
​Where does that leave a conscientious voter who cares deeply about America’s future? Believe me, I get the argument about “lesser evil” voting. Clinton and Trump are not identical. But how does one parse degrees of evil?
For the sake of argument, let’s​ assume that Trump is more evil. For me, Hillary Clinton is still too evil to earn my vote.
To succumb to the “lesser evil” call, each and every time, indefinitely guarantees a “lesser evil-ism” political system. Or, to channel the poet Langston Hughes, when do we stop deferring the dream that “another world is possible” and begin insisting that new possibilities are taking shape right now?
​Barring any “new information​,” I plan to vote for Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate ​for president. ​Does she have a chance of winning? Of course not, but m​y hope is that a good showing will improve the chances of a decent candidate in the future. ​ We​ must play the long game. ​In the meantime, we must continue to engage in both local level political activity and non-electoral protest at all levels in order to build a movement to make this outcome possible.  
Gary Olson is professor and chair of the political science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. He is the author of Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture, and the Brain (New York: Springer-Verlag, 2013). He can be reached at: olson@moravian.eduRead other articles by Gary.

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