Open Letter to My Progressive Pal Who Votes for the Lesser-of-Two-Evils
by Roger D. Harris / September 17th, 2016
I asked you who is the lesser evil when even the Washington Post
posits Hillary Clinton to the “political right
” of Trump on international issues?
And you responded: “So I guess I should vote for Trump?”
Gimme Shelter: Fleeing Trump to the Democrat’s Big Tent
You are right that there are differences between the Democratic and
Republican presidential candidates. No one recognizes that better than
the ruling elites who are tripping over each other to join the Clinton
Mainstream Republicans, such as Romney and the Bush bunch, are
gravitating in droves to the better Republican who happens to be a
nominal Democrat. To the right of them, practically the entirety of the neo-conservative establishment
is converting to born-again Hillaryistas.
Charles and David, the ultra-libertarian Koch brothers
and Republican Party kingpins, have rejected Trump, cutting him off
from a major source of funding. Another billionaire politico and
sometimes Republican, Michael Bloomberg
gave Clinton his endorsement at the Democratic National Convention.
Refugees fleeing the land of the GOP are finding succor in Clinton’s big tent. Clinton’s New Democrats are actively courting the conservatives
being pushed out of the GOP by the embarrassing Mr. Trump.
The ruling elites are practically unanimously opposed to Trump
for two reasons: he’s unreliable and he is not a good snake oil
salesman for their cause. Those of us to the left of Attila the Hun also
oppose Trump, but not for the same reasons. See, for instance, Peace
and Freedom Party presidential candidate Gloria La Riva’s
description of Trump as a “disgusting bigot, the embodiment of the worst excesses of the capitalist system.”
First, the ruling elites find Trump untrustworthy to carry their
water. Maybe Trump will come around on “free trade” issues or maybe he
won’t. But with Clinton they have a proven faithful servant
Back in 2008, when Wall Street demanded a bailout with no strings
attached, mainstream Republican President Bush devotedly accommodated
the banksters as did Democratic presidential candidate Obama. But
Republican presidential candidate McCain thought that some conditions
should be put on this gift of free money from the American tax payers.
That is when former CEO of Goldman Sachs and architect of the bailout
Hank Paulson – incidentally serving as Bush’s treasure secretary –
blackmailed McCain to either genuflect to Wall Street, or Paulson would
come out publically for Obama. Wall Street got the bailout and later
trillions of dollars more under Obama’s “quantitative easing
.” The financial elite migrated en masse
to the new Democrats.
That migration continues with Hillary Clinton, Wall Street’s anointed retainer
. Unlike in the past when the big financial interests hedged their bets by contributing to both Democrats and Republicans, the smart money
is going to the donkey party in 2016.
Second, Wall Street understands
that not only will Clinton be more compliant, but she will also be
better at legitimizing their class rule. Trump with his open chauvinism
and nativism would be too obvious and could provoke a greater resistance
to the neoliberal project. It’s not that the ruling elites are
squeamish about racism and imperialism, but they are adverse about
making it so plainly obvious.
Sympathy for the Devil: Voting for Clinton
Absent the few Bernie-or-busters, the net result of the Sanders
candidacy has been to deliver a new generation of voters into the
Democratic Party. A Pew poll predicts 90 percent of unwavering Sanders supporters
plan to vote for Clinton in November. There they join the great majority of African American voters as a captured constituency
to be flagrantly ignored by Clinton.
Given the logic of the lesser-of-two-evils voting, these citizens
have no recourse but to suck it up as Clinton rushes to the right to woo
the remnants of the Republican Party. Gallup
polls reports Republicans want leaders who stick to their beliefs, while Democrats more readily accept compromise.
December’s Children: Opposing Neoliberalism by Voting for It
The lesser-of-two-evils defense dictates that we vote for Clinton – despite all her admittedly bad stuff
– for fear that a Trump presidency would dismantle public health care,
attack the unions, and stack the Supreme Court to the right. This
argument fails on two counts: it perpetuates a drift to the right with
no prospect of reversal and it creates the conditions for an even more
noxious phenomenon than Trump come 2020.
On the first count, you say that you’ll hold your nose and vote for
Clinton in November and then in December you’ll lobby against her. But
Clinton isn’t stupid. As long as she knows that lesser-of-two-evils
adherents will still vote for her, she’ll continue feinting to the left
and moving to the right. Unions will still be targeted, because Clinton
knows Wall Street will abandon her if she doesn’t deliver low wages and
Bill Clinton was able to end welfare as we know it, pass the NAFTA
“free trade” scam, enable the incarceration of multitudes of poor people
of color, conduct “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia to achieve
regime change, etc. This was a rightist Republican agenda, which the
Republicans could not enact. Yet a slick Democrat could deliver
precisely because the lesser-of-two-evils adherents voted Bill Clinton
into a second term.
Privatizing Social Security
was next on the Bill Clinton’s chopping block. But Monica Lewinsky, my
favorite Democrat, thwarted that plan. Now it is Hillary Clinton’s “turn
” to continue that legacy.
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: A Clinton Presidency
On the second count, there is a curious relationship between the
Clinton and Trump candidacies. In short, Trump is the symptom; Clinton
is the disease. In other words, the conditions that have allowed for a
candidacy such as the likes of Trump were the product of neoliberal
policies personified by the likes of Clinton.
Trump has been able to tap into a genuine sense of powerlessness and
dispossession among the American people. These sentiments are materially
based on rising income inequality
. We are working longer hours
– surpassing even the Japanese work week – and we are more efficient
than ever, but our living conditions are stagnating or depressing.
This time around, we got a repugnant blowhard like Trump. But we
don’t have to worry about him getting elected in 2016. The ruling elites
will take care that he will be lucky to win Alaska. Trump’s already
fatally shaky presidential prospects will be enormously even less
impressive as the corporate media
continues to whittle him and his big hands
But what will the prospects be after four years of Clinton’s police
and security state, imperial wars without end, austerity for working
people, and free money bonuses for Wall Street? Come 2020, the
conditions – as the US heads into a deeper and more damaging recession
– for an even more ominous and threatening rightist reaction will be
created by Clinton’s neoliberal agenda. The lesser-of-two-evils
adherents will again admonish us to re-elect Clinton for fear that an
even more dangerous demagogue is running against her.
Wild Horses: Breaking with the Two-Party Duopoly
Every four years the American people are treated to a beauty contest,
euphemistically called elections, where only two billionaire-sponsored
contestants are allowed to compete, thanks to the exclusively private Commission on Presidential Debates
. Little wonder that someone as unpopular as Hillary Clinton
will win on the basis of (I’m not making this up) congeniality, because
her recognized opponent in this dichotomized universe of two-party
politics is Trump. Bottom line, Clinton’s biggest asset is Trump.
So the choice dictated by with the lesser-of-two-evils strategy is
either Big Sister or Big Hands, because it’s a two-horse race. But now
is the time to vote for someone who reflects our politics and begin the
protracted process of building an opposition movement outside the two
the Green Party presidential candidate succinctly sums it up: “[voting
for] the lesser evil paves the way for the greater evil.”