A Very Angry Vote

Originally posted the day Roxanne and I voted early. It is maintained on our home page as a reminder that we can never again accept anything less than a progressive agenda that will generate enthusiasm and commitment across parties. A

 A vote is not a valentine: It is not saying I love you, I support you, or I trust you. Following this recommendation you will find a slew of opportunities to make a difference in the NM legislative races. I encourage everyone to find a race that resonates for you, and pitch in.

Hillary supporters, this note is not intended for you. You know how you are voting. This note is for those of us who have wrestled for months over what to do on November 8, and for those of us who decided long ago that they could not vote for Hillary and would either vote their conscience or stay home.

I don’t tend to advise people on how to vote, but given the frightening tightening of the race, the implications of a Trump presidency, and NM apparently now being in play, I am going to weigh in. Vote for Hillary Clinton. And this from someone who worked like hell for Bernie, voted for Nader, and worked for and voted for Jesse Jackson without any hesitation. Please hear me out.

Before I give my reasons, I want to reference two articles in The Nation magazine that I read this morning and what I heard on Wednesday from Angela Davis at the Lensic. I was stunned to hear her say precisely what I had written earlier that day, something I also wrote to you three days after the Convention and that is fleshed out in more detail today: “When you vote for someone, you are not voting for them because you believe in them, like them, trust them, or feel they share your priorities. You are voting for the conditions under which you want to fight for your priorities.”  I don’t think any of us want to be seeking a better world in a neo-Fascist Trump regime, but if too many of us vote our heart and not strategically, that is the environment in which we will be working.

The first Nation article by Rebecca Solnit, The 2000 Election Unleased Disaster on the World.  We Can’t Let That Happen Again,  is a brilliant analysis of the 2000 election, the repercussions of Bush’s tenure, and the parallels and implications for 2016.  Every word is worth reading, a link is provided here, and I will insert excerpts from the article throughout my comments in blue font. The second article by Jumanne D. Williams who is by a NYC City Council member and Bernie delegate furious for being forced to make the choice we all face is entitled Sanders Supporters, It Is Infuriating To Be Told We Must Vote For Hillary. But We Do.  His commentary will be in red. Here is my thinking on why a strategic progressive vote is a vote for Hillary.

polar-bearThe primary reason I am recommending that you vote for Hillary is that a Trump presidency would absolutely lead to unbridled oil and coal extraction and very likely the end of any hope of combating climate change. When I woke up Tuesday morning and saw the continued tightening of the polls, that thought — the likely end of all hope for a future, a permanently closed door for my kids and grandkids — caused my stomach to turn and tears to come to my eyes. The Supreme Court wouldn’t even matter any more, although it too would be an unmitigated disaster for decades.

What we do now on climate will matter in 10,000 years. It matters to all the life in the sea. It matters to the poorest and most vulnerable people around the planet, who are already being hit hardest by catastrophic weather events, from the hurricane in Haiti to crop failure in drought-stricken India. It matters to the people who will be born in 10, 100, 1,000 years from now — if people are born 1,000 years from now.    

I owe it to my kids and their kids to do all I can to prevent the end of hope. I have no illusions about Hillary Clinton. She is that which many idealists simply can’t abide: the lesser of two evils. I am not voting for her because I trust or like her. I am voting for her to sustain some possibility of hope for the future. When the polls showed a 10-point margin and a likely landslide I advised people who asked: Vote your conscience.  But that is not the situation now.

The Gore administration wouldn’t have been the high-water mark of my hope. It would’ve just been a retaining wall against some of the worst that could—and did—happen and maybe a purveyor of some decent things and an administration we could’ve fought and sometimes beaten. Sometimes, the lesser of two evils is a lot less evil. Sometimes that’s a dismissive term for a mixed bag. The differences matter. On March 28, 2001, Bush announced that he would abandon the Kyoto Protocol on climate change that the Clinton administration had signed. Earlier that month, Bush announced that he would not regulate power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the main climate change–causing gas, despite a campaign promise to do so. His administration prevented California from enacting its own powerful emissions regulations (Obama made them a nationwide standard shortly after taking office). That spring, months before 9/11, pretty much everything was under attack, from abortion rights to environmental standards. I felt paralyzed. How do you react when they’re going after everything you care about at once?
This is the election where an actual major party candidate, who is within striking distance from the White House, was just endorsed by The Crusader, the official newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan….

As bad as 2001 was, 2017 could be far worse. So, no matter how strongly you mistrust HRC and are livid with the DNC, I ask you to consider again the quote cited above. “When you vote for someone, you are not voting for them because you believe in them, like them, trust them or feel they share your priorities. You are voting for the conditions under which you want to fight for your priorities.” Or as Rebecca Solnit put it:

I want an end to patriarchy and capitalism and racism and a beginning of experiments in real and direct democracy. We can get a little closer by elections, or at least not get further away on every front, but the work doesn’t begin and end with elections—and it doesn’t necessarily work through them. That’s part of why I think of voting as a chess move, not a valentine. It’s just a little part of the picture of how we make the world.

Or as the African American taxi driver in Philadelphia during the convention described it: “I don’t care how bad Hillary is, if Trump wins, I’m dead. I don’t matter. It’s over. I’m too old and too tired to fight that.”

I think I am with the cab drive. Under a Trump presidency, progressives like us would be like wolves howling alone in the wild, and even if he heard us, he’d hardly care. And under a Trump presidency, the wilds would become a very hostile place to be.

In 2000, Gore carried NM by only 336 votes, less than 1/10th of 1% of the total vote. So your vote matters.  Please use it strategically.  I don’t think we want to be reassembling on November 9 to plot what we do under a Trump regime.

The Democratic party, which at least espouses our beliefs, put us in a huge thick box and then tells us we have a duty to prevent the worst from occurring. Vote for a deeply flawed candidate, or welcome in the racist/xenophobic/sexist/misogynist/fascist incarnate to the White House. Now that’s not fair, damn it! We didn’t set this up, in fact, we did everything we could to prevent this, and now you dare box us in! Arrrghh!!!…
So please hold your nose and vote for Hillary and then on November 9, we begin the advocacy to ensure she doesn’t become the President we feared when many of us worked for Bernie.

After this election…  we can use the frustration we feel now to push as hard and as forcefully as we can. We can push with a well-deserved sense of righteous indignation. And if that doesn’t work, in four years, that box…we will have torn it to pieces!

Please share this with friends you know in swing states. And there are an increasing number of them.

There is much to do. If you want ongoing updates on NM legislation and policy initiatives, go to www.retaketheroundhouse.org and sign up for two blogs weekly.


Paul Gibson
Coordinator, Retake the Roundhouse

Categories: Actions, State Elections

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3 replies

  1. Hi Paul – I’ve been reading all your very, VERY many emails, blogs, etc. I reread this Nov 4th post before responding. I, too, supported Bernie. I voted – enthusiastically- for Secretary Clinton. Your “hold your nose”
    comment made me angry the first time I read it, and again this morning. Shunning – dismissing as stupid –
    anyone who embraced her is insulting. While I was doing grassroots work – 5+ years – working** on behalf of small pork farmers against factory meat producers, Con-Agra, et al. (I had a farm in Minnnesota for 10 years), the most powerful lesson I learned is that self righteousness, purism, alienates people, and frequently alienates the very people for whom one is fighting. I sincerely wish “your group” success. Unfortunately, very people you are trying to help may drift away or never become involved.

    **with a small group, did research, gathered EVERY publicly available document, provided photographic evidence, testified before state legislative committees, the attorney general, around the state at local government and local sustainable farm meetings. (An interesting side note: the MPCA *magically* destroyed ALL their documents – poof – they just disappeared – after I testified about systemic bribery in their Agency. So, I know a little about working successfully – AND unsuccessfully – with people very different from me)

    • Thank you for the very thoughtful comment, Pat. Please note that the date of that post was Nov 4 and I and most all of the pundits were expecting that the person progressives would be pressuring to adhere to campaign promises was HRC, not Trump. Please note that almost immediately the tone of the blog shifted with an emphasis on listening to and learning from the many Trump supporters who did not vote for his sexism, racism, or xenophobia. That is also why leadership first and later all of our volunteers will be trained in communication skills, the use of moral language, and an understanding of the “frames”(Lakoff) through which people receive, hear or deflect information. People who push back and offer thoughtful comments and criticism are badly needed in this movement, so please hang in there, pay attention to our tone and approach and comment freely. Thank you very much.


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