We have to keep in mind how being careful can evolve our thinking and how carelessness can devolve it. Committing ourselves to a course rarely happens as a straight line. This is unfortunate, primarily because folks get discouraged. But we have to redirect ourselves all the time. Compromise in communities is adaptive redirection so that we can keep communication open and improve our chances for liberation. It’s slow, frustrating, and filled with disappointments. But eschewing all compromise guarantees stranding us in confirmation bias, trapping folks in stasis, increasing frustrations, and deepening disappointment.
So before I share my reasoning for why I will caste a vote for Hillary Clinton despite recognizing that she could be far, far more progressive, here is the great video of her coming out to share the stage for a minute with Barack Obama, who had just given one of the best speeches of his public career 12 years to the day after he spoke at the 2004 DNC and became a national name.
So, let me be clear that I am reposting the next few paragraphs from a Facebook post that my acquaintances and friends in the ether found helpful. I follow with an opinion that a few of them found persuasive. I am really not posting this to act as more “fear” to move folks to vote for someone they do not see as a true viable choice. But taking these things into consideration are how I arrived at why I will cast my vote as I will cast it.
I do believe Americans need to understand why there is a interconnected need to take over one of the major extant parties as well as to start a movement to amend the constitution so that the basis of our government recognizes the realities of political parties.
So here goes:
The two party system is a historical convenience that has become lasting custom. But more than that, it is the de facto organizing tool for our political structure. However, it is extraconstitutional–maybe even a state of exception. The constitution does not recognize political parties. Nonetheless, because of the power contained by two parties “roughly” balancing each other out over the last 150 years, we have reached the point where most folks running cannot win without the support of one or the other. There are exceptions that prove the rule, but on the whole, the parties control access to power.
There are two major ways that they control access to power: They get folks in office at the state level who get to draw the districts for the House of Representatives. Also at the state level party functionaries can ensure that the electoral college allotment for a state goes to whomever gets a plurality. (In all but two states, the person who garners the most votes gets ALL the electoral votes for the state.)
Both of these work together to ensure that the exceptional position of the two parties never finds real challenge from a third party.
Here is how: By ensuring that the plurality gets all the electoral votes, a third party would have to deliver more votes than most third party candidates have been able to deliver since Theodore Roosevelt ran under the banner of the Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party.
Furthermore, should a tie in the electoral college result from a third party candidate receiving enough votes to cast the two party nominees neck and neck, things go the House to decide President and to the Senate to decide Vice President. But the two parties in their state level guise have drawn the districts of who sits in the House. And each state delegation will only get to cast one vote–all members of the delegation caucus and make their decision as to who will get that vote.
No third party candidate will have a representative voice in the House or the Senate. The few independents who exist in either chamber caucus with one or another of the extraconstitutional parties. And as can be seen by each state delegation casting one vote in the House, one or two non-2-partiers in a delegation would only have the ability to argue for the third party candidate before the Democrats or Republicans cast for a traditional party candidate.
Yes, there are states that force their delegations to vote as the state citizens voted–that is, if Utah–which seems to be the dream for some libertarians getting an electoral win–goes for Gary Johnson, even if it is primarily Republican representatives, they will have to vote for Johnson. (Assuming Utah is one of those states that requires the state delegation to vote as the plurality of citizens voted.)
In both the House and the Senate tie-breaker elections, a candidate must receive 50%+1 in order to be declared the winner. Even in a scenario where delegations cast votes in the House such that a third party candidate ensures no clear winner, there has to be a president. So… the Speaker of the House–who is always the leader of one of the two parties–becomes Interim President until a negotiation can be reached to declare a winner–who will be either Democrat or Republican. (Note that this would mean in the current election cycle–probably–that Paul Ryan would become Interim President while Pence takes his place as Vice President given the structure alliances in the two chambers.)
Now I switch to my personal opinion.
Having laid all of that out and thought about it ad nauseum for the last two months, I submit that a third party can never act as more that a spoiler until we have real constitutional reform that recognizes the reality of political parties dominating our electoral system. Until we make changes that take away political redistricting and electoral distribution from the folks at the state level or until we create at the state level viable non-Democrat and Non-Republican third parties, voting for a candidate from outside the two parties in this election–or any–is a vote for dissatisfaction with the leadership and direction of these two extraconstitutional political unions who have control of the electoral system. It does not lead to changing the real conditions.
It is for this reason that Bernie Sanders ran as a Democrat. It is for this reason that Bernie Sanders now supports Hillary Clinton. And it is for these reasons that Bernie Sanders wants the folks who campaigned with him and for him to stay the course with the Democratic Party while working to change things at the local and state level.
I would hope most of those I know recognize I am not the kind of person who says, you have to be a part of the institution to change the institution. Sometimes you have to start a new institution–I say that all the time. But political parties are not actually institutions. They are the controllers of institutions by way of being the crafters of ideologies and the benefactors to supporters.
If what you want is the power to affect change at the national policy and state policy level, walking away from the party that you have the chance to dominate over the next decade weakens the progressive position in the long run. So I will follow Bernie’s lead on sticking it out with the party we might have the chance to reform.
What I see is that the public view of Hillary Clinton does not seem to be correlated to “scandals” or issues of character or whether she murdered Vince Foster. No, the one thing that seems to most negatively and consistently affect public perception of Hillary is any attempt by her to seek power. Once she actually has that power her polls go up again. But whenever she asks for it her numbers drop like a manhole cover.