In recent days, as the US election season has heated up, there has been a small but getting louder sentiment among certain leftists and anarchists suggesting that if Bernie Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination and decides not to run as a third party candidate, then voting for Donald Trump is better than voting for Hillary Clinton. This idea is beyond wrong. Voting for DonaldTrump is not a reasonable response if Hillary Clinton is his opponent. I am not even sure I consider it a sane response.
Clinton is definitely an imperial warmonger, but Trump is no anti-imperialist. Clinton has rarely met a member of the 1% she didn’t like, but Trump has been a member of the 1% since before his birth. So, obviously he is no anti-capitalist. Furthermore, Trump has no problem encouraging the most reactionary elements of his base to act on their racist, sexist and otherwise hateful impulses. If he is elected, the possibility that an openly racist and even fascist government will be running the United States becomes more of a possibility than at any time since Richard Nixon.
That is not a laughing matter or a concept to be taken lightly. Nor is it something that should be welcomed by leftists hoping to heighten the contradictions of our current crisis. Even if Donald Trump is not a fascist (and that is a question not yet answered), there are many of his strongest supporters who are. Even if Donald Trump is not an out-and-out racist (and that is a question not yet answered), there are many, many of his supporters, many more than those who openly call themselves racist, who are. Even if Donald Trump is not a warmonger (and that is also a question not yet answered), many of his supporters are all about war and imperial domination. If Trump is not a misogynist (and I genuinely think he has proven he is), chances are good that most of his supporters are. As noted above, Trump is a super-capitalist and no anti-imperialist. He has also proven he hates Muslims, detests most immigrants that aren’t named Ivana, and has little regard for civil rights and civil liberties.
When a leftist tells me they are voting for Donald Trump to prevent Clinton’s corporate neoliberal warmongering into the White House, it says to me they are giving up. By suggesting that putting a figure even more authoritarian than Clinton in the White House to keep her out, they are letting the 1% set the agenda and the terms of the debate. Indeed, they are taking the easy way out, even though they are very uncertain of the outcome. When the choice is between worser and the worst, then it is beyond time to revive the third choice: the choice of organizing mass resistance to the system that insists that the only choices are the ones they provide us with.
That time has come. As recent events along the campaign trail make clear, there are already thousands of US residents who have figured that out. From its small beginnings in Massachusetts to its coming out protests in Vermont to the recent massive protest that forced the cancellation of Donald Trump’s hate rally in Chicago, the beginnings of a movement against hate, fascism and the system that fosters it is well underway. In addition, the growing support for Bernie Sanders also indicates that there are large numbers of US citizens who want radical left-leaning change. So, why the hell would anyone suggest voting for a right wing demagogue as a means of bringing about that change?
I have leftist and anarchist acquaintances who tell me that a Trump-occupied White House would sharpen the contradictions of our current crisis and bring the system down. As a friend of mine commented on Facebook about this possibility, “How did that strategy work in Germany from 1928-1933?” I hope you get the point. There are also more recent examples: Italy and Germany during the 1970s and 1980s when certain leftist groups engaged in armed struggle hoping to bring about a fascist state that would cause the workers and students in their respective countries to rebel.
Instead, mainstream Left parties joined with capitalist parties and created liberal authoritarian regimes, much like the one we currently exist under in the United States. In other words, although there existed a fair amount of support for the demands of the radical Left in those nations, their attempts to hasten that change without doing the hard and patient work of organizing not only brought down the wrath of the State on them and other radical left organizations, it also arguably set back the possibility of anti-capitalist change.
An even more recent example of this idea can be found among those who argued that having George Bush in the White House would spur a broad movement against war and capitalism. Although this occurred, the sad fact is that too much of that movement’s leadership led the rank and file into the arms of the neoliberal campaign of Barack Obama.
I don’t think that most of those who suggest voting for Trump instead of Clinton fall into the category discussed in the previous paragraph. Instead, it seems that their disgust for Clinton’s known “qualities” and politics has led them to consider taking an action that might grant a reasonably unknown member of the ruling elites power in an arena with much more weight than any of his previous roles in the marketplace and the media.
While perhaps understandable, taking this action (of voting for Trump) is at best trading a known devil (Clinton) for an unknown one. At worst, and more importantly, it is essentially giving up on the most important element of any chance at radical and left-progressive social change–the people. The Left and those who support their vision of social change need to get off their asses and do the hard work called organizing, during the presidential campaign and, even more importantly, after the election, no matter who wins.