Stop Hoping For a Hillary Landslide

Will pro-Hillary progressives go along with a belligerent Clinton White House? It’s a fair question, given how quickly the last decade’s anti-war movement fell nearly silent after Barack Obama’s victory in 2008.

In an Oct. 25 essay, former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich warned readers of The Nation about the influence of a “bipartisan foreign-policy elite [that] recommends the next president show less restraint than President Obama… As this year’s presidential election comes to a conclusion, the Washington ideologues are regurgitating the same bipartisan consensus that has kept America at war since 9/11 and made the world a decidedly more dangerous place.”

Ms. Clinton’s own record and the endorsements she has received from Bush-Cheney neocons suggest we’ll see a shift from President Obama’s recent caution back to the war-machine polices of the last decade and even the last century. In 2017, that’ll mean a renewed Cold War with Russia with a possible standoff over Syria, deeper U.S. military involvement in Muslim nations in which civilians will suffer most (including more aid for Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen), and unconditional support for Israel’s violent suppression of Palestinian human rights.

If voters hand Hillary Clinton a landslide victory on Nov. 8, we can count on all of the above. The landslide will be a mandate for more permanent war, more favors for Wall Street, more privatization of the public sphere, more of the racist War on Drugs that feeds mass incarceration, more pipelines and fracking, more half-hearted action against climate change.

A landslide will give Ms. Clinton no motivation to repair the Affordable Care Act’s deep defects. She’ll feel no obligation to maintain her campaign-season opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she promoted vigorously as Secretary of State.

Ms. Clinton will interpret the landslide as a license to discard the modest populist concessions she made to keep Bernie Sanders’ supporters inside the Democratic Party fold. Her selection of Tim Kaine as running mate and the influence of her reps in shaping the 2016 Dem platform tell us she always intended to stifle Bernie’s political revolution after his exit.

Robert Reich and other liberal pundits want us to help elect Ms. Clinton in November and then build a movement that can exert intense pressure on her administration to do the right thing.

Don’t count on it. When politicians can take a movement’s votes for granted, they don’t have to worry about the movement giving them hell. Decades of knee-jerk votes for corporate-cash Democrats have turned the Democratic Party into a graveyard for progressive ideals and agenda.

Mr. Reich insists that our immediate priority must be Donald Trump’s defeat. It’s hard to argue with that.

Mr. Trump isn’t only a dangerous buffoon, he’s almost certainly going to lose.

From the point of view of progressives, however, a Trump defeat shouldn’t be enough. The left will have no clout in the Hillary Clinton Administration unless Dems know they’re threatened with a revolt.

Greens and Libertarians, of course, are seeking the maximum percentage for their presidential tickets. If either or both draw at least five percent of the popular vote on Nov. 8, their respective 2020 presidential nominees will receive millions in federal funding.

If either or both alternative parties can move towards major-party status, we won’t have to face a choice limited to two candidates like Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump ever again.

Why shouldn’t progressives, including Hillary supporters on the left, want an alternative option? They’ve gotten almost nothing in return for decades of devotion to the Democratic Party.

Competition from a genuine progressive party with major-party status would change the political landscape and reverse the country’s slide to the right under the leadership of both Ds and Rs. In 1916, one hundred years ago, five parties were represented in Congress. If three or four parties were seated in Congress in 2016, it would signal that the current major parties are no longer each others sole rivals.

Green Party leaders have said that five percent or more for nominee Jill Stein and running mate Ajamu Baraka won’t only build their party, it’ll make Ms. Clinton and the revolving-door operatives who staff the next administration pay close attention to voters who found themselves marginalized (again) after Bernie Sanders’ defeat for the Democratic nomination.

On Inauguration Day 2017, we’ll watch the new president carry troubling baggage into the White House, not only the Wikileaks revelations and security lapses, but also a record as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State that often looks more R than D. Progressives stuck in the two-party mindset will pretend that the only opposition that counts is the one coming from GOP Hillary haters.

For young people, the two-party racket promises a disturbing future regardless of who occupies the White House. They’ll have to deal with a bipartisan legacy of deteriorating quality of life, increasing personal debt, exported jobs, eroded rights and freedoms, the school-to-prison pipeline for black and brown kids, lawless militarism, and social breakdown as the planet heats up.

In the context of the climate crisis, the difference between the GOP and Dems like Ms. Clinton is the difference between driving off a cliff at 90 mph and driving off a cliff at 55 mph.

Progressives and environmentalists alarmed by global warming should be begging Ms. Clinton to adopt a plan like the Green New Deal. (Confidential to Bill McKibben: Why dismiss the Green Party, when merely mentioning Jill Stein scares Democrats more than all the warnings about rising greenhouse-gas and sea levels?)

We can stop fretting over Orange Hitler versus Grandma Nixon. 2016 has handed us an unprecedented opportunity to vote our hopes instead of our fears. We can prove to Democratic politicians (Republicans too) that votes must be earned instead of taken for granted. We can deny the victor a mandate for policies that serve corporate cronies instead of the general welfare of the people and the health of the planet.

Elections in a democracy give voters a chance to select the candidates who best represent their ideals and interests. The right to vote is reduced when voters are intimidated into believing that only two candidates are legitimate. The power of the vote is weakened further when a candidate knows she can take votes for granted. Voters on the left — and all Americans — can only benefit from having more choices on the ballot.

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Scott McLarty is media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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