Monday, November 7, 2016

Why I've Decided to Vote for Hillary Clinton Tomorrow

This election season has been long, stressful, and depressing for me. Eighteen months and a week ago today I was filled with an excitement that I have never felt before in politics when Bernie Sanders announced that he had decided to run for the Democratic Party's nomination as President. This man, the longest-serving Independent in congressional history, knew that in order to get a platform from which to push his progressive agenda, he needed to play within the two-party system that dominates our national politics.
I donated more money to Senator Sanders' primary campaign than all my previous political contributions combined, and I put more time into volunteering for his campaign (though admittedly I did not do much) than I have for any other political campaign in my life. I was genuinely optimistic about the possibilities for our country last summer, and it showed in the way I interacted with people, the quality of my work, and the organization I brought to my own personal life, as well.
When the debates began, I was hopeful that the favorable field the Democratic establishment had provided for Secretary Clinton would be ineffective at preventing the surge of hopeful populism that caught me up along with so many others. I was sure that her support in the South was overstated, and that young and disillusioned citizens would break out of their malaise and stop letting the old and middle-aged make all the decisions for them.
As winter turned into spring, I began to see that my hopes were unlikely to be satisfied. Although I remain suspicious of possible electronic machine rigging in certain precincts, especially in the South, I know that aside from an immeasurable and inestimable (and therefore not useful for consideration at this point) effect different results may have had on subsequent primaries, Clinton's lead in the states where that issue arose was such that she would have had a commanding lead regardless.
As Clinton's victory in the Democratic primary became more certain, my optimism bled away, with little improvement brought by the progressive party platform or Clinton's adoption of some of Senator Sanders' bolder domestic policy proposals. The truth is I was never significantly troubled by Clinton's domestic policy, so her moves to adopt more progressive policies, while welcome, did little to address my concerns with her potential Presidency.
I remain seriously concerned with the foreign policy that another Clinton Administration will pursue. Throughout the general election, Clinton and her surrogates have relentlessly and (in my view, irresponsibly) accused Russian of state-sponsored cyber warfare and the "weaponization of Wikileaks." Instead of addressing the contents of the released emails (which are, let's face it, very boring for the most part and hardly the "smoking gun" that Senator Sanders' most dissatisfied supporters paint them to be), they pretend they are irrelevant because they are the fruits of this supposed cyber warfare, rather than (correctly) asserting they are irrelevant because they don't tell us anything newsworthy that we didn't already know.
Clinton still supports a "No-Fly Zone" in eastern Syria, but refused to acknowledge, at the last debate, that enforcing such a policy would require American military personnel to fire upon Russian aircraft if those aircraft chose to violate the "No-Fly Zone." She was an instrumental force behind the Obama Administration's actions to depose Muammar Gaddafi, and she has stated unironically, "We came, we saw, he died." I think it's entirely possible that, once we elect Hillary Clinton, we will be engaged in full-scale war with Russia before the end of her first term. This terrifies me.
I'm voting for Hillary Clinton anyway.
I could go on for pages and pages about why Donald Trump shouldn't be elected President, but the truth of the matter is I never considered voting for him. Not even for a second. I never considered voting for Gary Johnson, either. I lived through his administration in New Mexico, and I wouldn't wish that upon America; nor do I want to have any part in helping the Libertarian Party achieve the threshold for accessing the Presidential Campaign Fund.

I did seriously consider voting for Jill Stein, however. She has been unfairly attacked by supporters of Hillary Clinton who are worried about splitting the progressive vote and allowing Trump to win. I voted for her in 2012, and I support a huge swath of the Green Party's platform. I want them to be a serious national party; they aren't one, though. They have only about 100 members in elected office anywhere in the country, the vast majority in California, and none of their members are in state legislatures, state-level executive positions, or any federal elected positions. They're not going to become a serious national party this year, either. Stein's polling average has been hovering around 2% for months, and third-party candidates basically never outperform their polls.
Another reason I seriously considered voting for Jill Stein is because I wanted to send a message to the Democratic Party that they need to take progressive issues seriously. Fortunately, I live in New York, a state that allows me to do just that. It hasn't always been the case that third parties were as shut out of the political process as they are today. Before 1888, elections nationwide allowed without restriction a system called fusion, which permitted multiple political parties to nominate the same candidate for a particular office. This is one part of the system that contributed to the robust participation of multiple parties in the early part of our nation's history.
The system was not without its problems, of course. Because the parties printed their own ballots for voters to put in the ballot box, there was substantial room for voter intimidation and ballot stuffing. Avoiding these problems was one of the primary reasons the United States switched to the Australian ballot in 1888. An added benefit of adopting the Australian ballot, though, was the (at the time) unprecedented power it gave to the government to control who was eligible for office. Starting with Republicans in the North who commanded a plurality of support but were vulnerable to a fusion ticket of Democrats and Populists or other third parties, states began to forbid political parties from nominating people outside their party for particular offices. Now 43 states and the District of Columbia make fusion practically impossible. Some states allow open ticket voting for President, but without fusion for lower offices, the effect of that policy is minimal.
In seven states - Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, and Vermont - fusion tickets are possible, not only for the President but for all partisan offices. In New York, a major progressive party exists that actually has a substantial effect on state politics: the Working Families Party. They endorsed Senator Sanders in the Democratic Primary, and they work tirelessly to support progressive causes like increased minimum wages and paid sick leave. This year for President they have endorsed Hillary Clinton.
This means I can contribute to Clinton's popular vote lead over Donald Trump without voting for the Democratic Party. It also means that I can vote for a third party that has a meaningful chance of effecting political change, even if only at the local level. I'm voting for Hillary Clinton on the Working Families Party line.
If you live in Connecticut or New York, I encourage you to do the same. If you live in Delaware, Idaho, Missisippi, South Carolina, or Vermont, and you plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, please vote for her on the line of a party other than the Democratic Party. If you live in any of the other 43 states or the District of Columbia, vote your conscience, but starting Wednesday, push your state legislators to legalize fusion voting, to enact ranked-choice voting, to reduce ballot-access requirements, and to take any other actions that are necessary and effective to encourage higher voter turnout and more robust political involvement and debate.
For more information on fusion voting, check out this article from the Brennan Center (PDF).