By Chris Lowe (September 22, 2016)
Since last year I have toyed with the idea of pursuing a “safe state” strategy if Bernie Sanders did not get the Democratic nomination, i.e. finding ways to support Hillary Clinton in swing states with money or phone banking, while voting for Jill Stein in Oregon because the Green Party platform is basically social democratic in ways I mainly support, and because I do object to the constriction of our political debates by our version of “the two party system.”
However, the Stein campaign’s strategy is to only criticize Donald Trump by linking him to Hillary Clinton and criticizing both of them simultaneously in the same ways, without calling out the distinctiveness of the evils he represents. Worse, many vocalizations of Stein supporting friends and participants in post-Sanders groups go further, criticizing Clinton exclusively and *never* criticizing Trump, or in some cases, actually arguing that Clinton is worse and more dangerous than Trump.
Thus, the Stein campaign and her supporters have convinced me that to support Stein in any way would be to abandon fundamental commitments that define even minimal progressivism for me.
If people want to be against the “duopoly” of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, which considerably share neoliberal economics and militarism, I can understand that. I share the criticism of the dominance of neoliberal economics, entirely in the RP and to a large degree in the DP, and of bipartisan U.S. militarism and warfare. I see parties as less important as a focus for changing them than many anti-capitalist and anti-“corporatist” friends.
I don’t understand how supporting Jill Stein would change the duopoly in the least.
I do understand that many people think or hope it might, somehow, and respect that motive for supporting Stein.
What I don’t understand, accept, or respect is ignoring that the duopoly analysis involves TWO parties, and that Donald Trump represents the worst forces and values in RP side of the duopoly, which need to be directly confronted on their own terms, by themselves.
Trump promotes an aggressive racist and misogynist authoritarian nationalism at home. He makes alliance with the anti-woman and anti-LGBTQ religious right, for prominent example in elevating the hard religious right Mike Pence to his VP candidate. Trump also promotes “mainstream” Republican neoliberalism on economics including massive health, safety and ecological deregulation proposals, reversal of expanded social insurance in health care, and aggressive expansion of fossil fuel extraction, exports, and domestic use. His opposition to the TPP is an outlier, and his main statement about that is that he would negotiate “a better deal” for U.S. companies — not seek trade that protects worker rights and the ecology, both of which are anathema to him.
Trump’s mobilization of authoritarian nationalism affects his approach to international affairs, which is not isolationist contrary to some wishful thinking on the left and MSM narratives. He is not anti intervention. He criticizes Democrats for weakness and poor interventions, but wants more. He wants to be freed of restraints that respect for European concerns and Japanese and South Korean concerns might impose on him. He proposes a hostile and aggressive attitude toward Mexico and expanded U.S. warfare in Syria and Iraq.
If Jill Stein were running a campaign that was based on “oppose neoliberalism and militarism in all their forms,” aggressively identifying Trump as a neoliberal, an authoritarian, a bigot, and a warmonger, all of which are true, and making a case for how opposing the duopoly on both sides of it by supporting her offers a path to a better future, I could at least consider supporting her.
But her actual stance of in effect saying that Clinton is a bigger threat than Trump, which is both a lie, and undermines the “duopoly” argument and Stein’s sincerity about it, and the adoption among far too many pro-Stein supporters of that position even more overtly — Stein at least has the grace to be a little murky about it — makes it impossible for me even to consider supporting her, as I once did consider.
There is NOTHING progressive about giving Trump a pass.