Inside the Mind of a Bernie-or-Bust Democrat
Sarah Silverman says I am ridiculous, and my friends say even worse. But I'm not crazy or rash. Here is why a 53 year-old lifelong Democrat would not vote for Hillary under any circumstances:
I was a Democrat in 1976, before I was old enough to vote. I have voted a straight Democratic ticket in every federal, state, and local election since I was 19 years old (1982). I have never missed an election. I have never voted for anyone who was not a Democrat.
And I have not been an armchair Democrat, either. My first political rally was for Walter Mondale. In 2004 I spent a month canvassing for John Kerry. In 2006 I phone-banked so the Democrats could re-take the Senate. I have given to the DNC regularly. I have chided those who supported third party candidates.
So when I say I will not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances, that is a strong statement.
Almost ten years ago I wrote a diary on Daily Kos calling for Democrats to focus first and foremost on structural reforms to Democracy -- Honest Discourse, Fair Elections, and No Corruption. Unless our political life held these values highest, I said, nothing else could be accomplished.
But the DNC's primary election was a festival of dishonesty, election rigging, and corruption. It used to seem that the Republicans were the lie-cheat-steal party, and the Democrats were above it. But now the DNC sponsors this kind of civic filth, and then denies it in the face of obvious proof.
So I disagree with those who think we need to support Clinton to defeat Trump. There is nothing worse in politics than dishonesty, corruption, and rigged elections. In those circumstances, democracy is already gone, and the worst is bound to occur sooner or later. There is nothing Trump could do to our country worse than making our public life dishonest, corrupt, and undemocratic, except maybe if he were a warmonger who would oppress minorities, commit war crimes, serve corporate interests, and magnify wealth inequality. But Clinton already does all those things. At most it's a difference of degree, and I would argue a smaller degree than most people realize.
I am not saying that Clinton is worse than Trump, or Clinton is as bad as Trump. What I am saying is that they are two different flavors of the same civic toxin, and we'll die either way.
So I am ready to resist.
This is not as sudden a development as it seems. During the past eight years, Obama has given us great photo shoots, but just crumbs on structural and economic issues. Compared to eight years ago, wealth inequality is worse. Election integrity is worse. Our criminal justice system is untended. Corporate tax shelters have not been closed. Big Banks have not been broken up. Etc.
Here is where someone usually blames the Republican Congress. It's pretty to think that's our only problem. However, there are all kinds of things that Obama could have done on his own but has refused to do. For example, he has not required campaign donation disclosures for federal contractors. He could do that himself. He has not stopped federal enforcement of Marijuana laws. He could do that himself. He has not freed American political prisoners Leonard Peltier or Don Siegelman. He could do that himself. He has not pardoned every American in prison for petty Marijuana possession; he could do that himself. He has not directed the IRS to close down offshore tax shelters. He could do that himself. He has not pledged to veto TPP. He could do that himself. He could have vetoed the law that pre-empted Vermont's GMO labeling requirements, all by himself. He could have appointed an Education Secretary not in the pocket of corporate interests. He has authority right now to break up the big banks. He could do that himself. He could have closed Guantanamo, ended indefinite detention, and not allowed the torture of Chelsea Manning. And of course no one is making him wage illegal drone wars. He did not have to punish whistleblowers more aggressively than the Bush administration. He did not have to reauthorize the Patriot Act, or make permanent the Bush Tax Cuts, or step up government surveillance.
The Democratic Party tells a great story, but it's a con. They always find some reason that corporate power and the 1% had to win in the end.
Until the people stop allowing themselves to be scammed, the scam will continue. The only way to win this game is to stop playing. Don't think of the USA as Democracy -- there is no conceivable way that a democratic system would nominate the two most reviled candidates in history. Even high-integrity Democrat Jimmy Carter agrees: "America has no functioning democracy at this moment."
If Americans en mass reject this two-corrupt-party scam, we might be able to re-craft our government in some way that would be more civil, less exploitive, less violent, and more just.
But we'll have to all hang together, as Ben Franklin reminded us. If a bunch of us, but not most of us, decide that we want one more round of being lied to, cheated, and ripped off by Clinton's corporate controllers, then things will go either bad or worse.
I wish more people were unwilling to settle for those options, when future generations, and indeed the planet itself, is at stake.