Over at The Daily Banter, Chez Pazienza called me an "idiot."
Well, not me personally. His article was about people like me, though, who support Bernie Sanders and will never vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election, no matter who her opponent is. The so-called "Bernie or Bust" crowd. That's me.
The gist of the article is that Hillary will have this thing sewn up between Super Tuesday plus her superdelegates and she's far preferable to a President Trump. So not voting for Hillary equals a President Trump and letting that happen means I'm "a goddamn moron" who deserves not one "ounce of respect" for throwing my "little pouty tantrum" like a "petulant child."
Calling me names is a great way to get me to support the Democrat, bro. But a better way is to use reason.
I've voted Democrat all my life because I hold progressive positions on civil rights, health care, foreign policy, criminal justice and the environment. That gives me plenty of reasons to not vote Republican.
1) I don't vote Republican because I don't want to see more US soldiers dying in the Middle East for regime change.
2) I don't vote Republican because they'll put the same megabanks in charge of Treasury that destroyed our economy the last time they were in charge of Treasury.
3) I don't vote Republican because I've always supported gay people's civil liberties and the Republicans who've barely come around to supporting gay marriage this decade are doing so only because the polling now supports it.
4) I don't vote Republican because they keep telling me they "need more research" to believe cannabis is a medicine.
5) I don't vote Republican because they institute terrible "free trade" deals that destroy jobs and wages.
6) I don't vote Republican because they support the increase of fracking worldwide, an environmentally disastrous policy.
7) I don't vote Republican because they don't believe America can be like every other modern democracy and provide universal health care coverage.
8) I don't vote Republican because they enjoy and exploit the campaign finance shenanigans made legal by Citizens United.
9) I don't vote Republican because they think a $15 minimum wage is too high and at best it ought to only be $12.
10) I don't vote Republican because they endorse and approve of NSA's warrantless spying on American citizens.
11) I don't vote Republican because they created and supported the USA PATRIOT ACT that is used far more against drug "crimes" than terrorism.
12) I don't vote Republican because they believe that "the era of big government is over" and work to destroy welfare.
13) I don't vote Republican because they believe in being "tough on crime" to the point of supporting mass incarceration of mostly black and brown people.
14) I don't vote Republican because they use racist dog whistles like calling black kids "superpredators... that [we have to] bring to heel."
15) I don't vote Republican because they opposed closing Gitmo.
16) I don't vote Republican because they want to cut Social Security, or at the very least, refuse to consider lifting the income cap on contributions to make rich people pay their fair share.
17) I don't vote Republican because people with net worth that requires two or three commas to print don't understand what people like me go through living paycheck to paycheck.
18) I don't vote Republican because I can't stand privatized prisons and they take lots of campaign donations from them.
19) I don't vote Republican because if we're not going to have socialism for the poor, why should I support those who voted to bail out the big banks and refuse to break them up?
20) I don't vote Republican because they supported the bankruptcy bill that made it harder for poor working people to discharge debt, while their hyper-rich friends make use of bankruptcy restructuring all the time.
21) I don't vote Republican because they oppose reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act that would separate investment and commercial banking.
22) I don't vote Republican because they support the death penalty.
23) I don't vote Republican because they vote for stupid things like a border fence with Mexico.
24) I don't vote Republican because they get most of their campaign donations from the big banks, instead of typical Democratic sources like unions.
25) I don't vote Republican because they would lock up Edward Snowden and throw away the key.
Those are 25 pretty good reasons why we Democrats don't vote for Republicans, don't you think?
So why would we vote for Hillary Clinton, the Rockefeller Republican who exemplifies every one of those 25 statements?
If Donald Trump wins the presidency over Hillary Clinton, it's not the fault of people like me who won't vote for Republicans. It's the fault of the Democratic Party for nominating a Republican. For me, the horror of a four-year Trump term is less frightening than cementing in the Far Right / Center Right corporate duopoly in American politics created since Hillary's husband sold out Democratic principles on welfare, crime, race, labor, trade, drugs, and media.
Remember the tale of frogs in the pot of water? You turn the heat up slowly and they'll boil to death, but put them in an already boiling pot and they'll hop out. Donald Trump is the boiling pot and Hillary Clinton is the slow heat. A President Trump in 2016 equals a President Warren in 2020. A President Clinton in 2016 equals a re-elected Clinton in 2020 and the next milquetoast Obama-like speechifier in 2024 who abandons all his talk the minute he's inaugurated (remember Obama's promise to be the most transparent government ever, with live cameras covering debates on public option healthcare? Or closing Gitmo? Or "we're not going to be using Justice Department resources to go after [medical marijuana]"?)
Look, I've made all the arguments you're going to throw at me, Chez. But after Candidate Obama teased me with Hope & Change and left me with drone bombing, torturers and banksters running free, Romneycare, mass deportations, warrantless wiretapping, Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a neocon Secretary of State who now wants my vote, I have changed my mind.
I used to be like you, Chez -- practical, pragmatic. It's a two-party system. It sucks, but that's reality. You have to pick the less evil of the two. What about the Supreme Court?!? I've made all those arguments.
But then I saw what it got me. Picking the lesser of two evils allows the evil to become more evil and entices the good to become less good. Hillary Clinton is to the right of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, for gawdsakes! And Ted Cruz or Donald Trump are so far right of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush they can't be seen.
Strange how always picking evil has led to more evil, isn't it?
What I see now at four dozen years old is that any one presidential term isn't going to kill us. We survived eight years of George W. Bush, and though it did us a lot of harm and killed thousands of us, he didn't appoint himself dictator and abolish the Supreme Court or anything crazy. Democracy continued. In fact, he wrecked things so badly white people could even consider voting for an unknown black Kenyan socialist Muslim named "Hussein."
So, as I see it, before my political lifetime, we had Democrats who stood for the poor and voiceless against the Republicans who stood for the rich and powerful. The Democrats I think of as embodying that spirit are Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. It was the party of the people vs. the party of business. Labor vs. management.
It was a fine arrangement that provided the kind of balance necessary to create the great middle class prosperity that existed in the mid-20th century.
But since Bill Clinton came up with his "Third Way", our politics have become the party of Wall Street and Tech vs. the party of Wall Street and Oil. Bill Clinton's "the end of big government as we know it" and "3 strikes and you're out" policies drove a stake through any semblance of the Democratic Party representing the needs of the poor and voiceless.
With age I've developed perspective that this isn't about four-year presidential terms, but generational pendulum swings. Republicans and their Tea Party uprising have swung that pendulum as far right as they can because they demanded ideological purity from their candidates. Democrats have allowed that pendulum to swing by not offering solid Democratic alternatives, but caving in to offer Republican Lite alternatives.
It's time for our Tea Party uprising. But we Democrats aren't as hierarchical and authoritarian as Republicans, so it has manifested in different ways. We do Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The Bernie Sanders phenomenon isn't about the man as much as him as a focal point for a collective left-wing aching for somebody in power to hear our voices, since we don't have six-figures to hand out in speaking fees to make our voice heard.
Using the specter of President Trump to extort us into supporting Hillary Clinton isn't going to work, because we all understand It's The Rigged System, Stupid! Asking us to support the saner bribe taker doesn't mean much to us because we don't get to pay the bribes, anyway.
As people like you have told me, Chez, Bernie would never be able to get his agenda past the Congress. So I'm supposed to believe Hillary, who is hated in greater number and ferocity by the GOP, would get things accomplished? No, she'll take the same Obama tack of abandoning any real progressive position, starting her negotiation in the center, and caving to most of the Republican pulls to the right, so she can point to an "accomplishment".
And don't even get me started on the trustworthiness numbers for Hillary. Tell me it's all the fault of the right-wing smear machine and I'll shoot it down like sniper fire over Bosnia. You really want to blame a possible Clinton election loss on us when she'd be the least trusted, most hated candidate we've ever fielded, while she's in the middle of a Democratic administration's FBI investigating her over classified materials?
You can call it a "little pouty tantrum," Chez, but I call it finally taking a stand against the continued rightward slide of the Democratic Party. If we keep rewarding the Democratic Party for being less evil, they'll just continue being less good.