This time of year, like many other people; politics tends to be on my mind quite a bit. I start thinking a lot about the past and future of the United States. I happen to live in this country, and I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.
Yes, I have put serious thought into moving to another country, the closest of which is Canada, the farthest is probably Norway or Sweden. I’ve always wanted to visit the Nordic countries, and for more than just like a two week vacation. Ah, maybe someday.
The point being that I am stuck here in Michigan and the US, and that there is quite a bit to mull over because of this. I won’t say I am “staying to fight”, but there are a lot of changes I would like to see in this country.
In this political cycle, my current logic looks like this;
1) We are in a two party system. Only one of two are going to be president.
2) Making third party candidates unrealistic. Plus I don’t agree with Stein or Johnson.
3) Sitting out is also not an option. While I agree with the sentiment of a protest vote, it would also mean I would be comfortable with either result. I am not. Plus sitting out only means the hardliners in either party determine the vote. I would rather have my say then count for nothing.
4) I have no love of Clinton. She is a well qualified politician, but nothing about her particularly inspires me.
5) I have nothing but contempt for Trump. I am disappointed the Republicans nominated such a.. person.
6) Therefore, I looked at the issues and compare them with my own values.
7) I value the ideas of social democracy, ie the Nordic Model. Equality, democracy, and the needs of the many over the needs of the few. People before profit. Ect.
8) Sanders inspired me, and spoke to my values. But even as a write in, he is no longer a realistic option.
9) Issue by issue, and with concessions to Sanders ideals, the Democratic platform is closer to my views. The Republican platform is actually regressive to my values.
10) I would rather have four more years of the status quo, then give up what has been gained, though it is far from perfect.
11) I think a Republican presidency under Trump would be harmful to women, LGBT folks, and minorities in general.
12) Therefore, I will be voting Democratic this cycle. If Clinton is the side effect of that, I will accept that.
Now I want to talk a little bit more in depth about a few of these points.
It is hard for me to convey my disappointment throughout this whole process. I consider myself an independent, so I really vote by how the various issues line up with my own thoughts. It is no secret that I was a big supporter of Bernie Sanders, as he spoke a lot about social democracy and the Nordic Model. These are ideas that are really close to my heart.
But alas, Sanders did not get the nomination, nor did a whole legion of Republican candidates. The two nominations for the major parties are Trump and Clinton. There are also the third party candidates of Stein and Johnson, and perhaps a few others I don’t know about. I have read and heard a lot of people talking about a “protest vote” of one of the third party candidates, or not voting at all.
I understand the sentiment behind it, I do. I am as sick of the two party system as most people. And maybe that is something we need to change, but can we be realistic for a second? The third party candidates really don’t have a chance. In America, we have a two party system and have had one for a long time. That means only Red or Blue can win this election. You may want to protest, hell I do. But third party candidates is not the way to do it. All voting third party will do is pad the numbers of one of the winners.
The same is true of refusing to vote. I have heard it said, and partially agree with the idea, is that even not voting is still voting. You are voting to not have any say in the process. Your vote really wont count one way or the other. The number of people that don’t vote are counted only as a side note in this culture.
As such, realistically we will end up with either Clinton or Trump as president, either a Democrat or a Republican. I am not going to go through the effort of detailing everything I like or dislike about either of these two, but suffice to say I compared my own values to the platforms of the two parties.
As I said, I highly value the ideas of social democracy, especially as they appear in the Nordic Model. Basic principles such as equality and democracy, and also things like worker’s rights, gender equality, redistribution of wealth, LGBT+ equality, environmental responsibility, universal healthcare and education. You know, people before profits and the needs of the many above the needs of the few. Hell, I’ll even flirt with ideas behind democratic socialism, which is even farther left than I consider myself.
The point I am trying to convey is that I am left of center in many of my beliefs and ideas, and as such I align more closely with the Democrats this time around. Partly because of where the platform stands on the issues, and partly because the alternative terrifies me.
I am not going to pull any punches here. I think Trump is a self-serving bigot, sexist and racist. He embodies so many of the things I stand against. I might even go so far as to call the guy a fascist. The fact is that he terrifies me, and I am utterly disappointed that the Republican Party and their voter base allowed for such a man to become the nominee. In my opinion, the Republican Party failed this country by allowing it to happen. They have a lot of soul searching to do when all this is over, and decide whether or not they are still relevant to the future of America.
Honestly, the only people I think will do well under a Trump presidency are those just like Trump, the rich and powerful, mostly of the white male persuasion. Now, I’ll own the fact that I am a white male. My privileged position might shield me from some of the worse from a Trump presidency…
But it won’t protect my family, friends and loved ones. Trump has shown himself to be a sexist, and that makes me concerned for all the women I know. He has shown himself to be a sexist, so all my LGBT+ friends would be at risk. He has shown himself to be against immigrants and foreigners, and this makes me worry for all the people that don’t think, look, and/or act like Trump…
All the ideas and principles I cherish would be at risk under a Trump presidency. I cannot in good conscience stand by and let that happen. I don’t think I could sleep at night if I voted third party, or sat this one out.
This is not to say that I have an overwhelming love for the Democrats either. I feel very “meh” about Hillary. She is well qualified for the job to be sure, but there is nothing that particularly endears her to me. She doesn’t inspire me. I think she will be a mediocre president, and the status quo won’t change very much. The oligarchy is not going anywhere soon.
Which is a component to my overall disappointment with the whole process. There are a lot of changes I would like to see made. Those changes are all long term stuff for sure, and will need a lot of time and resources to implement. It may take generations, and let’s face facts, a simple writer like me just doesn’t have a lot of influence overall.
I want to see this country move in the direction of social democracy. I think people should come before profit, and we need to consider the needs of the many above the needs of the few. America kind of gets this backward, if you want my honest opinion, and we lag behind the rest of the world significantly in this regard.
In case I have not made it clear, I will be voting Democratic this election. Not so much for the candidate herself, but for the platform. At very least, to preserve what has been gained.
But let’s not kid ourselves, we have a long way to go before we get to anything that closely resembles social democracy. In addition, the forces, people, and cultural ideas that made Trump even a nominee for president will not just vanish when this election ends. That underlying spectre of bigotry will not cease to exist. That is something to consider too.
There is much work to be done, and I am still thinking about how we should go about it. It may be a project for another blog, once this disappointing election cycle is over.
Thanks for reading!