by Eddie Goldman
It was just sitting there in its oversized envelope, this absentee ballot I get sent since I decided that my various health problems had made it too difficult for me to navigate these poorly run polling places. And it is quite easy to fill out: Just fill in the circle next to the name of your choice for each office. You can even quite easily write a candidate in, much more easily than at a voting booth, with the last column left blank just for that purpose. It’s all a bit like writing a check and paying a bill by mail, without having to include a check in the return letter, but still having to affix one of those “Forever” stamps.
But of course it is much more than that, supposedly a matter of principle, some would say. Or is it? For me, the vote simply indicates whom you would least likely want to lose the election. And contrary to what others have argued, a vote for someone does not indicate support, or require you not to fight all the crap they will do once in office. As the Marxist Andrew Kliman wrote, “voting isn’t supporting…. This distinction may be a difficult one for the dialectically challenged. But to me, it is straightforward, even obvious.” (Although I am not sure he is right about the actual situation in Utah.)
So why did I choose to vote for Clinton, i.e., fill in that little circle next to her name?
She is obviously the favorite of the U.S. ruling class, getting enormous support from her bosses on Wall Street and almost all the mainstream capitalist media. She told the Council of Foreign Relations last year that she wants a more aggressive international stance than Obama’s, which they seemed to approve. This will mean more reckless, and likely losing, imperialist wars under her regime.
She is wedded to an issue all these candidates have tried not to discuss: plans to privatize social security and institute massive cuts, packaged as a “grand bargain”, instead of increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations, at least to the levels they used to be taxed.
Like virtually all Democratic politicians, she makes lots of promises to end or ease mass incarceration, but will not implement plans for jobs, education, training, etc., for those who have been enslaved as prison laborers. Where will she put them? See above about more wars.
Even the issue of her e-mail server, which the official right thinks is the central issue facing people around the world, demonstrates her proclivity for lying and her near-absolute fear of transparency.
One could list a thousand more things she will do which are against the interests of the working class and oppressed people. And they all are true.
But the one thing that also is true is that she is not Donald Trump. If elected and in office, Trump will try to roll back virtually every gain made in workers’ rights, civil and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights in the last 100 years. He has already shown contempt for the First Amendment and the rights of free speech and freedom of assembly. He will go as far in an authoritarian direction as he can, and will have a vassal Supreme Court to back him up. His mass deportation plan alone will require massive police state measures — Show me your papers!
What Trump would mean for Black and Latino people is a reign of terror not seen since the heyday of lynching. There will be the “legal” lynchings of racist police murders with no punishment, even less than there is now, for these pigs. His “law and order” demagogy means massive repression and massacres.
For Muslims, and even presumed Muslims whether they are or not, repression and discrimination will escalate. What better argument against the American people can terrorists like Daesh/ISIS have if the American people elect such an open bigot?
Trump’s utter contempt for women has been well publicized, with more and more women lining up to accuse him publicly of rape and sexual assault. Women hold up half the sky, but they may yet crash it down upon his tangerine head.
Clinton may be stoking up the war machine even more than Obama did, but what wars Trump will launch are less predictable. He is fond of toying with the idea of using nuclear weapons, somewhere, anywhere. He cares naught for the complex calculations of the imperialist think tanks. He would make the hapless Bush and his “weapons of mass destruction” charade look like brilliant military strategists. There are few historical parallels with his impetuous idiocy, with the most recent one perhaps being Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union.
Trump’s uber-lassiez faire economic policies will only accelerate and deepen the many layers of the economic crisis which is inherent in the capitalist mode of production. It will be like a coked-up version of the economic disaster under Reagan, only much worse since the world and American economies are in far weaker shape than they were in the 1980s. And he will attempt to strip away the weak environmental regulations already in place, as the world regularly breaks records for the highest temperatures ever.
In short, Trump will take America, and thus much of the world, in the direction of fascism, with his bands of white nationalists, KKKers, cops, FBI and border patrol agents, and “Second Amendment” people unleashed. Many people will needlessly die and have their lives ruined under Trump, and it will take decades at the least to regain what would be lost under his rule.
Of course, a Clinton presidency is absolutely no barrier to such developments. We have seen time and time again how liberals compromise with fascists and try to appease them. But it will provide some time and opportunities to organize a bit more freely on all fronts.
Trump’s legions will go nuts for a while if he loses, but a big loss will demoralize many of them. Many of the fanatics who support him are just bullies, and we know what happens in most cases when you land a solid left hook to the jaw of a bully.
I will also add that Clinton, unlike Trump, said she favors a no-fly zone in Syria. Assuming she keeps her word, we would have to see what this would mean. But one real possibility is that it will give some respite to the Russian air strikes, and provide a bit of breathing room for the Syrian revolution. There is nothing wrong in exploiting inter-imperialist contradictions for the benefit of revolution.
Now, what about the “left”? Why not support them, at least in safe states?
Here is the biggest rub. In reality, there is no American organized left. The tiny Trotskyite parties on the ballot are sectarian authoritarians of the first degree. All they want anyway, as impossible as it may be, is to become the ruling party in an authoritarian one-party state with state capitalism and almost no rights for the masses, a la the Soviet Union, etc. The smashing of the Kronstadt rebellion is their model and their holy grail, as they try to revive the stinking corpses of long-dead dogmas like Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, and Maoism, in whatever mixture they choose.
The small Socialist Party showed some promise at first and seems to have some good people, but did not have leadership and candidates who could engage in debate on the issues. The SP doesn’t even have a position on the Syrian revolution, which is a disgrace for a party which claims to be revolutionary.
Ah, the Greens. I like my green tea and broccoli, but not these Greens. They are mainly a bunch of petit bourgeois conspiracy theory kooks. Stein wants to re-open the 9/11 investigation, as do her idiotic “truther” supporters. She casts doubt on vaccines, which endangers hundreds of millions lives.
Worse, Stein is aligned with the kleptocratic Putin Mafia regime. Her running mate Baraka openly supports the slaughter going on in Syria by the butcher Assad and his Russian and Iranian bosses.
We have right-wing fascists like many of the Trump supporters, and now we also have these left-wing fascists. So even in safe states for Clinton, we should not support this outfit and its growth. Yes, there is a need for a popular mass third party in America, but not with this bunch.
What this very sadly and dangerously means is that we are left with no line of defense from this “left”. In this election, the only very weak and unreliable barrier to Trump is Clinton. The only way to beat Trump is to vote for Clinton. That is a fact, however painful it is to admit, and as horrendous a candidate as Clinton surely is.
Some folks may think that they have the luxury of taking a chance on a Trump presidency and tossing away their vote for the futile efforts of one of these microscopic or dead-end groups, or just not voting at all. Most of us, however, do not have that privilege and have too much at stake to take that gamble.
All of this, of course, is conditional on what the polls forecast. If Clinton were clearly headed to a landslide victory, as appeared likely only a few weeks ago, I would not be advocating voting for her. But as of the weekend before the election, there is no clear winner, and Trump appears to be gaining some momentum.
A lot of people are skeptical about all these polls, but I can share some insights from having worked at one of these outfits for over a decade. These places are businesses, and if their forecasts are horribly inaccurate, they lose credibility, hence clients, hence profits. There have been cases of intentional bias, but that is very dangerous for a polling company, and all the major polls have shown the same basic trajectory of ups and downs of support for Clinton and Trump.
Even so, when their margins of error are mentioned, it is not always pointed out that the standard polling statement (as I recall it) is that the margin of error is accurate 95% of the time. And it is hardly news that this election campaign has been unique. Plus, since they are businesses, they often underpay their workers, are understaffed, and cut corners, all of which add to the inaccuracy of the polls.
If we compare this to a 12-round championship boxing match, we have thus far completed 11 rounds. Clinton is presumed to be ahead six rounds to five, although the scores are not usually announced in boxing until after the fight, just as the official Electoral College tally will be the only one that counts. We are thus in round 12, and this fight could still go either way.
Of course, once again, key to all this is mobilizing the masses. That also means a steadfast struggle to preserve and expand democratic rights, including the use of the Internet, social media, and mobile devices.
I repeat, none of these struggles should stop or pause for this election or for what Clinton wants. But pursuing them is not at all in contradiction with casting a vote against Trump, which in almost all cases means voting for Clinton.
Such a situation may not always be the case, when voting for a left or popular candidate is a reality. But that is the stuff of fiction, history, and maybe the future, and not how it is in November 2016. Sometimes the only immediate choice is between bourgeois democracy and fascism, or something which will directly lead to it.
On the evening of November 8, I will not be attending Clinton’s rally at the Javits Center here in New York. Even if she wins, it will not exactly be something to go out celebrating and drinking beer.
All this is due mostly to the complete failure, for almost a century now, of the so-called “left” to understand that the emancipation of the working class and oppressed people must be the work of the working class and oppressed people themselves, and not the product of scheming by some “vanguard” looking to become a new ruling class.
So I already filled in that little circle and mailed in the ballot. I hope you understand, but also prepare for a very rough ride in the years and decades to come.
Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of No Holds Barred, at http://eddiegoldman.com.