Progressives are intimate with the principle of voting for the lesser of two evils, also knows as the moral relativity principle. Most of us have never been offered candidates whose policies echo ours. For decades, we've been relegated to voting "against" rather than "for." It's a principle that's ingrained in us from the time we're little baby progressives"and it's an extremely hard habit to break, especially when we feel we have no alternative. However, break it we must, or we will never have representation.
In this election, we have an alternative. In Senator Bernie Sanders, we have a truly progressive candidate who has spent 25 years in Congress passing substantive legislation, never wavering from his ethics and principles for the sake of money or power. Unlike past progressive candidates, Senator Sanders has built a strong following, has more than adequate funding, and can handily beat any Republican candidate in the general election.
Yet the DNC is supporting--again!--Hillary Clinton"a weak, flawed candidate who constantly flip-flops on crucial issues, has a record of hawkish foreign policy, may be indicted for violations of national security, is in bed with corporate interests, has a consistently unfavorable rating with voters, and will be hard-pressed to beat even the weakest Republican in the general election.
And with every primary that Hillary Clinton wins, even those by slim margins, Bernie Sanders' supporters are increasingly exhorted, threatened, and insulted regarding voting for Clinton in the general election. "You have to unite the Party!" they say, as if we progressives divided it and, therefore, are responsible for healing the fracture by compromising every principle we hold dear. "If you don't vote for Hillary, you're responsible if Trump wins," they say, completely disregarding the DNC's, media's, and their own complicity in shutting out the progressive candidate while polishing the tiara for the establishment queen at every opportunity.
It's time to revisit the moral relativity principle and its ethical implications, because the lesser of two evils is still, by definition, evil. My vote for Barack Obama in 2012 means that, in some small way, I bear a portion of responsibility for drone strikes and the fast-tracking of the TPP. In a like manner, I can celebrate that my vote contributed to the Iran nuclear deal, the classification of broadband as a public utility, normalized relations with Cuba, the death of the KXL, and the legalization of same sex marriage. I will always know what my "for" vote accomplished, but I can never know what voting against the Romney/Ryan ticket prevented"and I have a rich imagination.
In the end, therefore, a vote for Hillary Clinton is not a vote against Donald Trump; it's a vote of support for Hillary Clinton. I cannot base my vote on the "D" after her name, ignoring the statements, votes, policies, decisions, and viewpoints that are on her record, because that record belies the promises she is making on the campaign trail. Nor do I buy the argument that she has "evolved," because the recent record disproves it.
Based on her record as candidate, Secretary of State, Senator, and FLOTUS, and based on her plans, a vote for Hillary Clinton, then, is a vote supporting:
- the "drive-by regime change" in Libya, including the destruction of the Great Man-Made River and of the budding pan-African union with its own gold-based currency, so that France and Britain could continue neocolonialism and divide up Libyan oil;
- the continuation of fracking across the US, unless states ban it, and attempts to garner global fracking deals for US corporations;
- trade deals that further deprive Americans of jobs, but benefit corporations;
- increased arms to Israeli PM Netanyahu and his genocidal rejection of the two-state solution;
- no restoration of Glass-Steagall and no attempt to break up or rein in Wall Street;
- college still unaffordable for most, and student debt still overwhelming;
- a probable attempt at regime change in Syria, possibly with American troops on the ground;
- no national health care plan, even though the ACA is inadequate in that millions are still uninsured and millions more can only afford catastrophic coverage;
- increased military presence around Iran and a possible unilateral abrogation of the nuclear deal; inadequate revenue due to an unwillingness to tax the 1% and corporations sufficiently;
- no progress made on institutional racism, including police brutality, demilitarizing police forces, equality in the justice system, investigating and prosecuting redlining, urban renewal, equal funding for public schools, closing the wage gap, DoJ investigations, etc.;
- continued human rights violations as a result of foreign and corporate policy;
- a presidential Cabinet drawn from the corporate and military-industrial sectors; a minimum wage that is not a living wage is most parts of the country;
- further rigging of the electoral system and the federal government for profit.
None of this aligns with my ethics and principles as a progressive. I find these actions and ideas as repugnant as those of Donald Trump, if not more, because they were done or are planned by a candidate who calls herself a progressive. I cannot and will not support such a candidate. And if the Democratic Party has decided to abandon progressives in favor of the oligarchy, then it doesn't deserve my support either. Perhaps I haven't discarded the moral relativity principle so much as revised it. It's better to stand up for the progressive policies I believe in than to support the Democratic Party's slightly slower slide into Third World totalitarianism because I fear the Republican Party's slightly quicker slide.
That's the part that Hillary's supporters miss: Hillary and Bernie are not two sides of the same coin. Hillary and Trump are.