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What Should Progressives Do This Election?

By Emily Chambers | Late Night TV | August 2, 2016 |


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It’s been a frustrating election year (seriously, how is this still going on?) for progressives. Having finally seen a candidate with a platform we could really believe in, we went out to vote. And then all hell broke loose. Party-infighting, Bernie Bros, the DNC email hack. It’s been rough to say the least. And I’m here to say, as one of you, you’re not wrong, Progressives. A lot of this sucks.

I didn’t actually love the U.S.A. lovefest that the DNC put on last week, but I understand its importance in helping to win over the blue-collar, white male vote that the DNC. Also I don’t love that the DNC is courting the blue-collar, white-male vote instead of a hard push towards Progressives. And before you say it, I know that there were platform changes made to accommodate Bernie voters. I’m not saying nothing’s been done. I’m just saying that while the product design had Progressives in mind, the marketing campaign clearly doesn’t.

Which is to a large extent why this cycle has been so frustrating. We’ve been reminded that Sanders and therefore most Progressives aren’t actually Democrats and therefore shouldn’t expect a voice in the party. But given the way the current campaign financing and political systems are set up, we can’t have a viable third party. We can, in the future, make inroads into the DNC to try to push it to a more Progressive platform, but with the understanding that those blue-collar white guy votes are always going to be seen as more valuable than our assumed guaranteed votes. And for the current election, we’re going to shut up and vote for Hillary because abstaining or voting for a third party is the equivalent of a Trump vote. All of which makes me feel powerless, resentful, and pissed off. Like I said, a lot of this sucks.

So here’s what were not going to do about this particular election: we’re going to stop doing this. And then we’re going to shut up and vote for Hillary.

I’m actually significantly more sympathetic to the Bernie protesters than I think most people would be. When protests happen, it’s because people are still invested in the thing they are protesting, and they believe that thing is getting fucked up. I understand the need to protest even when it seems like a lost cause because, goddamnit, when you protest at least people listen. But this kind of protesting is making us look like assholes. Hillary is emblematic of a lot of the problems protesters have with the current election system. She has the backing of one of only two politically powerful parties, she has corporate backing, she has a platform that’s more Reagan than FDR. None of those problems are solved by getting rid of Hillary individually. In the same way that none of those problems will be solved by electing Sanders president. And most importantly, none of those problems will be so exacerbated by a Trump presidency that we’ll successfully blow up the whole corrupted system.

In fact, I believe most people are wrong about how bad a Trump presidency will be, and that’s a terrible, terrible thing. I don’t believe Trump will deport 11 million undocumented workers or close the borders to Muslims or start World War III. I think he’ll be an ineffective leader, an enabler of even worse tax, environmental, and corporate law, and worst he’ll be an international embarrassment. He’ll be terrible enough to widen the divide between the rich and poor, he’ll gut the remaining infrastructure to the best of his ability, and piss off all of our allies without doing anything bad enough to be impeached. A vote for Trump won’t secure the revolution, it’ll solidify the currently shitty status quo.

So other than acknowledging that this is a shitty situation for a lot of Progressive votes, shutting up and voting for Hillary, what should we do? Exactly what Bernie’s been telling us to do for years. Get involved in local politics, vote for campaign finance reform and against gerrymandering, and continue to register your opinion with your elected officials even if you didn’t vote for them (you’re still contacting your congresspeople about the Dickey Amendment, right?). Sanders is not the end-all-be-all of the Progressive movement anymore than Hillary is the entirety of the Moderate movement. If Progressives really want to see a change in the system, stop protesting for Bernie and start protesting with him.



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