Friday, July 29, 2016

The revolution fallacy: Voting for bad guys does NOT get you good results

Warning: If you are planning to sit this one out, or are planning to vote 3rd party, or are planning to vote for Trump, you probably don't want to read this even though you should.

The Dems didn't select my candidate, so I am going to get even ...

Having heard this from many people over the years, and hearing it again in this election year, I feel obliged to explain the "this" and take issue with it.

The "this" is the belief, an article of faith and not fact or science, that given a choice between a modestly good candidate (or, if you wish, a marginally bad candidate) and a really, really bad candidate, voting for the really bad candidate will precipitate "the revolution." The people who put the really bad candidate in office will see the light and will oust the candidate or elect a better, really good person in the next election.

If you really believe any form of this, you should get to a shrink ASAP because you are delusional. Here is why.

1968 was the year that the Democratic convention in Chicago was the target of those folks who had lost Gene McCarthy (to electoral defeat) and Robert Kennedy (to assassination). The establishment picked Hubert Humphrey, a guy with very good progressive creds, but that was not good enough and lots of those folks stayed home. Richard Nixon was the result. No revolution.

In 2000, folks voted for a third party candidate in just enough numbers to lose Florida and throw the election to George W. Bush. (More on that below.) Got the Iraq war. No revolution.

In 2014 in Arizona's CD2 race, 167 Dems stayed home because they took issue with some, only some, of Rep. Ron Barber's votes. Martha McSally was the result. "This" was invoked in various forums to argue that McSally would be such a disaster that we would elect a better, progressive candidate in 2016. Not happening. Her handlers gave her a cosmetic and PR makeover and she's kept a low profile. She has far more money in her war chest than the two Democratic challengers combined. She has a good chance of winning this year. I predict no revolution

And that brings us to 2016. I am hearing "this" again. Bernie Sanders got a lot of votes (one of them mine, by the way) but Hillary Clinton won the nomination. Now the disaffected Bernie-or-bust crowd is split between voting for Donald Trump and voting for a third party or not voting at all. The numbers I've seen have 76% of the Bernie supporters voting for Clinton, 11% voting for Trump, and the remainder doing something else. So, the present-day "this" is this: the result of a Trump victory will be so awful, that (1) the revolution will occur, or (2) the voters will elect a true progressive like Bernie in 2020. (1) has never happened, at least not since the American revolution. (2) Is unlikely - see 2014 -- and especially unlikely if Trump wins and does every fascist, dictatorial thing he rants about.

Don't just take it from me. Seth Myers (NBC Late Night) took note of the boos from Bernie supporters on the first day of the convention and has this response - on YouTube.

Here's a similar message from Dan Savage on 3rd party votes.

... People supported Ralph Nader in 2000 and said there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush, therefore we could all afford to throw our votes away, protest-style, on Ralph Nader, who had no hope of getting elected, because there was no difference between Bush and Gore.

These same people, at the same time, said that George Bush was so manifestly obviously terrible that he would bring the revolution if he got himself elected somehow. They didn’t say this about Gore, he wouldn’t bring the revolution. They’re exactly the same, exactly as awful, but one would bring the revolution and one wouldn’t. Which means they weren't exactly the same and they weren't equally awful.

And we're hearing the same thing now about Hillary and Donald. That they’re both equally awful. They're both equally terrible, corrupt two party system, ... fuck both their houses! Vote for Jill Stein!

And if Donald should get elected, oh he’s so terrible, so much worse than the equally awful Hillary Clinton, that his election will bring the revolution.

It's bullshit.

The revolution did not come in 2000 when George W. Bush got close enough to winning to steal the White House. It will not come if Donald J. Trump gets his ass elected.

Disaster will come. And the people who’ll suffer are not going to be the pasty white Green Party supporters — pasty white Jill Stein and her pasty white supporters. The people who’ll suffer are going to be people of color. People of minority faiths. Queer people. Women.

Don’t do it. Don't throw your vote away on Jill Stein/vote for, bankshot-style, Donald Trump.

And if you want to build a viable third party, more power to you. I could see myself voting for a Green Party candidate for president in 25 years, after I've seen Green Party candidates getting elected to state legislatures, getting elected to governorships, getting elected to Congress. Then you can run some legitimate [mo...rfu...r] for president.

Here's the lesson. Electing bad guys gets you bad results.

The choice is starkly clear: you can accept incremental progressivism (at worst) or an authoritarian regime bankrolled by Russian oligarchs (at best).

As I've said here in this blog before, vote for Clinton and then let's all work to make sure that the most progressive platform gets translated into action. I do not know how much of that is possible given the uncertainties about control of the Congress and courts. But I do know that none of it is possible if Trump is our next president.

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