Vote For Hillary Clinton Or Die in a Fiery Apocalypse: A Letter To Young Progressives

By David Faris | (Informed Comment) | – –

Dear young progressives,

If recent polls are to be believed, younger progressive voters like you are either preparing to vote in unusually large numbers for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, or planning to stay home. If you’re going to stop reading now because tl;dr, the takeaway of this article is the following: please don’t do this. This is a very bad idea. If I had to rank-order all the bad decisions available to you in the universe it would go: 1) Any of these 3 options 2) Everything else.

You need to vote for Hillary Clinton or you may die in a fiery apocalypse that will make the plot of The Walking Dead seem like a story you tell to small children to comfort them and help them fall asleep. Voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, or writing in Bernie Sanders, or staying home, will contribute materially to the Armageddon which will follow. This article will explain why.

Don’t worry though, this is not another Millennial Trend Piece, where middle-aged people shame you about how you’re not buying cars or having enough sexy time or whatever. I’ll trade car ownership rates for a whole generation that believes women are people and climate change is real. I’ll make that trade every single time.

(Side note: How did we determine that the Generation X ended in 1980? Were the doctors and nurses standing around on the morning of January 1st, 1981 saying, “Well that’s a wrap. The next baby born in this country is part of a new generation. Look at this baby right here! See? Totally different! This stupid baby clearly has the attention span of a hamster! We shall call this baby a Millennial and spend the rest of our lives prosecuting this arbitrary concept for the crime of living in the world we made for it.”) There will be no cringe-inducing Snapchat jokes in the paragraphs that follow. I will not yell at you and call you selfish or a child or any of the other unhelpful devices that commentators deploy to shame people into voting their way. And unlike most of the people that write smarmily about you, I actually adore your generation. As a college professor, I spend dozens of hours every week with you and I consider it a privilege. You’re navigating an economic world that is much more challenging than the one I grew up in, and you’re doing it with grace.

I am, however, going to dish it to you straight.

Let’s take the low-hanging fruit first. Gary Johnson is a bizarre choice for young progressives to consider. I know the Libertarians promise to get the government out of your weed stash and your marriages, which is dope. But they also believe a lot of really preposterous and regressive things that would functionally obliterate modern society. The Libertarian Party platform explicitly calls for abolishing or repealing the following things: income taxes, Social Security, public education, the Environmental Protection Agency, Obamacare as well as and I quote, “all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.” Since the U.S. Constitution does not really call for very many federal programs at all – it being a shortish document that establishes the rules of political order rather than a draft of the federal budget for a country of 319 million people in the year Twenty-Sixteen – that pretty much covers most of them except the military. These delusional fabulists are allowed to run around blabbering about their absurd fantasy of stripping the modern state down to its pre-industrial shell because none of them will ever get within a million miles of actual power and thus will never be held accountable for any of it. That their hilarious platform now exists on the Internet – a thing that was invented by government researchers, using a method (government-funded partnerships with universities) that Libertarians would abolish—is an irony beyond their grasp. On top of that, Gary Johnson himself appears to be high as a skyscraper 24 hours a day and has the general demeanor of someone who can’t quite remember what happened yesterday but thinks maybe he left the oven on. In short: libertarians are not serious people with well-thought-out plans for how to grapple with the many challenges of modernity. You should not vote for them in general. You definitely should not vote for this one.

Jill Stein, I suppose, makes a bit more sense for you. She seems like a nice, idealistic woman, and she clearly cares and has poured her heart into her activism, some of which has been quite effective. But I would argue that this is not enough to be considered presidential material. The sum total of her experience in government is serving a term-and-a-half on a small-town council in Massachusetts, a position she quit to run for governor. She has since run a series of campaigns for higher offices and has never come close to winning any of them. This isn’t about what she has or hasn’t said about vaccines. There is a reason that you do not invite someone from the U.S. Senate to analyze your MRI or pilot your next flight, just as there are very good reasons why we should not plunge total political neophytes directly into the highest political office in the country. Government is not neuroscience but it does require some basic expertise and experience. Barack Obama’s four years in the U.S. Senate are something that should be considered a bare minimum.

An even better reason to dismiss voting for Stein and the Greens in this election is structural. That’s because “third party” is a kind of shorthand that obscures more than it illuminates. I frequently hear from many of you that you would like a third party option. The polling reflects this desire. But America isn’t just missing a third party – it’s missing a fourth, fifth and sixth too. The reason isn’t because they don’t exist – you’ll see them right there on the ballot in all kinds of elections. It’s because of the electoral system – the rules that we use in the United States to elect our national legislature. The United States uses a system known in political science as “Single Member District Plurality.” We conduct 435 separate elections for the House of Representatives, and in every district, we elect a single person according to whoever has the most votes, even if it’s less than a majority. Before you start stabbing yourself with a fork to stay awake, please stick with me for a second. Political scientists have consistently found that countries using this system have fewer major political parties than countries that use versions of “proportional representation” where parties are awarded a number of seats that corresponds roughly to their percentage of the vote. Think about it: The Green Party could run a candidate in every district, have that candidate come in third in each race with 20% of the vote, and end up with zero seats in the House. In a PR system they’d get around 20% of the seats. Here they get zero. This is why people keep yelling about wasting your vote. It’s actually true. It’s like if you had two options for dinner and you didn’t like either of them and decided to fry up something that does not exist. You could probably succeed in replacing the position of the Democratic Party with the Greens, but it would take a generation and the world would be torched in the interim.

Look, I know most of you wanted Bernie Sanders to win the nomination. This was shocking to the Olds because we mistakenly saw him as the second coming of Dennis Kucinich rather than as a plausible candidate whose ideology and rectitude inspired you. Our bad. Important to note: Bernie Sanders has also realized that he would prefer not to spend his last years on Earth watching the charred remains of everything he believes in buried in a shallow grave by a hateful charlatan with cartoon hair who runs around the country promising to ethnically cleanse 11 million Latinos and spend scarce public resources building a wall around a country that could not possibly do us any real harm. That’s why Bernie is out there stumping for Hillary Clinton, a woman he plainly does not like and would prefer to never see again, even for a beer.

Bernie also remembers the 2000 election, and what transpired in its dreadful aftermath. One of the hardest things for your elders to quite grasp is that events that were seminal in our lives are ancient history to you. The newest voters in this country were two years old for Bush v. Gore. Al Gore bringing a new personality to each of the three debates? I know! Unforgettable, right? No. Those debates might as well be Lincoln-Douglas to someone coming of age today.

It strikes me as odd that the discourse in the Democratic primary focused much more on the 90s (the crime bill! Welfare reform!) than the 2000s. So it’s worth taking something of an extended detour in here to think about the 2000 election. There were two major-party candidates for president, as there always are. One was Al Gore, the sitting Vice President, a man who came off a bit like a tranquilized Vulcan in public but had pretty standard left-liberal leanings and would later go on to become a major climate change activist. (Seriously: An Inconvenient Truth was a crucial catalyst for the discourse about climate change). The other option was George W. Bush, the “folksy” two-term governor of Texas who even on the campaign trail in 2000 displayed a shockingly limited grasp of public policy and was rather obviously pretending to be more moderate than he was. The Green Party ran the activist Ralph Nader. The Libertarians ran an economic cult leader named Harry Browne.

What was that campaign like? A measure of how much of a different planet the 2000 election took place on is that the longest-running debate between the two candidates was over what to do with all the extra scratch we had lying around. We were told America was so flush it wouldn’t have to go to the ATM for a decade. We were the big winner at poker night and we were thinking about buying a vacation house. Gore talked, in ways that seem dull even 16 years later, about setting the budget surplus aside in a “lockbox” to keep elements of the social welfare system, like Social Security, solvent. Bush spoke unapologetically about giving the extra money back to the Hamptons set so that eventually it might find its way miraculously into the hands of middle class and poor people, according to the precepts of a discredited economic theory that no one who has spent an hour studying the evidence could seriously believe.

The race was shockingly close. Gore won the popular vote. But he lost narrowly in the Electoral College after an absurdly close race in Florida was resolved by a genuinely ludicrous Supreme Court decision that had to have been written with a knowing smirk. Had even a miniscule percentage of Nader’s 97,421 Florida votes gone to Gore, George W. Bush would never have been president. Very few people who have studied the Florida vote dispute this.

So how did that work out for everyone? If you didn’t live through it as a conscious adult, you might not quite understand what a generation-wrecking disaster the presidency of George W. Bush turned out to be. He was a narrow-minded mediocrity that we are now all preposterously nostalgic about because he’s not a sociopath like the current GOP nominee and because he likes to dance inappropriately at the funerals of murdered police officers. He wasn’t necessarily a bad person but he was also easily one of our worst presidents. He left office with the approval rating of head lice. His reckless tax cuts blew a more or less permanent, Texas-sized hole in the federal budget. His inane decision to invade Iraq – a country that had not a single discernible thing at all to do with the tragedy of 9/11 – will be haunting you like the Demogorgon from Stranger Things for the rest of your lives. The total cost of the Iraq War – which may rise as high as $6 trillion –will eventually exceed the value of all the oil imported to the United States since 1980. These things happened because Bush – who never knew anything meaningful about government or public policy or economic theory, or really anything aside from baseball and executing people– immediately turned his administration over to a collection of aggressive ideologues who had been waiting patiently in their think tank offices for years to unleash their theories about taxes and power on an unwitting public. These maniacs, nearly all of whom remain completely unapologetic about everything they have done and are waiting once again for you to put them back in office, filled up the empty vessel of George W. Bush’s brain with their thoughts and convinced our erstwhile captain to steer the ship of state directly into the damn iceberg.

The predictable fiasco of his 8 years in office happened because progressives (back then we just called ourselves liberals) couldn’t tell the difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Many stayed home because the outgoing Clinton Administration did some things that turned out not to be very progressive at all, and people were super frustrated and kind of bored. Some voted for Bush. The math of who would or wouldn’t have won Florida is less important than this simple fact: Al Gore would have been a much better president than George W. Bush. Like, your lives would be improved right now, in meaningful ways. For starters, we wouldn’t be so broke that we can’t pay for higher education, or really any education at all, because Al Gore wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. He would have done more progressive things with our surplus bling rather than cutting checks to yacht owners and appointing ageless archconservatives to the Supreme Court in between ruinous overseas adventures.

Why am I telling you this? If you live long enough, I promise you that eventually you will hear all of the arguments that are getting bandied about today again, and they will be verbatim. In 20 years they will sound like farce to you and you will want to scream. And I am hearing and seeing so much that reminds me of the 2000 election. Then as now the Democratic nominee was a stiff policy wonk who was first elected to office when many liberal ideas and policies were politically toxic and therefore was considered more conservative than he actually was. Then as now we were at the tail end of a reasonably successful two-term Democratic presidency that nevertheless disappointed the progressive left. Then as now the outgoing president was far more charming and effective on the stump than the current nominee. And then as now, the minor-party candidate threatens to throw the election to the Republicans. The other day I even heard someone refer to Clinton and Trump as “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber,” a phrase borrowed directly from the Nader campaign that remains as profoundly wrong now as it was 16 years ago. To this day I still hear people argue that the outcome of the 2000 election was Al Gore and the Democratic Party’s fault – that he wasn’t progressive enough and he took the Left for granted and he ran a crappy campaign. And: some of that is true! But good God, the punishment did not fit the crime! Why penalize the entire country for eight unbearably long and terrible years for the crimes of Al Gore’s clueless political strategists? Once again we are in danger of letting the left’s legitimate frustrations with the Democratic Party, and the nominee’s “likeability,” obscure the very simple fact that Hillary Clinton would be a much better and more progressive president than Donald Trump, even if she is not as progressive as you might like her to be.

What’s particularly horrifying is that Donald Trump would be a much worse leader than George W. Bush, a bottom 10 president who would probably be in the bottom 5 if not for the long succession of 19th century morons that plunged us into the Civil War. Whatever else you want to say about the man, I do believe that Bush meant well. That doesn’t excuse the horrors he visited on this country (and many others) but it is something. Donald Trump hits the jackpot of being both an execrable human being, and also dumber than George W. Bush by several orders of magnitude. The words that come out of his mouth about public policy – like how we should have “taken” Iraq’s oil to prevent the rise of ISIS– transcend partisan ideological differences by the sheer magnitude of their absurdity. What would we have taken the oil with? A Breitbart tote bag and some truck drivers from New Jersey? This is a man whose sentences literally do not make sense in the language they are spoken in.

The language they do make sense in is the lingua franca of reactionary racists, misogynists and bigots, people who have been dreaming their whole lives about how they can dominate and destroy anyone who isn’t like them, who resent the (incomplete, mostly half-assed and in some cases non-existent) steps we have taken as a society to treat women and minorities as equals, and who openly wish to return society to its pre-modern condition, in which straight white men could do and say whatever they wanted to anyone anywhere and if you got in the way you were enslaved or murdered or marginalized. This is why they love it when Trump says we should take Iraq’s oil. It used to be routine to invade and steal the resources of other societies. The fact that globalization has made the economic plight of some of these people somewhat worse does not mean that you should be ok turning power over to them. It is not going to make anything that currently bothers you about our politics or the Democratic Party any better. It is not going to cancel your student loans.

The reason for the headline of this article is not that Trump has spent his entire adult life aggrandizing himself at the expense of working people. Capitalism is lousy with this kind of garden-variety huckster and occasionally they slip into public office without lasting damage. It’s not his creepy children or the fact that he can’t spell or speak in complete sentences and has no idea how a bill becomes law or how treaties work or what is even in the United States Constitution and obviously detests women. These are real problems that should have prevented him from being the nominee let alone the president, but they are not Dinosaur Extinction problems. You should fear calamity because this dollar store Robespierre who has never held a single elected office in his life is truly dangerous. I have nightmares about him, and let me tell you: I didn’t have any nightmares about Mitt Romney or John McCain. I didn’t want them to be president, but in the short run we would have been just fine. True story: The President of the United States walks around all day trailed by an aide carrying a satchel with the nuclear launch codes. Donald Trump is a man with impulse control problems and no moral compass who has asked his advisors why we can’t use the nuclear weapons that we have. Do the math.

It is not difficult to imagine plausible scenarios that would bring us to the brink of nuclear obliteration. Trump has mused openly about blowing NATO apart and sports a barely contained man-crush on Russian President Vladimir Putin. If Trump succeeds in weakening NATO, it isn’t a stretch to imagine the Russians swooping in to reclaim the Baltic states, on the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians. He’s done this repeatedly, in both Georgia and Ukraine, only this time it would trigger an even graver crisis because the Baltic countries are in NATO, which in addition to being a fun acronym is also a mutual defense pact. Do you really want this guy – a man who can’t even control his anger toward Rosie O’Donnell in a nationally televised debate – running the show when that happens? This is to say nothing of all of the sub-apocalyptic crises his policies will trigger, like the global financial meltdown that will ensue when he starts his trade war with China.

You’ll notice I haven’t said much about Hillary Clinton. The salient fact here is that notwithstanding her flaws, she’s a better, more progressive option than Donald Trump. I think she’ll be a terrific president but I understand if you disagree. I would just ask that for now you settle for sanity. You can resume your inspirational struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party after November 8th.

I know that it’s not fair for the stakes to be this high for your first national election. It’s like if the casualties from a 47-car pileup were directed to your hospital on your very first night as an E.R. Resident. That is, however, the situation that we find ourselves in together. I don’t want to make you nervous, but if you make the wrong choice here you’re going to spend the rest of your adult lives cleaning up the mess of a Trump presidency in the same way we just spent 8 years dealing with the fallout of the Bush Administration– the tax cuts for the wealthy and whatever dark machinations Trump has in store for Latinos and Muslims and the racist fervor that will be legitimized by his victory. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenarios run from the dismantling of our democracy all the way up to a nuclear cataclysm. A vote for Johnson or Stein is not the progressive thing to do here. It’s not the right thing. And believe me, if the worst comes to pass, you will regret it, from the radioactive ash pits that will serve as your graves.

Thank you for listening to me.


David Faris is chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. His books Dissent and Revolution in a Digital Age: Social Media, Blogging and Activism in Egypt (2013) (Here) and Social Media in Iran: Politics and Society After 2009 (Here) (with Babak Rahimi) focus on the use of digital media by social movements.​


Related video added by Juan Cole:

BBC News: “Is Donald Trump a danger to national security? BBC News”

48 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    This must be quite the worst piece I have ever read by any of your contributors

    This incoherent rambling disjointed disorganised rant is quite unworthy of your site

    At no point does he explain his headline about a fiery apocalypse, but instead drags in a fantasy series about Zombies and some what ifs about the Russian president.

    As I trudged through the endless turgid prose i thought of Macbeth.

    “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
    Signifying nothing.”

    If I am being charitable I must assume the author “had drink taken”, as the Irish say.

    I agree with Hitchens even more after reading the nonsense

    “The world’s fixated on Trump. But Hillary could drag us ALL into a catastrophic war, writes PETER HITCHENS in America”

    A victory for Trump – decisive or narrow – will give astonishing powers to a lonely, inexperienced, ill-educated old man who (I suspect) is increasingly terrified of winning a prize he never really intended or expected to obtain.

    A clear victory for Hillary Clinton would create even greater problems. Educated, informed people here believe that there are serious doubts about her health. Even if they are wrong, her militant interventionist foreign policies are terrifying.

    I lived through the Cold War and never believed we were in real danger. But I genuinely tremble at the thought of Mrs Clinton in the White House. She appears to have learned nothing from the failed interventions of the past 30 years, and scorns Barack Obama’s praiseworthy motto: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’

    She will do stupid stuff, and drag us into it, you may rely upon it.

    How odd it is, to hear on the air the faint but insistent sound of coming war, here in this place of sweet, small hills, rich soil and wistful, mountainous horizons.

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  2. Hmm, “fiery apocalypse” sounds a lot like what the victims of Hillary’s bombings will experience.

    Also, I have to disagree with the following:

    But they also believe a lot of really preposterous and regressive things that would functionally obliterate modern society. The Libertarian Party platform explicitly calls for abolishing or repealing the following things: income taxes, Social Security, public education, the Environmental Protection Agency, Obamacare as well as and I quote, “all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.”

    This is not an inherently bad thing.
    * Income taxes SHOULD be repealed (and ideally replaced with a wealth, property, and environmental taxes).
    * Social Security SHOULD be abolished (and replaced with a universal basic income).
    * The EPA does more harm than good because their regulations target specific goals rather than general outcomes (cultural example: Ghostbusters 1984). Also, Gary Johnson supports a carbon tax, which is the ONLY effective way to handle the environment: by internalizing the negative externality of pollution.
    * Obamacare SHOULD be abolished, since it forces everyone to buy a private product in a market that shouldn’t even exist. This forces poor people to pay MORE on premiums while still not being able to afford the deductible.
    * We currently have too much government waste, INCLUDING the military, which Gary Johnson would also cut (though perhaps not as much as Jill Stein).

    I will, however, grant that the American Libertarian movement is mostly off its rocker with how far right wing many of them are, leading them to really just be in favor of privatized tyranny. However, the president does not have the power to unilaterally enact laws, only to enforce them. I would trust Gary Johnson to veto a lot of bills that should be vetoed. I would not trust Hillary to veto those bills because she’ll want to take credit. I would not trust Trump to veto bills because he will want to do it for his ego.

    Furthermore, I don’t really agree with most of the underlying assumptions here, such as:
    * If you’re a True Progressive(tm), you should vote for the Democrat / lesser evil because that’s better than the alternatives.
    * Al Gore totally wouldn’t have gotten into Iraq, despite giving a speech in 2002 about how we should get into Iraq.
    * If you don’t vote for [Democrat running in year 4*n], then you’ll let in the opponent who is literally Hitler and will cause the end of the world.
    * Gore lost because of those 40,000 Nader voters, and not because of the 300,000 FL Dems who voted for Bush. Or the fact that he lost NH. Or TN, his home state. Gore’s shitty campaigning had absolutely no bearing on his electoral failure, and neither did the Supreme Court.

    This really isn’t about “liberal > conservative” or “left vs right wing” when both parties hold functionally the same policies when it comes to the things that truly matter. At the end of the day, the simple answer is that candidates need to do better instead of trying to guilt voters. If you keep giving your vote away guaranteed, your issues will be ignored every time. That’s just simple game theory. People need to stop giving away their votes, and they need to do it for longer than one election.

    So yeah, basically, I would much rather have Trump in 2016 and someone better in 2020 than Clinton in 2016 and Ted Cruz in 2020. The funny thing is, if Ted Cruz was the nominee, I would agree that he needs to be stopped. He is 1000x worse than Trump easily, and more dependably so. Still wouldn’t vote, because of this thing called the Electoral College and the fact that I live in Alabama. But if I DO vote, it will be for a third party to get them more popular support. I cannot and will not support a system that is not working and is not addressing my needs and issues. That’s futile, and also political suicide as a voter. Instead, I’ll be directing all of my energy and organization away from electoral politics and into direct action… at least, until someone actually worth voting for decides to run.

    If that makes me “not progressive”, then I don’t care. I’m not here for the labels. I’m here for change.

  3. Even if you think HC is corrupt, dishonest, and too hawkish, Trump is still more dangerous. Even if you’re not concerned about the 20 million of us who have health insurance thanks to Obamacare, he will still be far worse than HC. Naom Chomsky is quite far to the left, and he advocates voting for HC if you live in a state that’s competitive. Math and logic tell us that, if you live in a state where the outcome is uncertain, if you don’t vote for HC, you effectively vote for Trump. You’re refusal to vote for the lesser evil, will bring us the greater evil. Unfortunately, there are only 2 possible outcomes in the race to the White House. I voted for Bernie, and I’ve voted 3rd party before, but Trump is an abomination and must be soundly defeated.

    • Any true Bernie supporter cannot with good conscience support either of the two establishment party candidates. Your weakness in your argument is asserting that Hillary is a lesser evil.

  4. Donald Trump has categorically ruled out using nuclear weapons in a first strike capacity. Hillary Clinton has not. Neither has Barack Obama. On this issue Trump is to the left of both Democrats.
    Noam Chomsky says Hillary has never seen a war she can’t support. She has recklessly called Putin the new Hitler. She was the most hawkish of Obama’s advisors. She says she will nuke Iran if she perceives it to be a threat to Israel – and she already deems Iran to be a threat to Israel. Using Victoria Nuland she precipitated an illegal coup in the Ukraine and then spouted nonsense about a Russian invasion. She is an interventionist while Trump is something of an isolationist. Hillary Clinton is the most dangerous person in the world.
    I strongly encourage young progressives and everyone else to vote for Jill Stein. A vote for Clinton is a vote for all of us to “die in a fiery Apocalypse.”

    • “Donald Trump has categorically ruled out using nuclear weapons in a first strike capacity.”
      Where and when did he say this, and even if so, why would you believe him? Trump is everything Prof. Faris said.

    • Since you’re referencing Chomsky, do some google searches to see what he says about Trump, and why he thinks Trump is the greater evil, and why voting for the lesser evil is the right thing to do.

  5. I have to admit I didnt read it all. But I scanned through and read this.
    “in both Georgia and Ukraine, only this time it would trigger an even graver crisis because the Baltic countries are in NATO”
    In GEORGIA !!
    Is this guy for real? Are you aware of what happened there? So basically this whole peace amounts to Russophobic scare mongering (just like what Hillary is doing as a last resort)
    Juan over the years I think you are losing more and more judgement with your posts.

  6. This entry couldn’t be truer, but didn’t mention another issue: the Supreme Court. We know that the next President will appoint at least one justice, Scalia’s replacement. With a liberal President, the Supreme Court can actually push back against the voter suppression laws springing up all over the country. But if Trump wins, we’ll have a conservative court *for a generation*. A court that will find some pretext to declare the ACA unconstitutional, or figure out some way to make it unworkable.

    It also means voter suppression laws that make it virtually impossible for poor people, and many young people, to vote, unless they can take a few days off from work or school, and spend a couple of hundred dollars, to dig up the proper documents.

    The Supreme Court is very powerful. They get to edit laws, and in 2000, they actually chose the President. Don’t let a protest vote today lock your generation out of the court system for 20 more years.

    • Thank you for mentioning this. I just don’t understand the folks who take wild stabs at predicting what Clinton’s foreign policy will be while ignoring the possible 30 year dominance of the no doubt ridiculous reactionary court he will have three or more appointments to. Citizens United, voter suppression, infiltration of every branch of government by christianist fanatics, more destruction of the middle class by predatory tax and monetary policy, the rise of dangerous racist, sexist, anti-immigrant forces,the destruction of the public sector, the privatizing of the public square, the continued denial of science in fighting global warming, which puts the whole planet in danger. If it’s a question of survival, there’s no choice here. Every president in my lifetime, except Jimmy Carter, has been an interventionist. We and the world have survived, not without casualties for sure, but because our system has built in restraints and we as a people have the freedom to protest and effect policy. But do any of you think that the impulsive trump, of questionable intelligence, of clear psychological problems and hair trigger anger, can be restrained?! He will surround himself with sycophants and apocalyptic religious fanatics, and none of these people will stop him, no matter how destructive his actions. They couldn’t even get him to prepare for a debate! I winced a bit when I read the professor’s letter, but he made the effort to talk some truth. I just don’t get how so many of you are willing to ignore it. Please, use your brains, be strategic. A big Bernie turnout for Clinton gives him and other progressives new strength in the halls of power, and leverage to hold her to the agreements she made in the platform. A victory for trump leaves progressives on the outside looking in, again. This new voting generation experienced being an electoral force. Now’s not the time to abandon that, it’s time to use it. Voting is power. Use it wisely.

  7. Of course, if you vote for Hillary “more muscular policy in the Middle East” Clinton, you may, or may not, still die in a fiery apocalypse, but thousands and thousands of innocent people in the Middle East most assuredly will.

    Trump may be as bad a choice as Clinton, but he will not be any worse. Send the oligarchs a message. Vote third party, any third party, in 2016.

    (I hope some readers will see this response before it is scrubbed, which it almost certainly will be.)

  8. Valerie Landgraff

    “The race was shockingly close. Gore won the popular vote. But he lost narrowly in the Electoral College after an absurdly close race in Florida was resolved by a genuinely ludicrous Supreme Court decision that had to have been written with a knowing smirk. Had even a miniscule percentage of Nader’s 97,421 Florida votes gone to Gore, George W. Bush would never have been president. Very few people who have studied the Florida vote dispute this.”

    OK, actually there are pages of disputes about this Ralph Nader effect but what about the supposed hundreds of thousands of voters whose votes were not counted? Or the wink and nod from the SCOTUS decision? Or that the electoral college didn’t support the popular vote? None of those matter, only Nader’s votes made the difference? Do you realize how that sounds?

    “The predictable fiasco of his 8 years in office happened because progressives (back then we just called ourselves liberals) couldn’t tell the difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Many stayed home because the outgoing Clinton Administration did some things that turned out not to be very progressive at all, and people were super frustrated and kind of bored. Some voted for Bush.”

    So the Democrats haven’t learned how to keep their electorate happy but … it’s all on the millennials to fix that up and keep them in power because the alternative? There’s no interest in actually making the democrat party more responsive to its electorate’s needs?

    How about all the difficulties the DNC has with morals and scruples and whatnot in cheating to keep Bernie from becoming the candidate, because they planned on Hillary as the candidate from the beginning? Do they realize that an actual vote at convention would have probably put this to rest? Were they that scared of the outcome?

    This article doesn’t seem to address the things that are bothering millennials about voting for Hillary or how continuing to vote for a party that is not making its electorate happy is going to change that party – instead they seem to be asking the electorate to change it’s priorities.

    Here they sit again, with a critique of not having been very progressive at all and people are frustrated. Fear is not a good reason to vote for someone, and at some point the Democrats are going to have to realize their ‘lesser of two evils’ argument is really stupid when they could be the ‘good’ instead. They have had every opportunity to work for the people, but in so many ways they chose to stick with working for their corporations, and then they wonder why people are disenchanted?

    It would go a long ways if President Obama weren’t pushing the TPP, or if Hillary even asked him not to, but instead she has surrounded herself with pro-TPP transition team, pro-TPP VP, and she herself has only changed her mind during this campaign on the golden standard of trade agreements she liked not so many months ago. There are some good critiques of the dems that should not have been glossed over with fear.

    In the end, how do democrats continue to support their rightward drifting party when it happily splits and pits the party against one another to keep its agenda intact? And then uses fear of the other party as its main party whip..

    So, say the millennials vote for Clinton. In 16 years, what will change with the Democrats that they will be a party that does not have to divide and conquer its own, or scare them into voting for them?

    • “Or that the electoral college didn’t support the popular vote? None of those matter, only Nader’s votes made the difference? Do you realize how that sounds?”
      It sounds factual. The electoral college isn’t obliged to follow the popular vote, that’s the point of having an electoral college.
      And no one cheated Bernie. He lost the popular vote. Or now you decided the popular vote shouldn’t matter?

      • The electoral votes from Florida were stolen outright in 2000 by a criminal and treasonous US Supreme Court. The Congressional Black Caucus protested but they couldn’t get one Senator to assist them, unfortunately.

    • The point is not that only Nader made the difference. The point is that in a close election, many things can make the difference, and Nader was certainly one of them.

      I certainly understand why Ralph (who I once worked for) and the people who voted for him don’t want to take responsibility for the disastrous eight years that followed. Who would? And no, it’s not all their fault. But to pretend that Gore would not have followed better policies on at least some important issues — climate change, for instance — is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

  9. A fine post, and it must be shouted to the skies for these last forty odd days before the election. We refer to the body politic. As such, what we are seeing is massive organ failure, brought on by multiple morbidity. I’ve referred before to the dread nexus – a country with massive power has a confluence of several factors – nay numerous ones, including inherent racism encoded into its DNA, a historic hatred and exploitation of its southern neighbors, an ignorant populace with massive kill power at its hands, a moribund press, venal office seekers, with economic and moral malaise both providing a fulcrum for all of the above. There are no doubt other organ failures, each feeding off of the other, that I am probably missing. We historians are in part to blame for being too dismissive of moral causality in undermining republics, having rejected the analysis of ancient writers such as Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus.

    Now in a fit of pique the demos is about to self-immolate. Worst of all, in a sense it already has. The republicans have betrayed every patriot whose bones rest from the shores of Normandy to the deserts of north Africa, for they have embraced the ideology against which our fathers and grandfathers fought in the Second World War. I will not mention the candidate’s name anymore, but those who support him, and the press, are as guilty as he is in their support of him. I no longer recognize half my fellow citizens as citizens, and will not dignify them with the name Americans. This very candidacy has, as far as I am concerned, delegitimized the GOP and their supporters, for they see what it is and do not denounce but run to embrace it – oh, cupido dominandi cunctis adfectatibus flagrantior est! You do not run on hatred, violence, death, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. I would not welcome a Nazi in my company, and so I would not those who embrace this carneficious creten.

  10. I’m voting my pocket book. I get free health care ( Medicaid) thanks to the ACA. I’ll lose that under Trump, and things will be more difficult.

  11. Dear Landgraff and McCool:

    You are both utterly wrong-headed and historically ignorant – the GOP candidate is an existential threat. Period. Read up a bit about Germany in the 30s, and see how Nazis treated even their fellow Ubermensch in, say, Norway. Clinton is not perfect, but don’t let that be the enemy of the good and hurtle us all into Tartarus. I’ll take the oligarchy over ochlocracy and its fellow traveler idiocracy at the drop of a hat.

    • Grumpy,
      Isn’t that what Hitler did? Scare mongering everybody about the Russians to the east? Used a personal server to bypass the state and leaked (deliberately or accidental) state secrets? The Russians hacked us! Cheated your pay to the top of the party and used Bernie Sanders? The Russians again! Launched illegal wars and bombed Syrian Troops? Look the Russians! Pushed the world to brink of Nuclear war re Nato? Look the Russians! Worried about losing to the other guy who favours diplomacy? The Russians are coming! They hacked our cell phones! Comparisons to Hitler are pretty lame – even Hillary did it re Putin. Smacks of desperation… but I suppose when the economy is this bad what else can we expect? This website knows quite well the things a superpower has to resort to when losing its grip, its just some people still can’t believe it would be their party doing it. I watch from the UK. It is sad.

      • Your comment is ahistorical. Hitler tried to gin up a war with Russia and succeeded. Putin is a bad actor, but I doubt that HRC would be as reckless as the opposition. However for me Russia is besides the point. Mr. T. is prima facie an open racist, bigot, and proud instigator of racial violence and hatred, not to mention a misogynist. I for one value a woman’s right to choose, the continued march of LGBTQ rights, legalizing weed, better access to healthcare and food security. nd I value these things for my neighbors. You really think that creature from the GOP will do any of that?

        My voting for HRC has nothing to do with alleged re-ginning up of the Cold War. It has much more to do with the lesson of the 20th century, to wit: when some know-nothing says he is going to commit war crimes, mayhem, and openly discriminate against others to the point of humanitarian catastrophe, you believe them. My now elderly relatives from Norway and Denmark who lived under the Nazi heel for five grievous years would find many of the comments in this thread risible, were they not so horribly wrong-headed. Yes, I disagree with much of HRC’s foreign policy, and I find it painful as a Green Party member to support her. But tell me with a straight face, from what you have witnessed of the Opposition, that he is fit for office. What world does anyone inhabit that makes this so?

        How is a man who calls for the execution of five innocent men in a full page ad who were later acquitted, a man who degrades women publicly, a man who lies as though mendacity were encoded into his DNA, who sets up a false university, who uses charitable giving as a personal piggy-bank, who is now under investigation for tax evasion, who fat shames, name calls, incites hatred against Muslims, even comparable? Where is our people’s sense of dignitas? Clinton is imperfect and hated because she has had to make horrible (and sometimes wrong) and tough choices on public policy. The Opposition has never held public office, there is no record, and utterly unknown, but he has a personal record of very publicly acting in the most cruel, inciteful, perilous manner, with vulgar rhetoric thrown in for good measure, and can already fairly be said to have deeply degraded and imperiled our democracy.

        If you want a better government then work like hell for it. And if you don’t like Clinton, then work to hold her to account – yes, even for the war crimes of which she may eventually be guilty, along with every other president from Truman on. Had we more accountability we would not find ourselves in this predicament. I write to my congressmen, to the president, to my representatives, to the papers. Sometimes, if you do the same, you might find yourself listened to and published – indeed you may influence policy, if only in a very small way. Che sorpressa!

        The opening comment in this thread quotes MacBeth; but if you want to see the fearsome results of ideological purity, I suggest everyone read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which encapsulates the disastrous results of such purity for the Roman republic. Our republic has a gun pointed to its head. It is appalling how many are willing to pull the trigger.

      • Comparisons to Germany in the thirties are due to the resurgence of nativism- the calls for banning a religion, deporting millions of illegal aliens, building a wall. Tapping into and strengthening white nativism\racism is the similarity between Trump and Hitler.

        • You are absolutely right on this. I see no reply to rbtl so will reply to it in this thread. Just google “Trump Central Park Five”. There are a myriad articles on this.

      • True. We suffered a massive redistribution of wealth to the top, our public lands were looted, there was no longer an organized labor movement worth mentioning, and the new Jim Crow was born, but we did survive. We’re a resilient species.

  12. David, I am your age. I grew up and lived through the 2000 election fiasco, the devastatingly maniacal Iraq War that cost the lives of tens of thousands Iraqis–not to mention our own killed and wounded, and George Bush generally running the country into massive debt. You know who was helping him do all of that during his presidency–voting with him every step of the way, not only for war, but for the Patriot act that massacred civil liberties? You know who said not a word about “harsh interrogation practices?”, i.e. torture? I think you know.

    I am African-American. Care to guess who helped build the school to prison pipeline which has mass-incarcerated Black and Brown people in this country? Who called Black gang members “Super Predators”? Who supported the dissolution of Glass Steagall? Who supported “Welfare Reform,” NAFTA, the tax repatriation holiday of 2004 for corporate tax dodgers and cheats at 5%?

    Who supported the TPP, before she was against it? Who supported a disastrous coup in Honduras? Who supports Israel in whatever it does to the Palestinians–no matter how many Palestinian women and children die from the bombs that we supplied them?

    Who has refused to release the transcript of well-paid speeches to Wall Street corporations, but somehow wants us to believe that she’ll reign them in and look out for the little guy? Who pushed for our involvement in Libya, something the President called his worst decision as President? Who is currently in favor of a more “muscular” intervention in Syria?

    Who benefitted from the DNC’s dirty treatment of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary? Who then hired the architect of the stop Bernie campaign? Who sought the support of Henry Kissinger, a war criminal of the highest order who walks astride the bodies of countless dead citizens of lands far away? I know you’re an X-er like me, but maybe you can talk to some people who lived through that time and see if they find you a bit too idealistic and naive, in the way that you are lecturing today’s Millennials.

    I am not a Millennial, but I can tell you this: If Trump becomes President and tries to do crazy stuff–which he most certainly will–the nation and both Houses of Congress will rise up against him. He will be stopped. That is not true of your candidate for president. She will not be stopped on any of her policies. Why? Because the DNC and the RNC are really one. They both play the same game, and they each of the same constituency–the Rich, the powerful, the corporations. When She sends our sons and daughters to ill-conceived wars while she rocks her grandchildren in her arms, you will defend her and support her because she was the “sane” choice. When she goes back on every single progressive promise she has so far made, you will rest easy because crazy Donald would have been worse. Your candidate is as dangerous as Mr. Trump, especially to people who live in places of the world that you and I never think about. Your critique is quintessentially American–It’s all about us surviving. The rest of the world be damned.

    Millennials get it. Some X-ers get it too. Better to die for what you believe in than continue to perpetuate a lie. That’s what you don’t get, Sir. But you will, soon enough.

    • “he will be stopped” – you are ignorant. Not if the GOP wins Congress and they pack the Supreme Court. The GOP has Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Iran, Womens’ right to choose, health care for children, etc. etc., in the cross hairs. If you want to set back and negate a century of progress on progressive issues and hurl an existential threat into the Oval Offfice, then by all means,vote for a vulgar orangutan that happens to have the power of speech. Bravo. Same goes for all of you other nay saying f******s. Gee, we don’t have ideological purity so we’ll just have scorched earth. Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

  13. So because democracts, I’m assuming like you, decided to hand the primary to a compulsive lying sociopath who is the face of political corruption, young Americans should just set aside our values and vote for her because you’re afraid of Donald Trump? I don’t think so. An independent at the Presidential podium is less than 3 elections away because young Americans aren’t stupid enough to listen to hack articles like this.

  14. Given the obvious incompetence and stupidity of Candidate Trump ,if elected,,any determined enemy would pick a new Trump presidency as the best time to attack the United States.

    • do you think that the military stands down during a Presidential transition ?
      Do you know anyone in the military ?

      • The US military is a completely worthless pile of garbage right now, because it’s run by the generals for the purpose of enriching military contractors. Not for the purpose of actually winning wars, which it never does.

        After it’s destroyed, obviously, the people of the US would scrape together a new military which would win, we’re good at that.

        • Quoting Nathanael on l016.09.30 02:22 – “The US military is a completely worthless pile of garbage right now.”

          A bit harsh? Confusing MIC contractor and method of acquisition relationships with the entire uniformed military is an overreach and disgraceful to those serving.

      • Typical Red Hat response, false assumption, patronizing, depreciating the six year Vietnam War vet. Trump supporters are a genuine threat to real Americans of every stripe.
        Quoting Brian 2015.08.18 01:08

        “I love Trump;
        I love that he’s running.”

        Your demented leader is UNFIT to lead.

  15. Let’s be honest. The New Democrats despise liberals, and have done everything in their power to get rid of us and everything we believe in. Now why would anyone in their right mind vote for such craven and corrupt individuals?

  16. HT to HH and Valerie. Yes SCOTUS is a problem and Trump is disaster in a suit, which increasingly is apparent even to staunch Republicans who eight months ago would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that they would never ever vote for a Democrat. But Major Disaster Trump does not nullify the problems of Hillary’s easy tendency for military intervention, her love of corporate money, or her uncritical support of perennial mid east antagonist Israel. Does Hillary love Israel or the US more? I really can’t tell so far. But if she favored the US at all her record of “extensive public experience” should somewhere include some truly strong, wise, presidential level criticisms of Israel illustrating the reality that Israel is more of a dangerous problem for the US than a solution, yet I don’t know of any.

    The writer spent an excess of patronizing words aimed at millennials when many other Americans of every age group have exactly the same concerns about the nation’s future, and that Hillary presents about as many threats to America’s future, including seas of fire and a lack of ice, as does Trump.

    I have spent most of my life voting against the worst candidate rather than voting for someone I felt was better qualified, and it has gotten beyond simply feeling very old into something that feels very much like personal abandonment of democracy. The Democrat party seems to have spent the same time period—that being my entire life—in a slow ooze into major disregard for human well-being in favor of currying corporate favor, ie, the people who buy our elections now. The Democrat primary campaign events of this past year are proof of behind the scenes manipulations that have handed voters the problem of figuring out how in the world to pretend Hillary’s deficiencies don’t exist, and to vote for her instead of the disaster Trump, rather than simply not voting, or making a equally useless protest vote for someone, nearly anybody, else. As passengers in America’s first billion dollar presidential election it is difficult to admit that a lot of herding has been going on. But the chickens have finally come home to roost and even they know that the lesser of two evils has this year become the lesser of too evils.

    • Have you run for office? Have you organized? Have you contacted a representative? A newspaper? Have you protested? Shit, I have an FBI file – do you?

      Change is hard hard work. People died to get African Americans at least a modicum of respect and representation in this country. Crap, we had a bitter war and an abolitionist movement to stop the obvious moral sewer of slavery and Jim Crow – and we are still fighting it in this election if we have not noticed. Who of us have organized a peaceful protest or act of civil disobedience in our communities?

      I wonder how many keyboarders here have really done anything to alleviate the shit that goes down in this country. Yeah, be aloof, wise, and hip and vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (Johnson? Really?) Then you can explain to hungry kids and impoverished elderly about the glories of your ideological purity. Laecasin! (As Petronius would say).

  17. Well, well mr H H Mc Cool. U just write like he speaks. Both candidates are the same? Both will bring a nuclear inferno so let’s vote third party to assure your prediction. Did you understand this article at all? Can you debate any of the article’s issues that differentiate these candidates? I challenge you to.

  18. Landgraff, McCool and James Reilly,
    I fully agree with you!
    It is morally bankrupt to stand by, let alone vote for, a candidate who has achieved this status by cronies having subverted the very foundation of our system: free and fair elections. If her failed foreign policies of the past are an indication of what’s to come, the poor people in the Middle East and others are done for. Millennials want peace, a safe environment, safe water and food, not more war and a sells-out to corporate elites, banks, and the perpetual war machine. The Dems had the perfect candidate and threw away their sure ticket to the White House. No other candidate in recent history had inspired so many young people to join the Democratic Party and vote in the primaries! But the Dems threw him under the bus.
    Now they try to scare, shame and bully those who don’t want to follow their rallying cry to vote for their pre-ordained corporate candidate. I don’t think so. Haven’t you learned anything as parents? You INSPIRE your offspring to follow your advice. Bullying and scare tactics usually backfire. The young ones are voting Jill Stein!

    • Bernie Sanders’ Former Staffer: “No One Stole the Election From Us”
      “NO ONE STOLE THIS ELECTION! Team Sanders we did AMAZING WORK. But we lost. It’s a hard reality for some.”

      link to

      • We ran an outlier candidate against an establishment pol and did not get a large enough majority of votes to overcome the establishment advantages, fair or unfair. Yet we became enough of an electoral force to allow Bernie to get many of the ideas we campaigned on into the Democratic platform. If we come out in numbers to vote Clinton over the top, we give Bernie and other progressive tremendous new strength in the halls of power, and give them voter backed leverage to press her when she tries to change the positions she promised to support. If we vote third party, or not at all, we will have shot ourselves in the foot again and will have completely wasted this revolutionary effort. leaving us once again on the outside looking in, complaining and whining like a lot of the folks writing here. Lets use our brains, think strategically. Voting is power. Don’t throw your vote away, use it. Be an electoral force, strengthen Bernie and others in the halls of power by making your vote count.

        • Agree. Clinton has agreed to push at least some of the things on Bernie’s agenda. If she’s elected with our support, she has every reason to follow through. If she’s elected without it, she has every reason to blow us off.

  19. Ok, I’m NOT a Millennial. I’m at the other end of the spectrum – a baby boomer. I’ve seen the greatest threat to the peace of the world from Vietnam-to Central America to Iraq and Libya. What worse can America do to the world? Oh, yes, start a war (nuclear at that) with Russia. And our wonderful mainstream media is starting the drumbeat like in 2002 and 2003. For American who believe we are the shining light on the hill and other fantasies, then yes, the status quo will do just fine, but us who seek justice in a world where our country tries to get along with the rest of the world rather than dominate, I think we need a new paradigm! Vote Jill and give our kids a chance!

    • 16 years of “party building” has taken the Greens from Nader’s 3% to Jill Stein’s 1%. I’m not impressed.

  20. Whatever. Shut up, condescending idiot.

    First lesson: the US has an electoral college. If you aren’t in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, or Florida, your vote doesn’t matter. Vote third party.

    Second lesson: even if Clinton wins the most votes in Florida, it’ll still be stolen. Remember 2000? So your vote doesn’t matter in Florida either (but vote there anyway).

  21. Some readers have no clue how accurate the article is about Donald Trump and the need to make sure our democracy isn’t completely derailed. Worst case scenarios have to be taken into consideration. There is also the issue that Donald Trump allows his strong obsessions to rule his thinking. This is not a healthy man.

    We also literally cannot afford to take a break from working on global warming for four years, assuming we even get our democracy back if Trump is elected. I’m sorry to say it, but David Faris nails it.

  22. The US seems to be able to absorb any amount of personal corruption. Trump could hold his head up in the company of Richard Daley or “Boss” Tweed.
    Endemic corruption, endless wars of aggression, pissing away the future, selling out the country. These are things Hillary is good at. Republicans have wet dreams over the way Democrats have run the country into the ground.
    I’m not clutching the Democrat viper to my chest by voting for more poisonous bites. It just ain’t happening.
    No matter who you think is most evil, Hillary is far more practiced in the black arts. A swathe of destruction follows her. A legion of undertakers is kept busy with her product. Kissinger couldn’t be more proud.
    Call me silly but what does the word of a war monger mean? About anything? Didn’t she read Myrtle the Turtle?
    Sometimes things get rough and chaos is your only friend, in the face of either the most corrupt or most evil, certainly the most hated candidates ever chaos will have some say.
    …Anyone who wants to understand the world of the working class (now mostly out of work) should read the books by Joe Bageant.

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