Some days, this is exactly how I feel:
The system is broken. It’s tainted and corrupt. Democracy itself is deeply flawed; it’s only as good as the electorate, and the electorate is a swine pit full of yahoos and holy rollers and used car salesmen.
But it’s the only system we’ve got.
So put away the torches and pitchforks. If democracy is a system that gives a voice to liars and scoundrels, chaos is worse, allowing the most unprincipled to freely claw their way to the top. We have to work within this system and get it to change.
I was unenthused about Clinton. She’s a creature of the establishment, and isn’t going to change the world, and in fact, will probably accentuate some of the worst features of the American way of doing things: a reverence for the status quo, a kind of selfish pragmatism, and a callous disregard for the billions outside of our borders. I’m even less happy with Kaine, because he seems to be the kind of blithe liberal who puts a smiling face on stasis. Worse, he’s a clear signal that the Democratic party has decided that the wretched boogeyman of Trump is so awful that they can just say “fuck you” to progressives and put up a slate of the same damned thing they always do and change nothing. What this country really needs for democracy to work is a sane, principled, responsible conservative party so that our liberal party has to really work to differentiate themselves…and so that when the liberals lose, as they do, the country doesn’t immediately descend into missile-launching, jesus-screaming, hate-mongering capitalist viciousness.
Resign yourselves. This isn’t the election that will revolutionize the country (we hope). November is a holding action. We need to hold the wolves at bay for a little longer, so vote for the Democrat at the top of the ticket. One immediate positive effect of electing Clinton/Kaine is that maybe the far right Republican party will react by becoming even more extremist and complete their self-immolation, so that a more rational party can emerge. (Unless they win, which means we’re in really big trouble for at least a generation, so don’t let them win).
Then please pay attention to something other than the presidential elections. It’s a disgrace that we get almost 2 years of media hype building the process for this one office into a giant suck of time and money, and then everything evaporates at the equally important mid-term elections, and the turnout drops off to shameful levels. Vote in every election, and for or against every candidate. Everything matters, your school board matters, your congressional representative matters, your senator matters, and yes, the president matters…but if we continue to elect the same idiots to the senate and house of representatives, the president matters less than you think.
But right now, we — and by “we”, I mean the Left, progressives and liberals and centrists, and even you so-called “classical liberals” and Libertarians and Rockefeller Republicans and cautious conservatives — have one job to do, and that is to stop the great orange fascist asshole from winning. That’s the number one priority for us all. Don’t screw it up. Don’t go flitting off to Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or some other spoiler. Hold your nose and vote for Clinton.
And if you don’t like the establishment Democrat — I don’t blame you at all — then work locally to get change in the years to come. Get good progressives into positions that can influence the government in productive ways. You don’t like the rules that rig the elections for establishment favorites, like this super-delegate nonsense, or the electoral college? Work to change those before they become a factor in future elections (I suspect everyone who is squawking now will forget about it immediately after this election, and then four years from now will start squawking in indignation again). If Clinton annoys you now, tough — she’s going to be the nominee. But you can support a primary challenge four years from now, if you start working now to build a climate that gives such a person a framework.
I swear, one of the worst things about the American system of democracy is the way we treat the trivial act of pulling a lever as the be-all and end-all of citizen involvement in politics, and the way this simple-minded approach to democracy leads to a crisis every four years.