In the minds of ideologues and children

Oy, it’s starting already, the angry shouting from people outraged by the scandalous fact that some people are not excited about Hillary Clinton as a candidate for president and are talking about not voting for her when and if the time comes. It’s the 2000 campaign all over again.

The shout goes like this: the Democratic Party candidate is all there is. You can’t vote for someone to the left of that candidate, because that is taking your vote from the Democratic Party candidate and giving it to that outsider person. That’s reality. You have to submit to it.

There’s one example at Addicting Info:

Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton’s announcement on Sunday was met with laments from the left that Hillary is not a “real” progressive and that liberals shouldn’t settle for the “lesser of two evils.” Gee whiz! I wish Warren or Sanders would run!

Yawn. Another round of liberal hand-wringing that will do nothing but leach enthusiasm from a critical race.

Hello? It’s April 2015. The election is more than a year and a half in the future. Clinton has only announced that she’s running; she hasn’t actually sewn up the nomination yet; that won’t happen for more than a year. It’s way too early to start telling us we have to shut up and lump it because she’s all there is.

But anyway that wouldn’t be a good thing to say even if it were the day after the primaries and she the candidate. It’s never a good thing to say. Our votes are our votes, and we are not stealing them from the major party candidate by voting for someone we think better.

Also? We’re not so stupid that we don’t know the obvious facts. We don’t need to be told for the 90 thousandth time that a minority candidate can’t win. We realize that. There’s no need to keep shouting it in our faces.

Is Hillary Clinton the perfect liberal candidate? Of course not. There is no such thing except in the minds of ideologues and children. Every politician ever, including, yes, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have made compromises or have taken stances that some part of the left will find “problematic.” The Green Party will not magically be immune to lobbyists and influence peddlers. “Voting all the bums out” will not miraculously replace them with paragons of unassailable integrity. It won’t happen. Ever.

Letting an imaginary perfect be the enemy of the tangible good is a sure way to place our country under the yoke of another generation of a conservative pro-business, pro-fundamentalist, pro-hate Supreme Court.

Liberals are the reality-based community. Time to start acting like it and vote for change we can actually achieve.

Or, alternatively, we could vote for the candidate we would like to see win.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    You absolutely should vote in the primary for you favorite. Even if it’s a write-in. And in all elections except for POTUS, one should vote one’s conscience. However, because of the SCOTUS, I think it really is necessary to hold your nose and vote for the leading non-Republican, no matter who it is. We just can’t afford another John Roberts, let alone the distinct possibility that we could get another Clarence Thomas.
    (Just my opinion, of course)

  2. MyaR says

    Isn’t it exactly that attitude (perfect is the enemy of winning! Submit to the most “central” candidate because they’re realistically capable of beating this theoretical opponent that no one who was polled actually knows much about!) that’s gotten us to where we are, Overton window-wise? If the known lefties are seen to be fine with Candidate X who is not just problematic, but actually rightwing on some issues, then they must not actually be that rightwing in those attitudes, so what’s the problem with deregulation again?

    Compromising so far that you end up indistinguishable from the other end of the political spectrum (or allowing them to go far beyond what was considered a tenable position even a decade ago) might end up putting you on the “winning” side, but if that side is still the wrong side of important issues, who’s really won?

    In other words, I don’t care about winning elections so much, I care about winning issues, and this attitude is about the former.

  3. moarscienceplz says

    Of course, if you live in a solid red or solid blue state, go ahead and make a statement even with your POTUS vote.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    MyaR, I refer you to Florida in the 2000 election. If those people who voted for Nader because of their deeply held convictions had been more pragmatic, we wouldn’t have the Citizen’s United decision, or the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. I also think there’s a case to be made that a President Gore administration might have prevented the 9/11 attack, and almost certainly would not have invaded Iraq.

  5. freemage says

    MyaR: It comes down to timing, I think.

    During the primary, yes, I’m going to push for the most liberal/progressive candidate I can find. If they make it to the ticket, hooray! If not, I’ve likely succeeded in forcing the centrist winner to make some concessions.

    Once we hit the general election, then all bets are off. Hold nose, vote for the best candidate available who has a chance to win, and go on from there.

    And this next election is crucial. We’ve got a likely 4 SCOTUS nominations coming up, and it’s bad enough that they’re likely to be facing a Senate that ranges from fillibuster-prone to outright hostile. Having a GOPper (especially one elected with Tea Party permission) in the top spot guarantees decades of retrograde rulings, even if we manage to get a veto-proof majority after two years and the incumbent turns out to be one-term-only.

  6. says

    Well, to be fair, I suppose I should add to these rants that Washington state was not a risky state when I voted for Nader, and if it had been I would have voted for Gore. And still I got yelled at!

  7. Bakunin says

    Holding my nose while eating shit doesn’t change the fact that it’s shit. I’ve come to see the U.S. presidential elections to be a complete farce. The flaws of first-past-the-post voting, lack of any representative parties, wealth disparities between ‘representatives’ and constituents, and the disproportionate weight given to states instead of actual voters destroys any faith I have in my vote actually representing my choice or beliefs.

  8. says

    I’m not a big fan of Hillary. So I’ll be considering any other primary candidates.

    If I were really serious about it, I suppose I would have to run myself. But, with all of the big money in politics, that would require selling my soul. And then I would be no better than those that I criticize.

  9. freemage says

    Ophelia: I’ll definitely concede that the issue of living/not living in a ‘swing state’ is a factor to be considered. Protest votes in solid red/blue states are far safer and less likely to produce a foul outcome.

    Bakunin: The fact that the only thing to choose from is shit and other shit doesn’t change the fact that you’re starving, either. Yes, the system sucks. But unless you’re advocating a violent overthrow of the government, your options are to work within for incremental changes, or opt out. Folks who opt out are part of the reason the system is so hard to change, even incrementally.

  10. says

    Freemage, to continue the analogy:

    Shit isn’t really nutritious. Yeah, you got shit and shittier in front of you. Don’t blame the people who go looking for real food because they’d rather starve seeking than starve filling their bellies with shit.

  11. lpetrich says

    Sociololgist Maurice Duverger himself explains “Duverger’s law”: Duverger: The Electoral System.

    (1) a majority vote on one ballot is conducive to a two-party system; (2) proportional representation is conducive to a multiparty system; (3) a majority vote on two ballots is conducive to a multiparty system, inclined toward forming coalitions.

    The first one is first past the post, and the third one top-two runoffs.

    The brutal finality of a majority vote on a single ballot forces parties with similar tendencies to regroup their forces at the risk of being overwhelmingly defeated. …

    In a system of proportional representation, the situation is quite different. The very principle of proportional representation explains the multiplicity of parties it produces. Since every minority, no matter how weak it may be, is assured of representation in the legislature, nothing prevents the formation of splinter parties, often separated only by mere shades of opinion. …

    In a system in which elections arc decided by a majority vote on the second of two ballots, political parties are numerous because the existence of a second ballot permits each party to test its chances on the first one without risking irrevocable defeat through the splintering of parties holding similar views; the regrouping occurs on the second ballot through the game of “withdrawals.”

    So proportional representation is the best way to get a variety of opinion represented.

  12. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    So, in essence, a Gore presidency wouldn’t have been any different than a Bush presidency, and those 500 or so votes for the Greens were demonstrably non-essential to the outcome of the 8 years of presidency that followed. This “They’re both the same in the same ways and only different where it doesn’t matter.” is bullshit.

    You’re not going to get the candidate you want until you run for office, and then maybe everything will align with your politics.

  13. sawells says

    @11: there is also the simpler option of approval voting, where each voter simply indicates for each candidate whether they approve or not (a “one vote per person per candidate” system), and the most approved candidate wins. This allows the existence of very similar parties and “trial balloon” candidacies, as the “splitting the vote” problem no longer exists, and it is simpler than transferable votes. Given another few centuries maybe somebody will start using it.

  14. freemage says

    Ipetrich: I’m also fond of ranked votes with an elimination protocol–it uses only one ballot.

    Everyone who qualifies to get on the ballot is listed, for a total of X slots. You rank your preferences, from 1 to X. You can always just vote X for anyone you don’t want to support at all.

    If no candidate wins a majority of “1”s, then the candidate who got the fewest “1” votes is eliminated. If you placed that candidate as a “1”, then all your other ranks subtract 1, and get counted again. (So now, your number 2 vote is treated as a number 1 vote). Wash, rinse and repeat, until you’ve got a majority candidate.

    It really does encourage protest and minority party voting, without causing those who do so to give a ‘free’ vote to the opposition.

  15. johnthedrunkard says

    The presidential elections are so far along the chain of causality in our political mess that at least SOME ‘nose-holding’ votes are a civic duty.

    But we wouldn’t be in this mess if t hadn’t been for the patient, off year, stealth candidate, infiltration of or legislative branch by far right lunatics, libertarians, Xtian dominionists etc. etc.

    So we have already seen our ‘frozen’ system changed…for the worse. As distressing as that is, it demonstrates that a committed class of voters (and especially DONORS) can alter the political landscape.

    Multi party systems? Let’s see if we can get back to a TWO party system first. The other way lies governments like Israel’s where lunatic fringe-parties can hold the entire government hostage by their presence in weak coalition regimes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *