An important article on the current election


This election has posed a serious problem for many voters in that the two major party candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have historically high disapproval ratings. What are those voters, especially on the progressive side, who are not tied rigidly to party loyalties supposed to do?

This article titled Thinking About the Election by Michael Albert and Stephen R. Shalom carefully compares the positions of the candidates, starting with the two major party ones.

Trump is a narcissistic, violent, lying, racist, misogynistic, ultra-nationalist bully. He says whatever he calculates will best promote himself. Is he a racist thug? Yes. Does he advocate total state control on behalf of private owners? Not yet. Is he a Mussolini in the making? Maybe.

Hillary Clinton is a leading representative of the neoliberal wing of the capitalist class and has helped move the Democratic Party from New Deal liberalism to pro-corporate liberalism. She is beholden to wealth and power and Sanders was correct to call her the candidate of Wall Street.

Yet as horrible as adherence to wealth and power is, it is unclear why many people see Clinton as massively worse than Obama or her husband, say. Clinton was one of the more liberal Democrats in the Senate, yet some progressives claim they prefer Reagan or even Trump over her. Perhaps these people are first discovering the horrors hiding behind fuzzy Democratic Party rhetoric. Or perhaps they are first directly experiencing the massive obstacle to fundamental change that is our corporate system, and their fury at that system is directed at Clinton alone rather than at her but also more widely.

The article then goes on to compare the two party platforms.

That party platforms and campaign promises are routinely violated is undeniable. Yet, even so, specific campaign pledges are often kept and members of Congress often vote in accord with their party platforms. The key determinant, though, is whether political pressure is brought to bear to compel compliance.

This year, the Sanders forces had substantial input into the Democratic platform. They didn’t get the language they sought on a bunch of issues, and on some (especially Palestine), they got nothing. But the document is still one of the most progressive in Party history:

  • a $15 an hour minimum wage, pegged to inflation (remember when that was a major left demand?)
  • working families should not pay any tuition to go to public colleges and universities,
  • 50 percent of the country’s electricity should come from clean energy sources within a decade,
  • federal legislation to protect the LGBT community from discrimination and transgender folks from violence,
  • repeal the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funds for abortion,
  • comprehensive immigration reform providing a path to citizenship for those without legal documents and in the meantime defending executive actions to prevent the deportation of DREAMers, parents of citizens, and lawful permanent residents, and an end to raids and roundups of children and families,
  • end mass incarceration, reform mandatory minimum sentences, close private prisons and detention centers, expand re-entry programs, require body cameras, stop the use of weapons of war in urban communities, end racial profiling, require the Department of Justice to investigate all questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings, end capital punishment, encourage the federal government to decriminalize marijuana.

Contrast that with the GOP platform, one of the most reactionary in history, which calls for a wall across the Mexican border, no amnesties, treating illegal immigrants as a major source of violent crimes; no abortions, even in cases of rape or women’s health; abolishing tenure; abstinence-only sex education; repealing the Affordable Care Act; characterizing coal as a “clean” energy source; a gay rights section that the Log Cabin Republicans called “the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history”; ending the Attorney General’s “campaign of harassment against police forces”; condemning the Supreme Court’s erosion of the death penalty; and eliminating the federal minimum wage.

Both platforms reflect a fundamental commitment to capitalist values. Nonetheless the differences they reveal in the two parties and the two likely emerging administrations would have significant human consequences.

The article then goes on to examine other important issues and also discusses at some length the role of the Green party and its leader Jill Stein and the conundrum posed by ‘lesser evil voting’ strategies.

It is a thoughtful article aimed at those who want to go beyond the superficial coverage of the campaign.

Comments

  1. John Smith says

    Well, Clinton is also pretty socially conservative – in the Senate and otherwise. Her foreign policy is I think the biggest problem with her.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    Trump is a narcissistic, violent, lying, racist, misogynistic, ultra-nationalist bully

    Good to see they didn’t resort to hyperbole. That might have risked the credibility of the rest of it.

  3. John Smith says

    2nd, Trump isn’t that different from other republicans. He just phrases his words in more racist rhetoric. Obama also “kills their families” and has a cruel mass deportation force. As you yourself have mentioned, in Israel due to Netanyahu’s racist framing, there was backlash. The same is likely to be true of Trump. Whereas with Clinton the racist policies she champions will not be questioned. Remember that Bill Clinton as Arkansas’ AG fought for cops’ right to racially profile. There was the crime bill she advocated for and Bill Clinton expressed doubts about a week before signing. Remember where she differed with McCain on foreign policy in the Senate? She is for torture. McCain is not. Remember “children as a message” when their troubles came from a coup she supported? I don’t know what her stance on private prisons is, but I am sure she is for mass incarceration.

  4. laurentweppe says

    What are those voters, especially on the progressive side, who are not tied rigidly to party loyalties supposed to do?

    They have a choice between lukewarm centrism with some skeletons badly hidden in the closet and far-rightism fueled by perverse nostalgia for the “good old days” when the well bred sons of white families were expected to lose their virginity by molesting their half sister born of the black housemaid’s rape by the master of the house.

    What was the question, again?

  5. says

    Yet as horrible as adherence to wealth and power is, it is unclear why many people see Clinton as massively worse than Obama or her husband, say.

    It’s not that unclear. It is almost amusing though how many people keep arguing that sexism doesn’t factor into this race. If this was Bill Clinton or Barack Obama it wouldn’t be anywhere near as close as it is now.

  6. John Smith says

    @6 Not foreign policy or the entire unmasking of the system? The greatest accomplishment of the Sanders campaign is showing how bad the entire political system is. Remember that most liberals thought democrats were okay just a year ago? Sanders and Trump in differing ways have unmasked the system that we’ve already had. Clinton is the symbol of that. She’s the obvious target considering her campaign. It takes two hands to clap – two bad parties make the system. Obama is mostly above the fray right now so his approval rating hasn’t taken a hit. And he actually is more independent from special interests than Clinton.

  7. Chiroptera says

    sonofrojblake, #2: Good to see they didn’t resort to hyperbole.

    On the other hand, it is disconcerting to have a situation where such an accurate description of Trump could be seen by some to be hyperbole.

  8. KG says

    I would have left out violent. – Saad

    Why? Trump has directly encouraged violence against peaceful protestors, has called for torture and the targeting of terrorists’ families, has hinted that Clinton should be assassinated; and does anyone even pretend to believe the mass deportation he promises could be carried out without systematic violence on a vast scale? There is also very good reason to suspect he raped his first wife, Ivana. There is nothing in the least hyperbolic about the description of Trump; it’s simply a factual description.

    It is almost amusing though how many people keep arguing that sexism doesn’t factor into this race. If this was Bill Clinton or Barack Obama it wouldn’t be anywhere near as close as it is now. – Tabby Lavalamp@6

    QFT.

  9. KG says

    Trump isn’t that different from other republicans. – John Smith@4

    This is absolute tosh of course. No other Republican presidential nominee has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the USA or building a wall along the Mexican border, encouraged Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons, nor received enthusiastic support from neo-Nazis, nor supported a conspiracy theory claiming a sitting president is lying about where he was born, or accused that president of founding an Islamist terror group. Nor have any since Goldwater half a century ago openly suggested they would use nuclear weapons in any situation other than the most extreme circumstances. Nor has any shown such complete ignorance of and indifference to policy questions.

  10. Saad says

    KG, #9

    I was just joking. I get the feeling sonofrojblake may be a Trump supporter. IIRC, I had a previous exchange with them where they insisted Trump will be good for foreign affairs because he’ll be isolationist (and their support for this was that he wants to ban Muslims and build a wall).

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