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.