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Friday, September 09, 2016

More than a protest

by digby

The Quinnipiac poll of four battleground states that came out yesterday has a bunch of interesting information. It's going to be a real fight. But this is a little bit alarming:

You'll notice that the 3rd party vote is pretty big there. Enough to make a difference.

I'm generally one who doesn't get too worked up about people voting third party and often can see the utility of doing it if it sends a message to one of the two major parties.  Unfortunately, when a Democrats loses it tends not to send the message those people want to send. When Democrats lose to conservatives they assume people wanted more conservatism. When conservatives lose to liberal they assume people wanted more conservatism. Maybe that will change if it happens this time but one suspects that if the Democrats lose to an authoritarian strongman and a libertarian they might very well conclude that their more progressive platform didn't get them very far.

Now I know that people will say it's really because they nominated a bloodthirsty right wing warhawk and what people really wanted was a left wing pacifist, but that's just not how people will look at it. Johnson is apparently taking more votes from Clinton (as is Stein but she's not registering more than a usual Green) and one suspects that's because of his positions on drug legalization and his "foreign policy." But he's strongly free trade and low tax and regulation and all kinds of stuff that greatly benefits the financial elites, which are the policies we can expect many members of the Democratic party to fall back on given the smallest excuse.

I'm not telling anyone how to vote.  Nobody listens to me anyway. But it's worth thinking a little bit about how votes might be interpreted this time, regardless of who wins.  Needless to say (I hope!) if Trump wins we will have much bigger problems. But even if Clinton wins, if a majority votes for Trump and Johnson, there will be tremendous pressure to interpret that vote as a sign that the Democratic party's  move to economic populism is not a winning platform.

I honestly have never wholly approved of any presidential candidate for whom I cast a ballot in my lifetime and Hillary Clinton is no different. These people are simply levers of power that the people hire  as a means of protecting our country and hopefully bettering our lives and the lives of the the citizens as a whole. They are tools --- and I don't mean that in the pejorative sense. (The symbolic significance of Obama's historic position as the first African American is one of those levers as would be her position as the first woman. It's in the mix.)

So I don't vote the way many of my friends do. I believe in "lesser evilism." But if I were the kind of person who felt she couldn't live with herself if she votes for someone who offends her, I think I could still vote for Clinton this time because of the closeness of the race and the nature of the opposition. And I could justify it beyond that by recognizing that by voting for her I'm voting for that platform --- an affirmative gesture for the Democrat party's move to the left. I don't want the party to backslide on the slow, inadequate but steady progress its made over the past decade and a half to be a more progressive party and I worry a great deal about the message that's will be received by a substantial 3rd party vote even if she wins with a plurality. You can be sure Republicans will make that case.

I realize that I'm considered a useless hack on this subject so take it for what it's worth. But I honestly do care about progressive policies and and a sane national security and civil liberties posture. I'm just trying to think through how this is all going to come out in the wash.