Why, in the end, I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton

Ted Grimsrud—November 4, 2016

Few of the people I know, even those who strongly supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, are agonizing about their presidential vote next week. It is clear to just about everyone in my circles, it seems, that Donald Trump’s unacceptability as president could not be more clear. Hence, a vote for Clinton is a no-brainer.

Thinking in the context of the electoral college

I have been unsure, however. Not that I would imagine voting for Trump. Not that I don’t believe that Trump would be a complete disaster as president, a horror beyond imagining. But it seems important to me to recognize that our presidential election, given the undemocratic reality of the electoral college, is actually 50 different elections. As we learned in 2000, the winner of the national popular vote will not necessarily win the election.

So, the particular election I am voting in is the election that will determine the votes of Virginia’s members of the electoral college. This fact is important to keep in mind as I reflect on my struggle to discern how to cast my ballot. It is altogether possible that if we did go by the popular vote, I might decide to vote for Clinton—not so much as a vote for her as for a vote that would prevent Trump’s election (I made this kind of argument for voting for Obama in 2012—whereas in 2008 I happily [and naively] voted for Obama, believing at least a little in the hopey, changey stuff).

It is also altogether possible that if I lived in a state such as Ohio or Florida, where the outcome seems very much in doubt and whose electoral votes will be crucial to the outcome, I would vote for Clinton.

But those are irrelevant considerations for me as a resident of Virginia. In a stark contrast to 2000, when I voted for Ralph Nader because Virginia was in the bag for George Bush (meaning a vote for Albert Gore seemed like a wasted vote), now it seems as if Virginia is in the bag for Clinton. I am glad for this for two reasons—one is that I do want Trump to lose, the second is that I feel freer to think of my vote as one I can cast based on my ideals than simply a vote to prevent a worse evil happening.

So, I expect to vote for Jill Stein. Not because I seriously imagine her as president. And not as a “protest” vote against Clinton (or Trump). But as a tiny, quite insignificant but still real statement that our country needs to change direction quite radically. We need to commit ourselves to democracy, not plutocracy. We need to envision working for peace and not ever more warism. And we need dramatic action to counter the devastating effects of climate change. These are issues that are central for Stein’s Green Party (and not so much for Clinton’s campaign).

It is easier for me to imagine that the Green Party and other progressive forces might gain traction and move the U.S. toward genuine change than it is that Clinton would actually become a progressive president (though, should she be elected, I will work to push her in that direction).

I should also note that I do not find the idea of deciding not to vote out of some kind of faith conviction to be remotely attractive. That stance seems to me to be part of a futile quest for purity, a stance outside the corruption of our political world. At the same time, I don’t find voting in presidential elections to be very important. This year, more than ever before, we see the profound brokenness of our political system that offers such inadequate options—especially in light of the enormous problems that require attention. Voting seems like one tiny thing that we can do, but our political responsibility is much bigger and more widely encompassing than simply voting once every four years.

Clinton as part of the problem

What it comes down to for me is the conviction that in most of the key social problems that we face in our society now, Clinton has been and will continue to be part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Issues I will name include the strangling impact of big banks and big corporate influence in general (the forces that have forked over more than $200 million to Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 16 years since the end of Bill’s presidency), the epidemic of mass incarceration (fueled in part by Bill Clinton’s crime bill, supported by Hillary Clinton with her now infamous warning about “super predators”), climate change (linked with the influence of some of Clinton’s largest bankrollers in the corporate world and linked also with the practice of fracking, something she has until very recently strongly supported), the privatization of education, including higher education (I recently learned how Bill Clinton was paid $17.6 million to be the honorary “chancellor” of the for-profit college company Laureate International Universities), ever growing inequality and racial injustice (along with Bill Clinton’s crime bill, his welfare reform legislation, also strongly supported at the time by Hillary Clinton, has had a devastating effect), and the blank check the U.S. has given Israel in its efforts to crush the Palestinians (Clinton has been a strong supporter of Israel’s far-right Prime Minister Netanyahu). I could mention numerous other issues as well.

The biggest issue for me, though, is American militarism and imperialism. I suspect that Clinton’s presidency is almost certain to be a failure, and one of main reasons is her commitment to warism, to growth in an already obscenely destructive and wasteful military budget, to intensifying conflicts in various global points of tension—most frighteningly in her apparent desire to push toward a new Cold War with Russia, one that all too easily could turn hot.

Just about every other major problem in our society—the ones I mentioned above and many others—is exacerbated by our militarism. I see no way that Clinton can move us toward positive outcomes in these other areas while she also ratchets up our warism. President Obama, due I’d say to his basic human decency, his rhetorical gifts, and the contrast he offers with the extraordinary corruption of the Republican Party, will end his presidency on an uptick. And probably after a term (or possibly, though not likely, two) of Clinton as president, Obama will look even better. But in the long run, the Obama presidency will go down as a period where the biggest problems were not addressed even close to adequately. And this failure will have a lot to do with Obama’s own warism. However, compared to Clinton, Obama stands as a military moderate—the story is that during her years as Secretary of State, she generally stood in tension with Obama and sought more militaristic policies).

What’s “realistic”?

One of the big tragedies I perceive in the current presidential campaign is the uncritical support that so many “progressives” are giving Clinton. As I mentioned above, I could imagine voting for her if our electoral process were different or I lived in a different state. But in that case, I would feel even more bound to voice opposition to so many of these things she stands for, again most importantly her warism.

One of the biggest responsibilities progressives have is to utilize this period during the campaign season (what George W. Bush famously called the “accountability moment”) to put as much pressure on Clinton as possible to move away from that warism. However, I have seen little evidence of such pressure.

In face of our runaway militarism and imperialism, it seems much more “realistic” to me that progressives would vote for the Greens and not Clinton whenever that didn’t make it more likely Trump would win a battleground state. This is more realistic because our survival, our ability actually to make significant progress on these various social problems, requires saying no to Clinton’s warist agenda. It seems utterly unrealistic to imagine that comfortable affirmation of her candidacy without the pressure right now while she is most likely to listen will have any result other than acquiescence with more and more warism.

“Christian” reflections

I have not yet referred to my convictions as a Christian. So I’ll conclude with a few “Christian” thoughts. I would say, on the one hand, that everything I have written here comes out of my faith in Jesus and his way. On the other hand, given how so many Christians right now are embarrassing themselves and their religion in their support for Trump, and given how other Christians seem to be intent on standing above the fray and seeking for some kind of peaceableness (or “niceness”) that transcends political partisanship and presents Christians faith as a “safe space” for both Republicans and Democrats, it seems best not to say too much about Christian faith in relation to the election.

I do think Christian support for Trump is an embarrassment. And I also think that the effort to place Christianity above the fray conveys a commitment to niceness over truth and justice. It seems to me that the main significance of Christian faith for our current context is that it provides a powerful impetus for followers of Jesus to engage in the midst of the fray and to seek with wholehearted commitment to struggle for genuine shalom in our broken society.

Such a struggle though, as always, is difficult and complicated. I perceive, paradoxically, that the way forward is not to link closely with a particular partisan political agenda, nor is it to avoid engagement in partisan politics. The challenge we face is to keep our core convictions about the value of all human life, the way of peace, and rejection of domination at the center. Then we support policies that are at least somewhat congruent with those convictions, but also remain always open to outside the box, on the margins, creative spaces where new things can be imagined and embodied, often independent of established state-centered politics.

So, we vote in the presidential election with a sense of perspective. It matters only a little in the context of our work for social healing. What matters much more is how we take responsibility after the election to seek “the peace of the city where we live” (Jeremiah 29:7)—a quest that almost for sure will mean resistance to the warism of either Clinton or Trump.

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38 Comments

Filed under American politics, Empire, Militarism, peace theology, Warism

38 responses to “Why, in the end, I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton

  1. Deborah Penner

    Ted, I have enjoyed reading your blog and the intellectual process you engage so honestly. However, I cannot share your view that a vote for Jill Stein is good in any way. How can we as white persons with many advantages disregard the needs of our fellow human beings of color, those who are poor, or those without healthcare? For me, a vote for Clinton is to vote on the side of compassion (despite her affiliation with war).

  2. stevenjohnson310513333

    In addition to the reasons you have stated so well in your piece, I am voting for Jill Stein because if the Greens get 5% of the popular vote, they will receive federal funding which could help them become a more serious contender in 2020 and attract better candidates. I wish there had been a concerted independently organized campaign centered around precisely this approach: Promote voting for Clinton in the swing states and Stein in the other states, with the twin goal of stopping Trump and gaining federal funding for the Greens.

    Especially in states where Trump is very likely to win, I see little or no tangible benefit that can be achieved by voting for Clinton, as it will not affect who occupies the Oval Office this January. The only significant tangible effect a vote in such states can have, as far as I’m aware of, is to help a third party – e.g., the Green Party – to obtain federal funding, because, unlike the question of who wins, the funding issue is based on the popular vote, not the electoral college.

    In response to Deborah Penner’s comment, it bears mentioning that mass incarceration, warism, and climate change – all promoted and/or worsened by the net effect of the Clintons’ actions, disproportionately harm people of color. The platform of the Green Party, on the other hand, advocates serious solutions.

  3. Gary

    Thanks, Ted! Here in Oregon we are able to select from a number of alternatives to R and D candidates. Yesterday, I voted for Green Party candidates whenever I could through our mail-in voting process. This meant voting for Jill Stein, as well. The Pacific Green Party has had our support since we moved to Oregon in 1991. We were part of one of the first organizing attempts to form a formal party at Laurelhurst Park in Portland. I don’t find it difficult voting for a political party so small. It goes with being on the fringe as a Christian Pacifist and having identified with Anabaptists.

    • I appreciate the affirmation, Gary. Good point about the value of being on the fringe—that’s a point most voting Mennonites seems to have forgotten.

      • Gary

        Another point for me is that I have a vote to cast FOR someone rather than AGAINST someone. If Democrats can’t elect their candidate, don’t blame me as a Green Party supporter. I will blame liberals for not voting for Jill Stein and supporting a more just and peaceful policy platform.

      • Right, Gary! See my follow-up post due out tomorrow morning.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the related info, Ted. I sadly concur re. Hillary Clinton being all-too-war-inclined. And you’re right that Obama has been more conflict-avoiding than any president in my memory (which, similar to yours), goes basically back to Kennedy, though I wasn’t yet much politically aware when his presidency ended at his death… at the time I was 14. But it may prove of little consequence unless we can build on what he’s begun. (Possible exception: Carter, but I wasn’t following his presidency real closely and know he’d been a military man.)

    I like your point that voting every 4 years for President is only a tiny portion of our “civic responsibility”. But I also don’t feel, at least presently, that attempts to build up smaller alternative parties or support independent candidates at the higher levels is likely to help much, other than perhaps in raising consciousness and knowledge (which IS important, too). So in little ways, and maybe increasingly, I’m promoting another program that is already well along and still evolving, showing real promise. I forget if I mentioned it on this blog earlier. If so, I feel it bears another “shout out”. It is described in some detail at http://www.vop.org, called “Voice of the People”. Part of the dynamic is “Citizen Cabinets” which is a tried and already-validated process which seems workable and potentially powerful. It works within the current 2-party system (a major advantage) to bring good informed and local public opinion straight to legislators, along with (potentially) serious pressure for them to follow solid, knowledgeable guidance from their constituents, NOT from a minority relative to primary or general election voting or special interest pressures.

    Might it not be that within localized and researching bodies like these (already trial run in a few places) that pacifist, compassionate positions can be openly explored and education about them conducted? At this moment, with the little I know of all this, it seems to hold more promise, and be likely to move much faster than do other approaches, such as working through alternative parties. The latter tends to perpetuate the power struggle nature of politics more than does the Citizen Cabinets approach…. as I say, so it seems to me so far…. I’m open to being shown otherwise, btw.

  5. Don Blosser

    Sorry Ted… I agree with about half of your reasoning, but I have concern over the posting that you did. If I lived in Virginia, I might decide to vote as you have. But I live in Indiana and my vote here has much more significance. Clinton was not my first choice — and I would add that my primary allegiance is to a very different kingdom that operates with a very different set of moral values.
    I share with you the BIG concern about militarism as the new way of problem solving in American life—and I wish that things would be different on that issue, but I shudder to think of Trump as the Commander in Chief (or leader in almost any other arena)—his approach makes Clinton almost sound like a mediating pacifist.
    I just hope that your post does not persuade others living in swing states to withdraw their vote from the Clinton cause…that could be disastrous. This makes life to be a moral, ethical issue where there are no pure options, only shades of right/wrong, war/peace. It is not how I wish it would be, but it is the reality we have to live with, and there is a side of me that detests these limited options.
    My decision swings more on Clinton’s positive concern for the poor, her economic concerns regarding health care, and her Methodist Religious background. I just ask persons to consider the alternate implications if they choose to vote Independent, or Green party while living in a different state. I might actually prefer their positions, but I recognize the reality of vote totals needed here in Indiana.
    Summary — I am fully and completely with you on the implications for what we do after the election, regardless of who wins.
    I am working on a sermon for the 13th…taken from Luke 21 (text was assigned to me) titled: “What do we do now”…summary = we go right on being righteous, compassionate people bearing witness to the kingdom of God (God’s New Way) in our midst.
    Peace brother….

    • Thanks for the reflections, Don. I don’t know how I could have been more clear about the undesirability of a Trump presidency. As I said, I would vote for Clinton if I were in true swing state (maybe at this point defined by whether the candidates are actively campaigning there during these last days of the campaign)—or if we didn’t have the electoral college and could vote directly for president (if the polls were showing that the overall vote would be close—which does seem to be the case right now).

      My issue, thus, is not Clinton vs. Trump, but the problems with Clinton. And the sense that a tiny, almost infinitesimal witness for an alternative to our current political crisis (i.e., a vote for the Greens) is better than wasting a vote on Clinton in a state that she is almost sure to win or lose (again, basing this at this point on whether the state is currently being contested or not).

      If I were in Indiana, given that Huffington Post’s current prediction is that there is a 100% chance that Trump will win it, I would think for me to vote for Clinton would be a wasted vote and would be irresponsible. I wouldn’t think that if I felt more positive about Clinton—then I would think that I would want to support what she stands for even if she was sure to lose my state.

      To me, a vote for Clinton is most of all a vote for warism, neo-liberalism, big banks, and corporate power. I might be willing to cast such a vote if I was in a context where that vote would help prevent Trump winning—because, of course, he’s even worse. But I would cast it while be very explicit about opposing what Clinton stands for. I wouldn’t try to convince myself that she actually stands for what I believe in.

      I totally agree with your final paragraph.

  6. Connie Shelley

    In Colorado it feels imperative to me to vote for Clinton. The ballot had about 25 people to vote for, one from the Pacifist party. I was so tempted…..but went with the status quo. As for Obama, I think he has been a President of dignity, ethics and good moral character that has been largely misunderstood because he is also a deep thinker and, well, many people prefer bumper sticker slogans. Has everything he’s done been to my liking? No. Has he done everything I wish he had done? No…partly because he has been hamstrung. I believe that real change will come from the grassroots; from people being in relationship with others; from people speaking out against racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., etc. Tell Uncle Charley that God wants us to welcome the immigrant and give justice to the poor and it’s not O.K. to strip people of the Imago Dei. And, by all means, bring people together and never divide.

    • Thanks for the thoughts, Connie. If I were in Colorado, I’d be slightly more likely to vote for Clinton than here in Virginia, given that apparently Trump hasn’t given up there and will be making one last visit. But that the Huffington Post right now says that there’s a 99.8% chance that Clinton will win Colorado, I would probably stay with Jill Stein, as per my argument in my post.

      There are many good things about Obama, for sure. One of his worst legacies is that the opposition to militarism that helped him get elected in 2008 has now almost totally disappeared—even as our actual militarism has increased. I think he has actively contributed to that loss, and it is quite apparent in how Clinton hasn’t even had to act like she opposes militarism.

  7. Yeah, Donald Trump is an imperialist too, like Hillary Clinton but with less finesse. So we don’t want him.

    When we consider the two of them side-by-side, the supporters of each and how we feel about what we see, a strong class dynamic rises to the surface. Julian Assange, interviewed by journalist John Pilger at RT, gets at this: “Donald Trump – what does he represent in the American mind and in the European mind? He represents American ‘white trash,’ deplorable and irredeemable. Basically, the same thing. It means, from a… establishment or educated, cosmopolitan, urbane perspective, these people are, you know, like the rednecks, and you can’t… like, they are just… you can never deal with them. And because he so clearly – through his words and actions and the type of people that turns up at his rallies – represents the people who are not the upper-middle-class-educated, there is a fear of seeming to be associated in any way with that, a social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of somehow assisting in any way Trump, including criticizing Clinton. And if you look at how the middle class gains its economic and social power, it makes absolute sense.”

    So we have two imperialist candidates representing the two imperial parties, one anathema because he signals a lack of nuance and social class, the other tolerable because she signals finesse and upward mobility?

    Nah, they’re both intolerable.

    • I think you nail it here, Berry. Part of why even Mennonite pacifist progressives are so comfortable with Clinton’s warism is that she seems like us—sounding compassionate (“despite her affiliation with war”), calm, reasonable….

      In some ways she’s more scary than Trump. Her commitment to violence is more nuanced and hidden, and hence easier to overlook. Plus, since she’s almost certain to be elected her danger is more real than the hypothetical dangers of a Trump presidency.

  8. I somehow can’t get off my mind some things relative to my comment above, particularly as it pertains to Mennonites and others with pacifist convictions. (I’m one who is “almost fully there” myself, and fairly familiar with Mennonite thinking and traditions, having been on its fringes via my mother and her side of my family, along with some personal study, mediation training, and people I’ve known beyond family.)

    My “stuck in my mind” wondering pertains to your broader point about citizen involvement in our governance beyond just voting. I am serious in hoping you, Ted, and some of your readers can and will help me evaluate the potential of the plan developed and promoted by Voice of the People. And, if it seems fitting with pacifist priorities (as I think so far it does), we might together promote it further and/or get directly involved in one or more of its processes.

    With that lead-in, what my mind wants input from peace-oriented people on is whether you see close harmony with your principles and processes in the VOP “Citizen Cabinet” model (already being operated in 8 states); and potentially strong value in it as an adjunct to some of your efforts. I think you may, and I’ll say why, as briefly as possible. In doing so, I should give a link to the perhaps most pertinent section from their website, to abbreviate your process if you have only a few minutes to devote to this. This is it: http://vop.org/the-solution/ .

    The why is that it seems the four points from the middle of that page are very akin to parts of what peace-making is all about. (My own early career as a relational counselor dealt with this a lot, so it’s more than just theory for me.) Since they’re brief I’ll paste them in here, tho I’m hoping people will read them in their larger setting on the site, while looking at the model. The context is what Americans believe gov’t would be more likely to do under the Citizen Cabinet model, in operation:

    “Show common sense;
    Move beyond polarization and gridlock;
    Find common ground and resolve political conflicts; and
    Serve the common good, rather than special interests”

    So, if this is indeed the effect, wouldn’t it be because of implementing a set of processes that are well-proven and workable, being used in various settings by many Mennonites, relational counselors, conflict mediators, etc., etc.? And could it not indeed be applied to our political situation, in such dire need of greater functionality (and peace)? Or am I overlooking something?

    I guess another way of posing what I’m struggling to articulate clearly would be this: Do the processes laid out in the VOP model seem to track closely with what Mennonites and other peacemaker-oriented groups are already doing in a variety of ways? And what might these experienced practitioners be able to offer the VOP endeavor, as it grows and further develops, that would strengthen it further and perhaps also help the pacifist cause?

    BTW, I may post the latter part of this comment, with some modification, on my own blog in seeking the input of my readers there as well.

    • Thanks for this, Howard. The work of VOP seems quite interesting and worth supporting. It is certainly compatible with what Mennonites are now calling “peacebuilding” (Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University).

      One question I have of VOP (and Mennonite peacebuilding) is whether a value such as “move beyond polarization” might in practice trump (pun noticed but not intended) the quest for justice/genuine shalom. I don’t think truth necessarily exists simply in between two conflicting parties, but has it’s own, we could say, independent standing. I’m not sure the peacebuilding approach recognizes this enough.

      So, for example, how would VOP deal with corporate domination that so often seeks to control outcomes in a way that subverts the actual common good?

      • I’m going to look more closely at EMU’s Peacebuilding via your link, and maybe the movement more widely. I did briefly a while back, but am not much “in the loop” at this point. I’ll add that I have begun to speak in my United Church of Christ church (and may eventually to the denomination) about needing to pay more attention to what the “peace churches” are doing…. So that will push me to do so also. I think the progressive side (the larger one) of the UCC, at least here in the West, is probably pretty compatible in overall theology with the progressives among Mennonites (unlike most of my mothers’ extended family who were conservative). I have yet to learn just HOW insightful and determined my UCC colleagues are re. what you ID as to “corporate domination” or the “domination system” more broadly.

        And as to VOP, it’s a good question. At my still-minimal understanding, I THINK I can project that, when fully up and going in most if not all states, with a national Citizen Cabinet working as well, that corporate domination could and would be tackled, and perhaps effectively. It certainly would seem to have a better shot at success, and more “honest brokers” than the current way of operating in our elective and governing system.

      • This makes sense, Howard.

  9. Steve Cessna

    While I agree with some of your thinking here, and that of some of your sympathetic commenters, I can’t get on board with this. I think it’s unwise.
    Three things:
    1. Sure, VA is more blue than it has been in a generation. But polls this year are weirdly volatile. In fact, Trump is ahead in a VA presidential poll out this week (but behind in several others, thank God!) If we agree that a Clinton presidency is desirable over a Trump presidency, by far, then I don’t think we have as much wiggle room in VA to vote third party as you imagine.
    2. Trump and what he stands for are so far away from the values you put forward on this blog, and mine, and really those values of most of the global population, that I feel it is our duty to global citizenry to guarantee an overwhelming loss for Trump and all that he stands for, even in those states that are already blue. A Clinton win by a wider margin than we’ve seen since Reagan would signal to the international community that the alt-right racist/sexist jerks are not who we are, or who we support – this is ultimately a peace issue. It is my view that fully voting against Trump and what he stands for requires voting for the opposing candidate with the best chance of winning – Clinton. To me, voting third party this time around is just half a vote against Trump, but half a vote for him.
    3. I started out in the Bernie camp, and made the move, slowly at first, but now fully and full-throatedly to Clinton. Your critiques of Clinton are reasonable, (mostly: I honestly don’t see any basis for criticism of the Clinton foundation.) But after the debates, now I really like her. I really think she’s amazing, smart and yet understated, and her policy differences with Stein and Sanders are almost entirely questions of the liberal pragmatism vs. liberal idealism, (over which a lot of ink has already been spilled). I think that Hillary Clinton is a human being, flaws and all, like the rest of us, but who will get some serious progressive crap done in Washington. But, more in line with what you write on this blog: When I check my educated, upper-middle class, male white privilege prior to entering the voting booth, who is it that most of ‘the least of these’ voting for? On Tuesday, I’ll be very proud to vote for Hillary Clinton, together with overwhelming majorities of African Americans, Latinos and other minorities, and most of the women.

    • Steve, I like what you’re saying. I see you are a prof at EMU. I’m not generally a reader in your field, tho I love the natural sciences. If you post much (besides family doings, etc.) on a FB account, I’d enjoy seeing. If I find you there, I’ll send a friend request.

      As an earlier comment of mine implied, I’m coming to include more emphasis on reforming militarism as part of “the message of the Kingdom (or Realm)” of God. So much revolves around our (and others’) warring behavior and the pertinent international relations.

    • Thanks for the comments, Steve. I just wrote a long response to each of your points but carelessly lost it! I take that as a sign that I’m spending too much energy on this discussion!

      I’ll just say now that I agree that the question of how certain it is that Clinton will win Virginia is a valid issue for debate. My main bases for confidence are the stability of Clinton’s lead in the polls for months that makes a last second change unlikely, the assessment by the Huffington Post of a 99.8% chance of Clinton winning, and most of all that apparently neither Clinton nor Trump will visit the state in these last frantic days before the election and neither is spending money here now (indicating that both campaigns think it’s a done deal).

      And that of course I am totally against Trump; I just think that blind support for Clinton is unwarranted giving her record. And she herself, with her implicit separating of Trump from the Republican Party (in an attempt to gain more Republican votes) has made it more likely that no matter decisive Trump is defeated, the message will not be a repudiation of anything but Trump as an individual.

      And that Clinton’s long record going back to her days on Walmart’s board of directors in Arkansas gives scant hope that she will “get some serious progressive crap done in Washington.” I hope I’m wrong about this, and if I am I will make a public statement of repentance and cite you personally as someone who was right while I was wrong!

      And, finally, it seems like one of biggest ways we are “privileged” is by living within the walls of the great Empire that is wreaking havoc in so many places around the world. We are shielded from the consequences of the militarism that Clinton has supported and enacted.

  10. Ted, with as close as the race is—-narrowing in VA—-I have to disagree. With as roller/ unpredictable as this season has been, it feels like nothing should be assumed or left to chance. I hope I’m wrong, but this kind of thinking could tip the election.

    • Could be. Remember, though, that it is in the economic interests of both the corporate media and the Clinton campaign that we think it’s still a toss-up. And such an impression also helps the Clinton campaign’s approach to keep us so scared of Trump that we remain uncritical of Clinton.

  11. Okay Steve, I just learned that Trump will be visiting Virginia after all. So I will have to keep discerning….

  12. So my thought with voting as a pacifist is that since I am unwilling to govern by coercive force (which is how all of our laws are enforced, even simple things like taxes are collected under threat of a club/gun), I also will not choose anyone else to do so in my stead. Thus I don’t vote, and won’t until we have a government that embraces non-violence.

  13. Ted, it’s important your readers at least try to entertain the thought that a Clinton Administration would be a greater threat to humanity than a Trump Administration.

    How could that possibly be? Because Clinton dresses up bloody U.S. interventionism in the pretty clothes of humanitarianism and democracy. She stands in the neo-con tradition that used intellectual liberalism to make respectable the slaughter of Central Americans in the ‘80s and the slaughter of Middle Easterners in ‘00s.

    A Trump Administration would be as willing and eager as a Clinton Administration to pillage and burn, but it would lack the facility to legitimize it all morally. It is Clinton’s ability and demonstrated willingness to clothe brutality as moral courage that makes her more to be feared than Trump.

    • I agree Berry. I think the uncritical support for Clinton among many Mennonite “liberals” in my acquaintance bears your point out. It’s remarkable to me how such people seem always to change the subject when Clinton’s warism comes up, not defending or even denying that warism but always wanting to talk about Trump. One key reason they can do this in their minds, I suspect, is precisely what you say: ” Because Clinton dresses up bloody U.S. interventionism in the pretty clothes of humanitarianism and democracy,” because of “Clinton’s ability and demonstrated willingness to clothe brutality as moral courage.”

      Maybe we need, as you seem to imply in a lot of your writing, simply accept as the nature of our reality that we can’t actually right now have a peaceable influence on the larger political scene as “insiders.” So, our main task is thinking about ways of resistance, not illusions of governing.

    • Barry, I get your point and it’s possible Clinton is the greater overall threat. But taking it broader than our view from within the country, to internationally — the judgment by leaders and populace alike is strongly the other way… greater threat from Trump. (I can’t claim a lot of authority from this but I DID spend 2 weeks in Oct. in England, Germany, Switzerland and saw this borne out personally.) In Europe, Trump DOES get strong support from some of the more extreme nationalists and those reacting against the refugee influx, etc. But they themselves seem to be fomenters of division (in the name of purity or self-protection, etc.) and of likely violence.

      I guess my point is that there are several angles from which we should look in this analysis. And at least from some, such as the popular self-preservation psychology of majority races and parties, Trump’s ascension has already led toward a LOT of potential outward violence, as it has fueled “inner violence” in attitudes and preparedness for actual violence, coercion, etc… and mostly toward hurting, largely defenseless people! I believe this movement toward various levels of violence would greatly increase upon his possible election, and would be mitigated strongly upon Clinton’s. Even if her foreign policies might be more warring, it’s clear her own life practice and domestic record in politics, and the modeling she presents, is WAAAY more compassionate and peaceable than is Trump’s. That counts, too!

  14. Howard, I’m inclined emotionally to agree with both your points. But . . .

    Recently I’ve been reading more at the website of The American Conservative, which is resolutely opposed to the neo-con ideology and is anti-interventionist. Writers who are pro-Trump there (not all are) claim Trump initially won the loyalty of his supporters with outrageous rhetoric, but more recently has been moving his supporters toward more moderate positions (e.g., immigration, refugees, etc.) I note this not as a pitch for supporting Trump, but as a plausible basis for checking our progressive tendency to stigmatize Trump.

    • Well, I suppose even Trump can be quoted out of context, tho he generally provides very little context. And it’s hard to exaggerate his wording. He does it on his own. Plus, with his pre-campaign career filled with bullying, lawsuits and threats, bankruptcies, sexism, a campaign finance citation, etc., I think it’s pretty hard to stigmatize Trump.

      To the extent this that you say is true: “Trump initially won the loyalty of his supporters with outrageous rhetoric, but more recently has been moving his supporters toward more moderate positions”, isn’t that a classic “bait and switch”? Not unusual for politicians but if he were to get away with this, it would be pretty well qualifying him for Rubio’s label: “con man”. (Which I already believed was anyway, based on substantial track record.)

  15. Kurt Goering

    Dear Ted:

    I have been reading your blog for several years, and have always been impressed with your thoughtfulness and well-reasoned analysis. In fact, I referred to your 2013 blog series on Revelation in Sunday School this morning (using the Adult Bible Study uniform series). I have always appreciated the civility with which you and your Repliers conduct your discussions. You also are my go-to scholar for supporting my view of LGBTQ inclusion Biblically.

    If we have a civic responsibility to participate in national elections, as you suggest, and with which I agree, not voting is not an acceptable option, and that usually equates to a vote for one or the other of the two major party candidates. Similarly, voting for a third party candidate equates to a vote for one or the other of the two major party candidates.

    As some of your readers have suggested, we will need a much stronger, broader effort at the grass-roots level before we can achieve the kind of national political change that you cite as the reason to vote for Dr. Stein. Until that time, I believe there will never be a candidate who aligns with all of my positions and views on the issues. So I am forced to determine which candidate with a chance to become President has the policy positions most closely aligned with mine, and then vote for that candidate. Mr. Trump is categorically unfit temperamentally (in my opinion) to be President, his true beliefs and policy positions are unknown, he appeals to our basest instincts, and he is a lousy speaker when trying to stay on message using a teleprompter. I have long admired Hillary Clinton and view her as a stronger, better person than her husband. Is she perfect? are her views and policies totally in alignment with mine? No. But I am proud to vote for her.

  16. Pingback: A pragmatic case for voting Green | Thinking Pacifism

  17. Vincent Martin

    Have you any regrets with not voting for Clinton in how close the vote actually was and that Trump did indeed win….

    • I don’t regret voting for Jill Stein for the reasons stated in my post. Clinton won Virginia as I expected.

      I am deeply distressed that Trump won the election and that Clinton ran such a terrible campaign.

  18. Pingback: The empire “breaks bad”—Christian faith in the Trump era, part one: What happened? | Thinking Pacifism

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