As a Democrat, I’ve been reluctant to support either Clinton or Sanders: I’ve admired both of them but find them deeply flawed. They represent divergent views of political change and reflect my own conflicting beliefs about the political process. That said, I’m prepared to support either as the nominee, because they’re both committed to improving the lives of Americans through building a more equitable, inclusive, and just country.
It’s unnerving to see diehard Sanders supporters saying they would never vote for Clinton. Doing so would not only threaten the nation (and the world) with a bigoted, misogynistic, and proudly ignorant conman, but it would completely destroy the revolution they claim to care so much about.
My fellow liberals, no matter how much you hate Clinton, she still has to listen to you. When she needs to build support for a bill on paid maternity leave or an executive action on immigration, she will look to you. Your support will be yours to give or withhold. Her agenda won’t fully satisfy you. Nor should it. But it will be shaped, in large part, by your conception of the world. Clinton will attempt to address poverty, health care costs and disparities, climate change, and women’s equality because she is a Democrat, and these are the things Democratic voters care about. Any Democrat elected to the White House would face intense pressure from their base to solve these problems. Even if you think Clinton is a deceptive cretin or a corporate puppet, no politician makes it this far by ignoring their party.
Voting for Clinton means you get to be heard. Interest groups advocating for reproductive rights, consumer protection, and the poor will have more influence in a Clinton administration. Even if Clinton doesn’t give full-throated support for a $15 minimum wage or universal health care on Day One, you can successfully pressure her, like any Democratic president. For example, last month, President Obama announced his support for expanding Social Security benefits, after years of supporting cuts as part of a “Grand Bargain.” It took years of progressives fighting for Obama’s support on the issue, and after seven years, they got it.
Further, Clinton will nominate Supreme Court justices who won’t relish the chance to gut campaign finance restrictions, government health care programs, affirmative action, voting rights protections, and clean air laws. The Supreme Court vacancy presents an unprecedented opportunity for liberalism after 45 years of a conservative majority. Throwing it away would be unconscionable.
Trump, on the other hand, will never listen to you. The jury’s out on whether Trump listens to anyone but himself, but you can rest assured he will ignore your pleas for a more equitable, inclusive, and just society. Under a Trump presidency, conspiracy theories and penis envy will have more influence over domestic and foreign policy than years of scientific research and expert opinion. You may take to social media and bemoan Trump’s latest misdeed; you may even feel validated when your friends agree. But it will change nothing.
Make no mistake, a Clinton presidency will likely face a Republican, or at best, split Congress, so you will have to fight tooth and nail for every progressive policy. Her presidency will operate under the same constraints as Obama’s, so you will be disappointed, frustrated, even enraged at times. But you will have real power and real achievements. We didn’t get the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, nationwide same sex marriage, two more female and liberal Supreme Court justices, increased investment in clean energy and infrastructure, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the Iran Deal, and the Paris Climate Agreement by voting third party. Until our voting system changes, doing so will always be an act of political masturbation: it may give you pleasure, but when it’s over, you’ll have nothing to show for it.
As a liberal, voting for someone other than Hillary Clinton in this election would be like burning down your house because your toilet is broken. Please don’t burn down the house.