Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Pragmatic Case for a Jill Stein Protest Vote

Assuming he finds the time, Curmie is going to write a series of three pieces about Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Presidency of the United States. Today is the easy one, to ease Curmie back into writing: why voting third-party is absolutely legitimate (for some of us). The other two aren’t harder, but they’ll take a longer and more sophisticated argument: why Clinton’s very real ethical failings make her unsupportable (except to stop a narcissistic imbecile like Donald Trump); and why the previous election results we ought to be afraid of aren’t from 2000, but from 1968. But… on to the business at hand.

Jill Stein of the Green Party
Curmie just read another article, this one by a smug little fart named Sean Colarossi, proclaiming that a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Donald Trump. Curmie is only going to say this once, so pay attention: HORSESHIT.

First off, in pure mathematical terms, the argument just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Donald Trump. A vote for Jill Stein is not. If Curmie votes for Trump (come have him committed if he ever suggests that as a reasonable course of action), then Trump gets one more vote than Clinton. If Curmie votes for Stein, then Trump and Clinton remain tied. If you want to say it’s “half a vote for Trump,” go for it. It isn’t as catchy, but at least it’s honest. Then again, honesty has never been a strong suit for anyone or anything associated with the Clintons.

Secondly, it is wildly presumptive (another specialty of the Clintons) to suggest that the default position of any voter, including a registered Democrat, should be blind support of any Democratic nominee. Curmie was registered as an independent for over thirty years, and still thinks of himself in those terms; although he hasn’t voted for a Republican he didn’t know personally in over a decade, that’s because the Republican candidates have been so uniformly awful, not out of any abiding love for the Democrats. Has Hillary Clinton done anything to earn my vote? Well, I agree with her most of the time—or, at least I think I do: she’s changed positions on so many issues so often (the TPP, the minimum wage, gay marriage… need I go on?) that were I of a cynical disposition (perish the thought!) I might suggest that Candidate Obama was pretty accurate in declaring in 2008 that she’ll say anything to get elected. But really the principal reason that Curmie became a Democrat (other than the obvious fact that the Texas GOP is the strongest argument imaginable for joining an opposition party) was to vote for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the ’08 primary and caucus.

Certainly HRC herself has made no attempt to sway Bernie Sanders supporters such as myself to her side. Indeed, quite the contrary. Naming the despicable Debbie Wasserman Schultz as honorary campaign manager after leaked e-mails prove that Schultz had violated all ethical standards to attempt to subvert the Sanders campaign translates as follows to the Sanders faithful: “Yes. My minion, while pretending to be an honest broker, was in fact actively conspiring against your candidate. She had to resign her position with the DNC once what everyone who was paying attention already knew to be true was confirmed by hard evidence. So I hired her into a top position in my campaign. Fuck you. And vote for me.” You know what? No.

But the real reason a vote for Jill Stein is absolutely legitimate for me to do is that I live in Texas. The Clintonphiliac scolds apparently don’t realize that not only do we not live in a de facto democracy, we don’t even live in one on paper. Popular vote doesn’t elect the POTUS—ask President Gore. So my vote for someone other than a major party candidate means literally nothing in terms of electing or not electing Tribblehead. Literally. Nothing.

Mitt Romney, who was a terrible candidate, won Texas in 2012 by close to 16 points, or over one and a quarter million votes. Local Dems got excited recently that Clinton trailed in one poll last month by only 8 points. That’s still pretty much a blowout, and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site currently has Trump leading Texas by 11, with a 93% chance of winning the state. (Interestingly, right now—4:00 pm CDT on July 30—Silver’s “Polls only” projection suggests that Clinton will win the popular vote but that Trump has a 50.1% chance of winning the election; his other two projections—“Polls Plus” and “NowCast,” both predict a Clinton victory, the latter by a very narrow margin.)

More to the point, states tend to trend at the same time, responding to the latest news. In other words, if Texas Republicans start abandoning the nominee, or if Texas independents flock to Clinton, so will those in Iowa, Florida, Virginia, and other places where there’s actually a contest. If Texas is even close—let’s say within 3 points—then lots of other states will have already fallen in line behind Clinton. That is, for Texas to be close, it would have to move 8 points in Clinton’s direction. If we move all other states even half that far in Clinton’s direction, then in the NowCast projection she she’d win all the states she currently leads in (CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HA, IL, MA, MD, ME (3 of 4 EVs), MI, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VA, VT, WA, WI—a total 268 of the 270 she’d need to win), plus all these others in which she trails by 4 points or less: FL, GA, IA, NC, NV, OH (another 90 electoral votes). And that’s just if the rest of the country moves only half as far toward Clinton as Texas would have to do just to be competitive. Throw in AZ, MO, NH, SC, and the one remaining ME district if you want to count places that are closer to a Clinton victory than TX is to Clinton competitiveness. So, if the entire country shifted in Clinton’s direction enough to make Texas even close, she’d already have close to 400 electoral votes without Texas.

The bottom line: if Clinton wins Texas, she won’t need it; if she needs Texas, she won’t win it. So any vote for anyone other than Trump will have the same effect to keeping him out of the Oval Office: zero.

Don’t get me wrong. If I still lived in New Hampshire or Iowa, I’d be all about preventing the Bellowing Yam from even sniffing the Presidency. Even if I still lived in New York, which Clinton ought to win by double digits pretty easily, I’d vote for her just in case the campaign got a little too complacent. But because of the idiotic, archaic, vestigial, Electoral College system, my Presidential vote makes no difference whatsoever. That leaves me free to express a little… yes, protest. I will vote, but not for the embodiment of political cronyism, privilege, and corruption that is Hillary Clinton. It is a small protest, to be sure, but as I am neither wealthy not well-connected, it’s all I have.

Is Jill Stein an ideal candidate? No. There are plenty of issues on which I disagree with her. But she’s smart, she’s a grown-up, and she appears to be fundamentally honest. She won’t win (duh!), but there’s at least an outside chance that she could attract enough votes to have the 2020 Green candidate get federal funds and a spot on the debate stage. This, too, is a long shot, but it’s still far more likely that Hillary Clinton needing Texas and getting it.

And don’t you dare blame Curmie and those like him if Clinton’s candidacy implodes. My choice is not ill-informed or irresponsible, nor is it founded on “self-righteousness.”  If we end up with the Xenophobic Twatwaffle as POTUS, we can place the blame squarely on the shoulders of, in increasing order of culpability: the media, Democratic voters who nominated a candidate with a double-digit net unfavorable rating, the corrupt and incompetent DNC, and… wait for it… Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Gentle Reader, if you live in a swing state, I implore you to vote for Hillary Clinton to save us from the scariest major party candidate ever. If you live in a red state, I’d urge you to consider not taking anything for granted. But if, like Curmie, you live in a state that Clinton has no chance of taking if the election is close, then you be you. Vote for Clinton, vote for Stein, write in Sanders, whatever you choose. Just don’t stay home (down-ballot candidates need your support), and please don’t vote for the Screaming Combover.


Rebecca deCoca said...

My problem is I live in Ohio and I don't see how I can vote for Clinton. I've been waiting for a candidate like Bernie for 45 years. The collusion between the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the media took that chance away. It makes me too angry. I would never vote for Trump, and I'd rather Clinton win, but I'm not convinced it would be the Apocalypse if he won, if the Dems had the balls to be as obstructionist as the Repugs have been, and to me, voting for Clinton would be saying I'm okay with a warmongering candidate and lying and cheating politics-as-usual. I just don't see how I can do it. This campaign has been the last straw.

Erin said...


Zinn Reader said...

Voting for the greater good, not the lesser of two evils! (So saieth Dr. Jill Stein)