I’m sure this endorsement comes as no surprise to most of my regular readers, but in fact it’s not as unproblematic as you might think. I live and vote in New York. As we all know, the president is actually elected not by popular votes but by votes in the electoral college. In New York as in most states, electors are awarded on a winner take all basis to the popular vote winner in the state. Hillary is absolutely unquestionably going to win New York, so she doesn’t need my vote. It would be entirely different if I lived in a swing state like Florida or Pennsylvania or Ohio. But as a New Yorker I could consider voting for one of the third party candidates—say, Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Jill Stein–without increasing the chances that Donald Trump could go to the White House.

I’m not in any way tempted by Johnson, even though he takes some laudable, typically libertarian positions on foreign policy and civil liberties.   As an economic philosophy, libertarianism is morally repugnant: it amounts effectively to a celebration of inequality, greed and selfishness. It’s also a-historic and utopian (or, rather, dystopian): there has never been an advanced society run on a libertarian basis, and there never will be. Libertarians rail against “big government,” but capitalism just doesn’t work without an active state.

Jill Stein’s Green Party is another matter. I haven’t paid too much attention to Stein’s campaign, but she seems to advocate some good positions on foreign policy and civil liberties while pushing a broadly social democratic domestic agenda that I can applaud. Some of her ideas are impractical, and I certainly don’t agree with her on everything, but I don’t agree with Clinton on everything either. Stein, like Bernie Sanders, represents the general direction in which I would like to see Clinton to move. So, why not give Clinton a harmless push by voting for Stein?

There are two good reasons for lefties like me not to vote for Stein. First, Donald Trump represents a uniquely ugly development in American politics. I think it critically important that he be defeated as decisively as possible. That means a decisive margin of defeat in the popular vote as well as in the electoral college, because even though the popular vote is technically irrelevant, it has psychological importance.   Most people correctly think first of the popular vote as the best indicator of the candidates’ support in the country.   Even in defeat, if Trump comes close to Clinton in the popular vote Trump will be able to claim a moral victory (not to mention a “rigged” election).   Trumpism will live to fight other battles. It may in any case, but we need to minimize that possibility.   Trump will be seen as decisively defeated only if a large popular vote margin separates him from Clinton. It’s as simple as that.

I have another reason not to vote for Stein, which is that the 3rd party politics that she promotes has no future. A vote for Stein is a strictly symbolic protest vote that leads nowhere. The fact is that the great bulk of the progressive forces in the United States—organized labor, minorities, environmentalists, women’s groups, consumer and human rights advocates, etc.–are more or less aligned with the Democratic Party, and they aren’t going anywhere. Bernie Sanders this year showed that there is a huge (I do mean yooge) potential for the Democrats to move to the left. The Nation magazine has just endorsed Clinton, and predictably at least one enraged on-line commenter decried the “fantasy” that the Democratic Party, tied as it is to corporate interests, can ever be a vehicle for real progressive change. Actually, the fantasy is that progressive change can occur without the Democratic Party. I would hope that President Hillary Clinton will prove to be a transitional figure in the politics of her party and of the nation. Jill Stein will never be anything more than a well-intentioned relic.



  1. Jeanne Barnett October 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    “I would hope that President Hillary Clinton will prove to be a transitional figure in the politics of her party and of the nation.” – Puhlees!! 8 years ago the “Hope and Change” message inspired a lot of people, myself included, and I was able to blind myself to the actuality of escalated war, regime change with no plan other than to oust the leader, loss of civil liberties via several executive orders expanding the patriot act, greater racial strife within our borders, no economic recovery for the middle class, but PLENTY for the corps and banks, I could go on and on. The Obama admin. has established a trajectory that will lead us straight into WW3 and HRC makes no attempt at covering up her innate glee at the very thought of it. Wake up. The time to stop this runaway train is NOW. IF not now then WHEN? IF not us, then WHO? Jill Stein COULD win if pundits like yourself would stop shrugging their shoulders and resigning us all to the inevitable – If nothing else, a strong enough statement will be made this cycle to truly bring hope and change four years from now. I have no doubt that HRC will continue to do what the Clintons, and all the Dems over the past decades, have done – say anything to get elected and then do nothing but kiss the corporate ass of the world.

    • tonygreco October 7, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      I have said a number of times that Clinton’s hawkishness worries me, and I believe we need to be prepared to oppose her if she follows her worst instincts once she’s in the White House. But the prospect of Trump in the White House is downright scary.

    • Jeffrey Herrmann October 8, 2016 at 9:37 am

      “Jill Stein COULD win if pundits like yourself would stop shrugging their shoulders and resigning us all to the inevitable ….”
      If Froggy had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass ahoppin’.

      Tony — did you know how influential you, and your like, are ? What a burden to bear on those shrugging shoulders of yours!

      And Jill Stein SHOULD win because why ?

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