Decision 2016, What’s a Progressive to Do?

I’ve got three half-written blog drafts in my box, because I keep thinking “I’m going to write something that’s not political.”  Alas, those entries will have to wait, because I need to get political, and I’ve promised myself and others I would keep it off of Facebook.

I’ve long considered myself an independent.  Over the years, I’ve pulled levers, poked chads, and colored in circles for candidates of both major parties.  I voted for Jennifer Granholm twice and I voted for Rick Snyder twice.  I voted for George H. W. Bush twice and Barack Obama twice.  I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a third party, although I think we need a viable one badly in order to get the bloated and stagnant two party system to wake up to what Americans really want and need in their government.  I think a lot of people thought that’s what Donald Trump was going to bring to the table, breaking all of the “establishment” rules and bringing new life to the political process.  Well, he’s certainly breaking rules, but I’m not sure I can call what is happening within the Trump campaign “new life” for the political process.

Look back in my blog library from about a year ago, when I wrote “Ted Cruz Does Not Represent Me.”  I wrote about Senator Cruz at the time because I thought he stood a very real chance of being nominated, and I wanted to be sure everyone knew that I, as a Christian, was not buying into the latest Republican pandering for the Evangelical vote.  It never even OCCURRED to me to denounce Trump’s candidacy because I never dreamed ANYONE would buy into what he was peddling.  I apparently gave America too much credit, or at least I gave the Republican Party too much credit.

So I find myself here in early August watching (probably way too much) coverage of the campaigns.  I watched nearly all of both conventions.  I read every different slant I can find of commentary on the people and the process.  I listen to and watch international coverage of our election process to see what other citizens of the world think about what we are doing.  I seriously want to make an informed choice in November.  But instead of finding clarity as the weeks go by, I find myself more and more disillusioned both by “politics as usual” (The DNC e-mail scandal, policy flip-flops if it gains a vote or two in a key “battleground state”) and by “politics as NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN THIS COUNTRY. EVER.  AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY” (I don’t think I need to do a laundry list of the bizarre behavior witnessed over the past year to justify that label).

I look at the alternatives to the two major party candidates, and I don’t think the Libertarians are altogether bad (although right now I can’t remember their names – so that tells you something).  In general, I think a good percentage of thinking Americans could get behind a platform of limited government and social progressivism.  I think, however, it’s too little, too late for this election cycle.  The Green Party?  I have to admit to not knowing a great deal about their platform as a whole, but the bits I’m hearing and reading don’t lead me to believe Jill Stein is the answer to a broken system (Julian Assange is a hero).

So, realistically, unless something REALLY crazy happens in the next 98 days (and I’m not ruling it out this year), we are left with Donald J Trump and Hillary Clinton as our realistic options to be the next President of the United States.

It really is a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils.  

From the moment I saw that Donald Trump had generated some interest within the Republican primaries, I said “There is no way Republicans will ever nominate him.”  As it became clear that he had a very good chance of winning the party’s nomination, I said “There is no way this country will ever elect him.”  I think and hope I am still right.  He doesn’t need a liberal media or a “rigged” voting process to cause him to lose in November.  If he continues to talk for the next three months the way he has talked over the last 3 weeks (and we have no reason to think he can be anything other than the bombastic egotist everyone – including his own party’s “supporters” – see him to be), he will end up doing himself in.  After all, he can’t blame the liberal media for his own demented Twitter feed.

No, I cannot and will not vote for Donald Trump.  As my brother eloquently enumerated it in his blog, “Decision 2016:  What’s a Conservative to Do?”:

  1. I do not perceive him to be a moral man.
  2. He does not share any deeply held ideologies that are important to me.
  3. He has no filter when he speaks
  4. He gives every indication that he is sexist and racist
  5. I don’t think he has a clue about how government actually works

I see no need to rewrite what is already well-written.  Please see his blog if any of those 5 points need clarifying in your mind.  Somehow, I doubt you need to see the supporting evidence.

This brings me to at least a brief commentary on my blog title.  Many friends and family members may be surprised that I no longer see myself as a Conservative.  I removed that label when “conservative” meant as a Christian I was a de facto gun-toting, small-government, tax hating, pro-life Republican.  As a Christian, I don’t define myself by my politics, but as a Christian (and the way I understand our role in the world) I find myself caring for the poor, actively including the outcasts and disenfranchised in my life and in my church, and doing everything I can, every day, to share love with my neighbor, whomever that may be on any given day.  And more and more, those actions work themselves out politically in Progressivism and the Democratic party.

However…

Hillary Clinton.

I am just having the worst time getting excited about her as our next commander in chief.  Yes, Donald Trump is a train wreck, but Hillary Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate and a longtime standard-bearer of a deeply flawed Democratic Party.  Polls show she is only slightly more likable than Donald Trump, which isn’t saying very much.  And if hints from the WikiLeaks people hold water, there is more embarrassment to come for her between now and November.  For those reasons and others, I have not yet put an “I’m With Her” poster in my front yard (my parents will be pleased – I think they’ve just now recovered from my Obama yard sign).  I will, however (unless something cataclysmic happens), be pulling the lever, poking the chad, or filling in the circle for Hillary Clinton on November 8, especially if it means keeping Donald Trump out of the Oval Office.  Usually voting is a pretty private thing for me, but this year I think it is just too important to the future of our country to risk putting someone I truly think is a dangerous person into the most powerful seat on the planet.

Yes, I realize I wrote a whole lot more about why I can’t vote for Donald Trump than I wrote for why I can vote for Hillary Clinton.  That’s because (as I said earlier) this year, it truly is a choice between the lesser of two evils, but I’m pretty sure less evil is better than more, which makes the choice pretty easy for me.

12 Comments

  1. Well written blog post, Ben. I consider myself more “progressive” these days than anything else, and if I lived somewhere else I may be wrestling with my choice differently. Here in California, I expect Hillary to win the state handily. I cannot vote for Trump, even though I feel very strongly that Clinton must be stopped. I don’t agree on every issue with Johnson/Weld (Libertarian), but I believe first steps toward shaking up/breaking down the political dysfunction will include a surprisingly strong showing by someone offering something better. As a friend wrote in response to the “wasted vote” criticism, “Where is it written that Donald Trump should finish second?” The Libertarian ticket represents me more closely than anyone in more than 2 decades, so they will have my vote. If Trump wins California by a handful of votes, that will be on me, at least in part.

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    1. As I mentioned in the blog, I like the Libertarians. I just think it’s too late for this election. If I felt like I could safely vote for them and not help Trump, I would be tempted to do it. With Michigan as a battlefield state, however, I feel that stopping Trump is more important than making a third party statement, and that means voting for Hillary. I agree, you have more options in CA, because Trump doesn’t have a prayer there (literally and figuratively).

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    1. I feel like not voting is an abdication of my civic duty. Jesus does not call us OUT of the world. He calls us FOR the world. If I thought a non-vote or a third party vote would not harm the country with a President Trump, I might be convinced to respond that way.

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      1. Civic duty to pay taxes and obey authorities, sure, but it is a different thing to affirmatively support someone. We are in the world to preach the Gospel and called for His Kingdom, not the Republican or Democratic parties. Lesser evil is still evil and frankly with the two involved can you truthfully say which is TThe lesser?

        We as Christians should never do anything out of fear.

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      2. Hey Ben – my thoughts are still the same, perhaps more so. As a Christian and pastor I can honestly stay out of what are muddy divisive issues that has nothing to do with the Gospel and focus on preaching Jesus to both sides of the political aisle.

        Frankly, I think most of it is theater as well designed to distract people.

        How about you?

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      3. I am still DEEPLY disturbed by Christians who voted for Trump and continue to defend him, especially those who still say he’s “God’s man for the job”. It’s an abdication of the core gospel message.

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    2. Jesus never made mention of voting because first century Palestine lived under the rule of a violently oppressive foreign invader. The concept of voting in a democratic republic would have been a foreign concept to them.

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      1. Very true but there is nothing in the Bible that would support a duty to vote and much that would argue that we are responsible for the work of those we support if we so choose.

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