This has been an interesting political season especially with the rise of Donald Trump. We now have a matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. What has been disconcerting is the way that some of my friends create a false equivalency between the two candidates. They say both candidates would be equally terrible for the nation. Certain people have asserted that Clinton would be worse than Trump. Others have exclaimed that a Trump presidency would not be as bad as people say or for others a Trump presidency would be so apocalyptic that it would prompt a progressive revolution. I do not understand such sentiments at all.
I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008. I thought she had the experience and competence to be President especially following the incompetence of George W Bush who will probably go down as the worst or one of the worst Presidents of all-time. During the primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, there was not too many substantive policy differences between the two candidates. The differences came in style. I admit that I consider myself more of a realist than an idealist over time. I was much more of an idealist when I was in college. In the 2000 Democratic primary, I supported and campaigned for insurgent candidate Bill Bradley over Vice President Al Gore. In Bradley, I saw possibilities of what could be with a progressive platform. Bradley came to the University of Washington and held a rally on Red Square trying to inspire young people to vote. However, when it came time to vote, Gore demolished Bradley winning every single primary and caucus that calendar year including trouncing him in the Washington state primary. After Bradley bowed out of the campaign and endorsed Gore, I quickly supported and campaigned for Al Gore. However, I had people around me who wanted to have a protest vote and voted for Ralph Nader. Fast forward to election night and Florida flips from Al Gore to George W Bush and it is discovered that through a terrible ballot design, many voters in Palm Beach County, Florida who had intended to vote for Al Gore ended up accidentally voting for Pat Buchanan. Through the shenanigans of the Supreme Court, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, the election was stolen and given to George W Bush. He was certified the winner of Florida by 537 votes. If a few hundred Nader protest voters had voted for Gore, we would have had a different result. What did we get? We got the worst President of my lifetime and the most vulnerable among us suffered the greatest!
Idealism has its place. However, we have a huge threat in Donald Trump who promises to be an even worse and scary president than George W Bush. His vitriolic rhetoric has given permission to racists to speak up and express their hateful language. The people who will suffer the most under a Trump presidency will be people of color. Some white progressives say its better to either vote for Trump or to vote for a third party as a way to protest. They claim that a Trump presidency wouldn’t be as bad as some people are making it out to be and that a Clinton presidency would somehow be worse. Of course, this is undeniably untrue. However, the privilege that some of these white progressives like Susan Sarandon who would be shielded from a Trump presidency through her wealth and whiteness have no sense of the fear and anxiety that people of color like myself feel about a Trump presidency. I will not be a martyr to some magical hope of a political revolution by white progressives that materializes from the terror of a Trump presidency.
My last point is that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama do not differ much on policy. Many people praise President Obama for what he’s done but then denigrate Hillary Clinton when their policy positions are virtually the same. President Obama’s health care plan is basically what Hillary Clinton advocated in 2008 with the individual mandate which at the time, Barack Obama objected to. I wonder if one reason that Hillary Clinton gets such criticism and vitriol has to do with sexism. I’m not saying everyone who disagrees with Hillary Clinton is sexist. However, the attacks both from some Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters definitely attack her in a way that a man wouldn’t. The use of sexist slurs like b**** and c*** have no place in political discourse. So if Hillary Clinton is extremely qualified and has similar policy positions as Barack Obama, then why is he affirmed and why is she maligned by the same people? Could sexism be the reason? I think it has something to do with it though I would never claim that it’s the main or only reason. Moreover, she voted with Bernie Sanders 93% of the time in the US Senate and yet you would think listening to some of the Bernie Bros that she is some kind of extreme right wing conservative which of course is ridiculous. Also, it’s unfortunate that Bernie Sanders has not mentioned the historic nature of the first female candidate to be the Presidential nominee for a major political party in US history. No matter what you think about her, this is a major historic moment in our nation’s history.
When supporting a presidential candidate, I am not looking for a messiah who will miraculously solve our nation’s problems overnight. Unlike some of my friends who support Bernie Sanders, I can acknowledge Hillary Clinton’s fault. She is definitely far from perfect. I don’t agree with every policy position that she has. However, she is someone that I truly believe is qualified and competent to do this job. I’m not looking for her to magically solve our nation’s problems by herself. Real change in our current system comes from down ballot candidates including the Congress, governors, and state legislatures. President Obama has shown that an obstinate Congress can halt the governing process. So if you want real change, tearing down Hillary Clinton is not really going to do anything but to ensure a Donald Trump presidency. Yes please keep Hillary Clinton accountable. However, do not think for a second if you are rational that Hillary Clinton is just as terrible or even worse than Donald Trump. Let’s not believe in this false equivalency propagated by Trump and Sanders supporters.