The following is in response to Jeffrey St. Clair’s criticisms of our Eight Point Brief for Lesser Evil Voting.
1) St. Clair accuses us of “paternalistic guilt-tripping that seeks to blame people who choose to vote for Jill Stein” and other third party candidates. In our text we specifically endorse the principle of voting for Stein in safe states. Since the great majority, possibly even all of the states are likely to be safe in the 2016 election, St. Clair is simply inventing the evidence for the charge he levels.
2) Conversely, St. Clair construes our position as “an endorsement of Clinton”. Given that we specifically recommend a vote against her in what will likely be almost all states, it is very hard to see how the word endorsement reasonably applies.
3) Contrary to St. Clair’s claim, the right wing drift of the two parties is not a consequence of lesser evil voting. Indeed, the Democrats easily adapt to the victory of a right wing Republican like Trump resulting from a failure to implement lesser evil voting. His subsequent predations on the most vulnerable segments of the population are then easily exploited by Democratic operatives who will blame the left for a far right victory. The charge will, as we note, be based on fact and will set the stage for another triangulatory corporate Democrat to prevail. Should Trump win, this logic is certain to play out in 2020 just as the ultra reactionary policies of the Bush administration set the stage for Obama in 2008. The scorched earth non-strategy of St. Clair is, in fact, a guarantee of the continuing triumph of neoliberalism while at the same time a recipe for possibly irreparable harm in the form of Trump.
4) While we oppose losing national third party efforts when they help elect the more dangerous candidate, St. Clair fails to note that we specifically endorse potentially winning local races. Unfortunately, contrary to St. Clair’s glowing description, the Greens, for whom I served as a two term Alderman from New Haven, have been undermined by their focus on national races. While once promising, Greens in office are now reduced to minuscule numbers. Furthermore, in their 35 years of existence they have, with one or two brief exceptions, failed to achieve any state level office.
In contrast to the Greens, a viable path to national influence was shown by Sanders, whose candidacy was, incidentally, vehemently opposed by St. Clair at every turn. Starting as a small city mayor, he consolidated power step by step, eventually leading to a competitive run for the highest national office. Rather than fixating on the quadrennial national electoral extravaganzas which do little to build the foundations of power, St. Clair should be devoting his attention to potential winning third party local races, including those of Greens as well as Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant and the Vermont Progressive Party (virtually never mentioned on St. Clair’s website Counterpunch).
5) St. Clair characterizes a Trump presidency as “extremely unlikely” misconstruing the analytics guru Nate Silver who in fact puts Trump’s chances not at 1%, as St. Clair claims he does, but at 22%. Furthermore, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll the candidates are deadlocked. Given the notorious Bradley effect, this may well imply that Trump, were the election held today, would be a clear winner. And given that the Republican smear machine has yet to kick into full gear, there is still less reason to accept St. Clair’s rosy scenario of a certain Trump defeat.
That said, if it turns out that Trump’s poll numbers collapse, a vote for Stein is fully endorsed by us in every state, hence, none of St. Clair’s fulminations apply.
6) Those who will be certain victims of Trumpism including inner city populations of African Americans and Muslims, will find little amusement in St. Clair’s jocose description of “the fearsome Trump and his rampaging band of post-industrial Visigoths.” Nor will Mexicans who Trump has described as “criminals and rapists”. Nor will the hundreds of millions of people in Bangladesh who will be forced to flee their homes as Trump’s climate denialism undermines efforts to deal with the worst crisis in human history – or the 300 million Indians already facing death from a huge drought, and many others around the world.
Trump poses a clear and present danger to the most vulnerable members of society, a fact well known to the 89% of Hispanic Americans and 94% of African Americans who have expressed disapproval of his candidacy. Trumpism is not a laughing matter; to trivialize it is a troubling indication that white skin privilege remains an issue in certain benighted quarters of the radical left.
Those engaging in it will be reasonably perceived as marginal and justifiably shunned.