20 May, 2017

Dealing in Democracy—The Consequences of Not Voting

[Dealing in Democracy grasps at, wrestles with, questions, critiques, and explores mere tinges of the brittle and broken bones of American politics through my admittedly biased eyes and offers me an outlet through which to fumigate the horrors both presently presenting and ever-present.]

-=: I originally wrote this right after the election, but got caught up with school or writing something else and so left it unpublished. Cornell West, on Bill Maher the other night, tried to argue that voting for Clinton was almost as bad as voting for Trump, and so reminded me of this argument I kept pressing on people torn over their votes. Since the cult of the individual still reigns mighty in the USA, it is still very relevant, and so here it is.:=-

Many people considered this election as a choice between two evils, or at least two distasteful individuals. As I've written before, I used to dislike Hillary Clinton until I investigated my reasons for disliking her and discovered that the few reasons I actually had were based on zero facts, and when I searched for facts I found myself respecting her much more. But all of this is beside the point.

We treat presidential elections as popularity contests between individuals instead of establishment of the policies those individuals represent. Briefly, here are the policies each candidate represented:

Hillary Clinton, et al.

  • Maintenance or expansion of the Affordable Care Act, possibly extending health coverage to the more than 33 million Americans who still have zero access to any health insurance; the costs of emergency care and crisis management for the uninsured is astronomical.
  • The social safety net (unemployment insurance, food stamps, medical care for children, education for the disabled, social security, medicaid, medicare, homeless shelters, and all the other programs that try to ensure that every citizen can at least survive in this country).
  • The supreme court should have filled its vacant seat under Obama, as it is his constitutional right to do so, but Republicans have set a very dangerous precedent by first denying Obama's overly-reasonable nomination a hearing, and now by establishing simple-majority voting for confirmations—this will, eventually, bite them in the ass, but they got their stolen seat because people didn't consider the next 20-40 years of American history when they voted. At stake in the Supreme Court are some of the following issues:
    —Citizens United (unlimited dark money buying more of our politicians)
    —Voting Rights
    —Workers' Rights
    —"Religious Freedom" as a cover for legal discrimination
  • Fair minimum wages
  • The right for cities to make their own laws
  • Education
  • Lower/zero college tuition
  • War
  • Building the future instead of some imaginary past
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Banking reform
  • Equal rights act—equal pay for women
  • Fair(er) taxation

Donald Trump, et al.
  • Repeal of Obamacare, which means:
    —Over 20 million Americans may lose coverage immediately
    —Reversal of Medicaid expansion
    —Preexisting conditions no longer covered or priced out of affordability
    —Insurance companies first, patients last
    —Increasingly higher premiums
    —Humans treated like cars or other merchandise 
    —No more mental health and birth control coverage required
    —Loss of basic services in many insurance packages
  • NO TO SOCIAL SERVICES: Gutting the safety net, food stamps, unemployment insurance, ETC
  • CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL: No clean energy investments or research, trying to purge the EPA, appointing climate change deniers in every office relevant to the climate and energy, going to expand coal, oil drilling, and fracking
  • NO FREE PRESS: Believes the press should be sued for writing "negative" stories, which is anything Trump disagrees with
  • WAR: Wants to expand the military and has signaled a potential war with Iran, intentionally provoking China, now North Korea
  • ANTI-CONSTITUTION (freedom of speech, of press, of religion, unlawful search & seizure)
  • He IS those "elites" he keeps screaming about.
  • Will do his damndest to pass massive tax cuts on the wealthiest among us
  • Believes in the debunked voodoo of "trickle down" economics, or says he does
  • Will do absolutely anything to save face, to stay in power, to be the "tough guy." Anything.
Whoever you voted for in this election, you did not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as much as you voted for the policies associated with them. If you did not vote, by default you voted for Trump's policies. 

So the next time there is a fucking election, look at the policies. Look at the consequences of those policies based on which hold sway. Because of this vote, or many non-votes, there is a chance that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. There is the chance for another war in the Middle East, and Iran is no scattered backwater like Afghanistan or divided dictatorship like Iraq—Iran would be worse, and America would lose any remaining global support for tearing up a deal for peace that America itself created which would be seen as nothing less than provocation for war. It means even greater fiscal and social inequality among our citizens. It means the rejection of science on a whole. It means the enthusiasm for more countries armed with nuclear weapons. It means everyone in this country, from a union boss to the CIA itself, has to fear personal reprisal from a president who takes any and all criticism as a personal attack, and his only response to perceived attack is to destroy. It means dissenting view is not only dismissed, but forcefully put down.

That's what this election was about. Whoever you voted for, I hope you voted for the policies that come along with them. If you don't think about politics in this way, you should. You must. This is the reality, no matter how many attendees Trump envisions in his head or how many times his court of sycophants keep admiring his new clothes.

I think that's the point Bill Maher was trying to make: yes, Clinton may be a corporate shill, but she wouldn't have repealed the ACA or spilled state secrets to the Russians in the Oval Office or hired a National Security Advisor on the payroll of a foreign power or gutted the EPA and the State Department or have all references to climate changed purged from government websites. She wouldn't have hired her daughter and her son in-law or launched systemic attacks on poor and immigrant communities. She would have nominated a forward-looking voice to the Supreme Court who might have given us a chance to fight against the numerous and monstrous iniquities that plague this country.

I know it's almost impossible to argue facts anymore—people are scared and pissed off and it just doesn't get anywhere. So look at the ACTUAL POLICIES they want to enact and then imagine how those things will AFFECT YOUR LIFE. I know Trump wouldn't reveal any actual policy during the campaign—BECAUSE HE HAD NONE. A man who says he knows how to do everything and shows you nothing is selling snake oil, and he pulled off the biggest con in American history. 

So ignore the man, the woman, the person, and figure out what their power means. Then decide if that's power you can afford. We have less future to bargain with than we know.

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