Elections matter … even if it’s not what you want

by joe courter

Okay, so two major party conventions down, and here we are. As I’ve said before, thank you Bernie Sanders for having the gumption to run, and for being a catalyst for what could be a resurgence in progressive organizing. Yes, the Democratic party establishment had designed the system to work in Hillary’s favor, and they had their way with securing the nomination. But the Bernie people fought hard to be heard, and Bernie himself had some great, though subtle, moments. At the moment when he took the floor during roll call, he demanded the votes be recorded, and then said that Clinton had been “selected” as the nominee. Nice choice of words. And then when Clinton paid tribute to the Sanders campaign in her speech, he chose not to smile when the cameras were on him. Conscious and tactical, perhaps, but showing a resolve he knows, and we know, we will need to have if a movement is going to develop out of his campaign.

As I write this in early September, there are two full months before election day on Nov. 8. Will there be surprises to come? Entirely possible. Trump seems unable to control his mouth when he is off teleprompter, and his record seems to indicate he is much more interested in making deals than fulfilling deals made. His unsuitability to hold the job of President is becoming clearer and clearer. His supporters, his true believers, will remain with us, however, as they have always been in one form or other, but ginned up to dangerous levels by a celebrity con man. It is an unfortunately real outgrowth of the fear-mongering rhetoric the Republican party (and their allies on talk radio and Fox News) has espoused for decades.

And Hillary Clinton? It is a positively maddening situation because there is SO much criticism of her from so many angles that it is almost impossible to deal with it all. Her email habits and foundation workings capture most of the criticism, yet for me these are minor compared to her coziness to Wall Street and her militarized foreign policy. The reality of the next President naming the next wave of Supreme Court justices looms large for many of us, and this is where the hope in an invigorated left opposition rising from the Bernie movement comes in; that once she is elected, we can reign in her bad tendencies. This is the stuff the Union Movement used to do, but I am afraid now that to get justice, it is going to be “just us” doing it; joining organizations, being informed and active citizens, running candidates and getting them elected so that maybe we can reclaim the House and Senate, and as well, State governments, so that when the 2020 census is done we can undo the gerrymandered districts that lead to what we have in Florida and elsewhere in the nation; predominantly democratic populations being ruled by entrenched republican legislatures thanks to the way district lines have been drawn.

I am not a political purist, I think strategically when it comes to voting. And the top of the ticket is not the only place we will face challenges to our individual sense of ethics and memory of what people who are now candidates have done in their past. When Ed Emery was forced by health reasons to drop out of his race against Ted Yoho, local developer Ken McGurn stepped in. Ken’s development tactics and some rather blunt comments about the homeless in downtown will haunt him. Likewise Rod Smith has some less than stellar actions in his past which some will revisit. Are each better than the Republican they are running against? Quite likely, yes. Will it stop some from voting for them? I expect so.

I’m with Chomsky on the lesser of two evils thing. My principles aren’t that high, but I believe the stakes in this case are.

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