I have a number of friends on the left whose judgement I trust. The bulk are voting for Hillary but not an insubstantial number are voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. This piece is not against those two candidates. It is a case for Hillary.
As a Bernie Sanders supporter I am asked how I could support Hillary. Her campaign is awash in corporate donations, most of the fortune 500 is behind her. She is at heart an interventionist and was supportive of the coup on Honduras and the debacle in Libya. She has a way of coming late to issues like marriage equality and most of the compromises of the 90s, the worst being welfare reform, she backed.
Those issues are not going away. And I hope my friends on the left continue to raise them, in particular if Hillary wins. Because these issues including those raised by the Sander’s campaign are too important to let go of. Especially campaign finance reform. The popular backing of progressive ideas are there. Overcoming the amount of money spent in politics at the state and federal level to stop them is not.
Given the objections, why vote for Hillary?
A. She has adopted much of Bernie’s platform. Tuition free college, reforming our criminal justice system, opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership, resurrecting the public option, overturning Citizens United Bernie’s run meant the issues talked about moved the national discussion to the left. And even in the national election, those issues remain.
The Democratic platform was one of the most progressive platforms ever written in over a generation:
$15-an-hour minimum wage, Stronger language on criminal justice: The platform also calls on the Department of Justice “to investigate all questionable or suspicious police-involved shooting.” Marijuana legalization: The platform also called for a “reasoned pathway to future legalization” of marijuana.
Federal reserve reform: The new platform says the party will fight against allowing bank executives to sit on Federal Reserve boards.Closing the revolving door: The party will also move to “ban golden parachutes for those taking government jobs” and seek to bar bank regulators from taking any action related to their former employers. Wall Street reform: The party also seeks to crack down on Wall Street by severing banks’ ability to choose the credit agency that rates their products.
B. The coalition Hillary Clinton represents. 90% of African Americans support her. 66% of Latino voters support her. 72% of LGBT voters support her. Jewish voters support her 3 to 1 over Trump. 67% of religious nones support her. My guess is that Hillary will gain at least 70% of Muslim support. Those making under 30k a year support her 2 to 1. Hillary has a twenty point lead among women.Then look at her endorsements from the AFL-CIO to Planned Parenthood to the Sierra Club to the Human Rights Campaign.
To quote Molly Ivins “You got to dance with them what brung you,”. It helps to notice the coalition of voters behind Hillary. If you are claiming progressive values but ignore the choice of non white voters, if you ignore where progressive groups are going, if you ignore the unions, the poor, women, young people, Muslims and Latinos who are being targeted by Trump, can you call that progressive?
This coalition is the one Hillary is responding to. That’s why she came out against TPP. That’s why she speaks about ending private prisons. It’s why she has the most expansive program to help working women, expand LGBT rights, and expand health care access. Whether you consider her an idealist or a craven politician, she is responding to her coalition. And that coalition is the most likely to bring about progressive change.
C. Appointments matter. The Supreme Court. Imagine Hillary appointing someone to change the balance 5-4. Now imagine the health of everyone from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Clarence Thomas. Whoever is president will radically remake the court. Imagine rulings where corporations are not people, where voting rights are protected, where the right to reproductive health care is a given, where union rights are protected. where campaign finance reform is possible.
One of my arguments for Hillary is that she creates a space for the left to organize. Even if you disagree with her on this or that issue, a court system that recognizes LGBT rights, that recognizes unions, that won’t overturn health care reform, that upholds voting rights, is a much better place to be organizing in. We’re only beginning to see the effects of Obama appointments Add Hillary appointments and the courts could become an ally on almost every issue progressives care about.
And while the Supreme Court is the most obvious place folks look, consider other appointments. Obama’s picks for the FCC ruled for net neutrality. Obama’s nominees for the National Labor Relations Board expanded union rights for grad students. Executive decisions and legal interpretations by the Obama administration has enacted non discrimination policies for LGBT folks. Overtime pay to corporate practices to the Consumer Protection Agency have reigned in corporate excess.
None of this is based on who wins congress. I want the Democrats to win of course. But some have argued that Hillary couldn’t enact a progressive agenda anyways because of congress. But the role of appointments, executive orders, and agency decisions impact every area of life such that it matters who is in the White House.
Notice I made no reference to Donald Trump in this piece. The fact that Hillary is the only candidate that can stop Trump should give progressive pause. But I think a case could be made for progressives and those on the left that Hillary provides openings on the issues we care about and openings to organize that could not exist, even if some other GOP candidate had won the nod.Remember who got second place? Ted Cruz.
Notice I did not delve into foreign policy. I can’t imagine she would be non interventionist. But she would honor the Iran nuclear agreement. She does believe in multilateral organizations from the UN to NATO. She does believe in arms control. In other words she believes in the checks and balances which mitigate against force. Given the other party, those differences matter.
Dwight Welch is the pastor at the United Church of Norman, Oklahoma. His opinion on this election is his own and does not reflect his church or denomination.