Perspectives on the American Election

Perspectives on the American Election

The CNP is not endorsing any candidate in the 2016 US Presidential election.  We believe that the United States federal system is deeply broken and the only solution for California is independence and the ability to elect our own national leadership that reflects Californian values.  Until that day comes, however, the winner of the US presidential race will have profound impacts on California and our members – like Californians as a whole – have a wide diversity of opinions on how they should vote in November.  Here are a few of their perspectives.

Mrs. No-Trump – Bruce Irving on why he’s voting for Hillary Clinton

Tired of Endless Wars and Crony Capitalism? – Theo Slater and Aaron Reveles on the Greens and Libertarians

None of the Above – Jed Wheeler on why he’s going to check Other and write in “None”

Mrs. No-Trump

By Bruce Irving

In 2000, the Democratic Party nominated an uncharismatic candidate, Vice President Al Gore.  Gore was the establishment candidate, promising to continue Bill Clinton’s centrist policies in a boring campaign. The GOP ran George Bush Jr., best known at the time for his alcoholism, connections to Big Oil, abbreviated stint in the National Guard, inarticulateness and propensity to fry felons in the Texas electric chair.  Bush promised to shrink the government, stop foreign military interventions, promote religion and business and avoid ‘nation-building.’

It was Gore’s election to lose – a competent VP working under a successful and extremely popular 2-term centrist President who had built up a budget surplus, reduced federal spending and survived an impeachment challenge. Few took Bush seriously.

Progressives were naturally drawn to an elderly, crusty old firebrand, Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent. The two parties were “just the same, it won’t make any difference for whom you vote.”

Bush won, Gore lost.  Nader’s share of the vote was miniscule, but the slight edge of votes that he shaved off of Gore in New Hampshire and Florida tipped the election towards Bush.

Bush’s first year in office was lackluster but reactionary. He cut funding for organizations that provide abortion counseling, defunded embryonic stem cell research, funneled taxpayer dollars to faith organizations and lost a spy-plane to China.  He ignored an important briefing paper Al Qaeda determined to Strike US the month before the 9/11 attack – the crisis that strengthened his Presidency and allowed him to pursue a reactionary agenda.

And of what did that extreme agenda consist?  An invasion of Afghanistan, now the longest war in US history.  A multi-trillion dollar adventure in Iraq with massive loss of life and a destabilized region, leading to ISIS. Massive tax cuts that have swollen budgets, ballooned the deficit and increased inequality.  Financial deregulation leading to the mini depression of 2008 and an extravagant bailout of financial institutions. Hundreds of billions in subsidies to Big Ag and Big Oil.  The erosion of civil liberties through the Patriot Act and NSA spying.  Ridiculous spending on boondoggle weapons programs.

What does this all have to do with Mrs. Clinton?  Again we have young progressives saying ‘it doesn’t matter who gets elected, both parties are the same.’   For most people, it really doesn’t matter who you vote for as the election comes down to the few people who bother to vote in a few ‘swing’ states.  But in those key states if principled people with no memory of Nader 2000 defect to Jill Stein and if independent voters don’t swing her way, we will repeat election 2000.

If we are lucky, Trump would be a one-term President, with Congress deadlocked while he treats the Oval Office as a reality show where he rages, blusters and fires people and promotes his ‘brand.’  But if there is another event like 9/11?  With an angry nation united in grief behind an angry demagogue, he will push through the most odious of his plans in the aftermath.

I am not fond of her, but boring, uncharismatic Clinton, with her years of experience in the Administration would pursue rational, centrist responses to a crisis. We need to unite behind her and to prevent a Trump Presidency that could exceed in awfulness the Bush Reign of Error.

Tired of Endless Wars and Crony Capitalism?  Vote third party!

By Theo Slater and Aaron Reveles

While Dr. Jill Stein and Governor Gary Johnson provide vastly different political perspectives, they agree on several points.  Both wish to end the wars the US has been fighting since 2001 that grow larger every year.  Both also wish to dismantle the current system of crony capitalism where big business and big government share a revolving door, and both have stated they want to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and provide a pathway to citizenship.

Gov. Johnson has the advantage of greater experience, particularly in the executive branch.  He was the Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003.  His politics are much more conservative than ours and we oppose some of the slash and burn cost cutting Libertarians can be known for; but at least he was very out front on the push to legalize cannabis and began his advocacy while still a sitting governor back in the 90’s.

Dr. Stein is a champion of civil rights and a leading voice for the need for a full mobilization of our society in order to attempt to slow climate change and give humanity a window to adapt to the hotter and less habitable world we have created.  Only Dr. Stein is adequately advocating regarding this existential issue for humanity.  She also intends to end the endless US wars and advocates for a more peaceful approach to US policy generally.

As Californians, our most important issue is breaking the duopoly of total political control that the Democrats and Republicans hold.  We favor either Dr. Stein or Gov. Johnson over either of the “major party candidates” because both the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate are utterly terrible.  Clinton favors more war and continued corporate control and Trump seems to be running as a white nationalist strong-man  who will no doubt also continue corporate control of every facet of economic life in the United States.

For too long both parties have used fear to extort votes.  We need more parties and both the Libertarians and Greens are potential contenders, if not this cycle than in the future.  The “major party candidates” this cycle are a great example of the peril of only having two choices on who should lead the most powerful and destructive empire in the world.

A Trump election would result in massive social upheaval and legitimize his racist white nationalist supporters agenda of hate and ignorance, while his presidency would put Mike Pence in the driver’s seat on domestic policy.  That means massive repression against communities of color and particularly LGBTQIA folks.  By contrast a Clinton presidency might best be described as “intersectional imperialism” – she would pay lip service to key Democratic voter blocks while continuing to wage class warfare in the form of free trade deals like the TPP and  condemning the Middle-East to even more war and death.

This election is like being given the choice to be shot or poisoned, and for that reason we will vote for another voice.  That voice will have a hard time winning this cycle, but the only way to help third party voices be louder in the future is to support them now.   As for which of them to support, we will likely choose in the ballot booth, and which third party can be a louder and more effective voice for change the fastest will certainly be part of the decision.

Whether Trump or Clinton are ultimately successful in winning the Presidency or whether Dr. Stein or Gov. Johnson accomplish a staggering upset and wins, the losers have only themselves to blame.   It’s up to the candidates to earn people’s votes and no party is entitled to our unquestioning support.   We don’t believe in either American party and we certainly don’t believe in Mr. Trump or Sec. Clinton.  We need more choices and more voices.  That said, it will require shifting to proportional representation to allow third parties to actually win, and we encourage the Greens and Libertarians both to join us in adding support for this critical reform to their platforms.

Whoever you decide to vote for, remember that the most important votes you cast are the down-ballot races – the local elections that have far more impact on our day to day lives. If you live in California going to your roof and shouting the name of your favored candidate is about as effective as voting for President. Thanks to the Electoral College and the fact that this is a deep deep blue state, the winner here, absent a staggering upset, will be Clinton.  However, it is extremely important to vote for the California state and local races.  That is where your vote counts.  That is where your voice matters.  Local and state races affect your daily life much more than who sits in an office thousands and thousands of miles away.   The CNP is working very hard to recruit local candidates from across California for the 2020 races and so that is where we are going to put our energy – into building a party that can fight for real solutions for California and build power in our local communities.  We hope you’ll join us in that effort. Ultimately change happens with you and it starts local.  We (all of us) have to build it ourselves.

None of the Above

By Jed Wheeler

Bernie Sanders was the first presidential candidate I’ve ever donated to or knocked on doors for and I am proud to say that the CNP platform takes the best of his ideas and expands on them.  Unfortunately, he’s out of the race.

So am I Bernie or Bust?  No.  My refusal to vote for a kleptocrat who ran the State Department as the acquisitions arm of her bogus “charity” in order to enrich herself has nothing to do with Sanders.

Clinton’s foreign policy record is atrocious.  She not only voted for the Iraq war, she lobbied for it and called it a business opportunity.  She deported orphaned Honduran children to a country where they would be executed by a dictatorship that she helped put into power.  She was also the biggest advocate for overthrowing Libya’s government. Declassified emails show her explicitly saying she advocated that war to gain access to Libya’s gold and oil. Libya is now a major ISIS stronghold and the millions of refugees fleeing their homes can thank Clinton.  Republican strategist Steve Schmidt recently said during an interview on MSNBC that “the candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign policy perspective is in fact Hillary Clinton, not the Republican nominee.”

The last Clinton administration pushed through NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China which together destroyed millions of good-paying working class jobs – the rust belt is rusting because of the Clinton’s.  Further, Bill’s bank deregulation directly led to the housing market collapse that forced millions of Americans out of their homes and wiped out 53% of black America’s wealth.  Hillary’s longstanding support for the TPP (and the fact that she picked a man who voted to fast-track the TPP as her VP after pretending to oppose it due to pressure from Sanders) indicate her administration will be more of the same.

She described opposing gay marriage as a “fundamental bedrock principle… a foundational institution of humanity.”   Even now after switching her public position to fit popular trends she continues to take tens of millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton foundation from countries where being gay carries the death penalty.   She has repeatedly changed positions on major issues after receiving campaign contributions. Don’t take my word for it, ask Elizabeth Warren.  As Obama said, “she’ll say anything and change nothing.”

During the primary she sent spies to infiltrate the Sanders campaign and paid online trolls to make the internet a worse place.  She spent months talking up how much money she was raising for the party, but spent more than 99% of the money on herself. Her allies in the DNC used every dirty trick to tilt the race in her favor.  When they were exposed and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign, Hillary hired her onto her campaign the same day.  She’s so brazenly corrupt she doesn’t even attempt to hide it.

So no, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. Not that my vote matters! California is reliably blue and if the Democrats had nominated a bag of avocados it would get California’s electoral college votes.  Which is of course why they don’t even pretend to care about our issues. Clinton couldn’t even be bothered to keep her promise to debate here!

So what’s the alternative? Trump isn’t even worth considering, he’s a pathological liar, a cheat who makes a regular habit of stiffing the people he does business with, and is such a phenomenally bad business man that he would be wealthier if he had just stuck his inheritance in a market-indexed fund and spent his life golfing with his buddy Bill Clinton.  That’s before you even talk about the fact that he’s built his campaign on white nationalism(1 2 3) and borrows rhetoric from Mussolini.  The man is truly scary.   Fortunately he’s made it clear he doesn’t intend to actually do the job of president and will leave governing to his VP.   Not that Pence is much better!

The fact that one of these two will be America’s next president is proof of how dysfunctional American politics have become and why California should secede.

Unfortunately, no third party can win a US presidential election because the US uses first past the post voting instead of proportional representation (the system used by most other democracies), so the majority either don’t vote or hold their noses and vote for a “lesser evil”.  Even if a third party for president could win, neither Stein nor Johnson moves the needle for me – Stein talks the talk and I have great respect for her as a dedicated activist for social justice, but her only elected experience is two terms on a city council.  She is very valuable to the larger progressive movement as an activist but bluntly lacks any experience that would qualify her for the presidency.  As a former governor Johnson has experience and his advocacy for civil liberties and against war makes him clearly a lesser evil than Trump or Clinton; but his economic platform is every bit as bad as Clinton at her worst.  I can’t vote for either of them in good conscience.

I will vote on all the local elections where third parties can actually compete and on the ballot initiatives, but as a Californian who cares about the issues there is no candidate for US president I can support.

If you are ready to stop wasting your votes on people who only see California as a cash cow to be squeezed dry and want to help us push for real solutions here I hope you’ll join us.  Change doesn’t begin in the white house, it begins in our local communities, and that’s where the CNP is growing.