Even if I didn’t live in the swingiest of states no way was I ever going to vote for Jill Stein. Presidents start wars, and if they don’t ask for congressional approval their national security councils and defense departments pay contractors (‘sup, Iraq!) or create paramilitary insurgencies (hi, Nicaragua!) to fight them. As a president during these circumstances Stein would be no different than Hillary Rodham Clinton if not worse: where Clinton has given the impression that she’ll refute generals Stein looks like she’d succumb to dangerous counsel; she hasn’t sounded the depths of what she doesn’t know. Clinton was a non-entity as secretary of state and at least in North Africa was foolish and precipitate; thousands of lives have been extinguished in Libya and Egypt for the sake of a hunch. But her decisions are her own. Meanwhile Stein’s speeches give the impression that subtlety offends her.
But foreign policy goals and farragos didn’t influence my vote two weeks ago. The time for a fully progressive candidate ended in March 2016. Bernie Sanders lost. He lost despite the machinations of a Democratic Party beholden to Clinton. He lost because he didn’t have the votes to become the nominee. Thanks to Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, #BlackLivesMatter, Occupy, and millions of men and women whose names I’ll never know, Hillary is not the same Clinton who ran in 1992 and, saints above us, 1996.
Should Hillary Clinton win and the Congress remain in the talon grip of the GOP, we will see a reprise of Barack Obama’s last four years: government by executive order, paid vacations for a legislative branch that would rather pay its share of taxes than return to their districts with a record of endorsing a Clinton initiative. Liberals worrying about what she and plutocrats chortled about in paid speeches needn’t; even if she endorsed legislation calling for the exhumation of Ronald Wilson Reagan for the purpose of a cadaver synod the Republicans wouldn’t budge.
But should Hillary Clinton win, the Environmental Protection Agency is safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will have competent leadership. The executive branch will fix what it legally can with the Affordable Care Act. I’m afraid that in foreign policy – the one place where a president’s ambitions can run untrammeled – she will pursue such hooey as Arming the Kurds and Sending a Message to Vladimir Putin. The quasi war in Yemen continues.
In short, Clinton believes in government: a robust federal government that ensures equal protection under the law and, for better and increasingly worse, enforces American interests abroad. I wish Bernie Sanders had been the nominee. Clinton would be a competent hack for the next four years. Competence means preserving a system from encroachment. In other times she would be the conservative consensus choice — as indeed she is compared to Sanders.
Donald Trump is not the revolutionary, and I wish mandarins offended by the word “pussy” would relisten to Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark, George W. Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, and remember the eight years of Reagan. The party he theoretically heads has been populated by sans-culottes since January 1981. It’s hard for anyone not living in the United States — I don’t intend condescension — to understand how the GOP and its putative Democratic opposition since Ronald Wilson Reagan have perverted the idea of government: a sloth-like, cumbersome, unwieldy but reliable federal government to whose courts our citizens turn for equal protection under the law and whose seniors get Social Security payments once a month, hurricane or not, like clockwork. That’s how government is supposed to work.
Tight-lipped and defensive if not surly about public information; glamour-free; meticulous about greasing the machinery — that’s what a Clinton administration would look like. #I’mwithgov’t