Another Open Letter To Swing State Progressives

Note: This story originally appeared on my blog on November 7, 2016.

By this time tomorrow, the 2016 Presidential Election will be officially over. The American people will have chosen the 45th President of the United States of America. Unfortunately, there is a thirty percent chance that that person will be Donald Trump.

If you’re a progressive, you’re probably feeling equally apprehensive about a Clinton victory. In fact, you’re probably so apprehensive that you’ve decided to cast a vote for a third party candidate. Or maybe you feel so disgusted that you’ve decided to stay home from the polls altogether.

Please don’t do that. And that goes double for the millions of progressives who currently reside in swing states. If you cast a ballot for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson in a swing state, you are voting for Trump. If you are voting for Evan McMullin outside of Utah, you are voting for Trump. If you write-in Bernie Sanders’ name, you are voting for Trump. If you throw up your hands and just skip the polls altogether, you are voting for Trump.

And no progressive should be okay with doing that.

You see, progressives denounced the Iraq War and vociferously protested the “enhanced interrogation techniques” and warrantless wiretapping of the Bush Regime. Progressives called for the end of racist criminal justice policies like stop and frisk and the Rockerfeller sentencing laws. Progressives were pushing for socialized medicine long before Obamacare was implemented. Progressives are currently fighting to prevent the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Progressives agitated for marriage equality and other LGBTQ rights. Progressives care about the environment and fought to have climate change recognized as a reality. Progressives even changed the words we use to describe our realities; terms like “politically correct”, “hate crime”, and “rape culture” entered our lexicon as a direct result of progressive thinkers. Progressives defend the rights of the poor, the undocumented, the disabled, the sick, the homeless, and the otherwise downtrodden every day.

And guess what? Those types of progressive gains were largely incremental, taking years, if not decades, to only partially attain. Unfortunately, it will only take a few years for a batshit-crazy president, a Republican-controlled Congress, and a few right-wingers on the Supreme Court to undo the gains that have been made and to completely squelch the ones in the making.

Donald Trump is diametrically opposed to all things progressive and he has said as such throughout the campaign. The only people who would benefit from a Trump presidency are straight white cisgender men and, even then, only if they are native-born Americans who are as wealthy and influential as Trump pretends to be. (Trump, despite his pretensions to the contrary, doesn’t have “the common touch”. Despite his attacks on “global elites,” Trump was born into a wealthy family and has been using family money and social connections to get ahead his whole life. Trump would never socialize with the impoverished blue-collar “deplorables” who flock to his rallies.)

If you aren’t a privileged straight white cisgender American male, a third party vote in a swing state is a vote for your own destruction; don’t think for a second that Trump didn’t mean what he said about building that wall or naming ultra-conservative judges to the Supreme Court or deporting 11 million people or implementing racist policing strategies to combat (historically low) crime rates or rolling back reproductive rights. If you are a privileged straight white American cisgender man, casting a vote for Trump via Stein/Johnson/Sanders is voting for someone else’s destruction; not everyone can afford to flee to Canada or to live in liberal coastal cities like New York or Los Angeles. Your vote will have serious consequences for people who aren’t like you. Now’s not the time to burn it all down out of spite.

So, please, do the right thing today and vote for Clinton. She’s much more progressive than she has been given credit for, voting along with Bernie Sanders about ninety percent of the time while they served in the Senate. She’s highly qualified and unlike Trump, beholden to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Clinton can’t get away with flipping off the left wing and she knows it. Better the president who is inclined to listen to (progressive) reason at least some of the time than the one who isn’t inclined to listen at all.