I’m a lifelong democratic socialist and a die-hard supporter of Bernie Sanders and the political revolution he’s embodied. I have long-standing objections to the Clintons and the way in which they’ve triangulated the Democratic Party rightward through the years.
But after a brief thought experiment—imagining what it would feel like to wake up on November 9th to the news that Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States—it becomes a no-brainer to state that I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton and do all I can to prevent her being defeated by Donald Trump.
I humbly suggest that my “Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary” friends (of which I have several) try the same thought experiment:
Are you ready? Close your eyes and imagine:
You wake up the day after the elections to discover that Donald Trump will be the next President. Would you feel happy, celebrating that “crooked Hillary” had gotten her comeuppance, and confident that the chaos to be created by President Trump would make it likely that the political revolution is just around the corner?
Or would you be sick to your stomach knowing that a majority of American voters had been overcome by fear and loathing and that the darkest, most racist, misogynist and xenophobic elements of American society had prevailed? Would you be Googling how to move to Canada or another safe haven?
What would a Trump presidency look like?
● First, if you care about overturning Citizens United and limiting the ability of billionaires to buy elections, fugettaboutit. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland would never get a Senate vote. Trump would nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia who would double down on Citizens United, block voting rights, side with corporate rights against citizens’ rights and possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, sending thousands of women to back alley abortionists. And even if he served for only one term, President Trump is likely to get at least two more Supreme Court picks. (Remember, a president serves for four or eight years, but a Supreme Court justice serves for life.) Whatever other shortcomings she may have, Hillary Clinton would likely appoint liberal Justices like those appointed by Bill Clinton (Stephen Breyer and “The Notorious RBG”—Ruth Bader Ginsburg). With two or three picks, Hillary could reshape the court in a generally progressive direction for a generation.
● In order to implement his proposal to quickly deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, Trump would need to create a special force of tens of thousands of armed agents to invade workplaces, homes, and schools, and to stop cars and pedestrians to check papers and round up those without proper documentation. America would start to look like a police state.
● Trump would deport Dreamers, immigrants who were brought by their parents to America at a young age and have spent most of their lives in this country going to school and working. Instead of contributing to American society, Dreamers would be forced to hide in the shadows.
● People of the Muslim faith, and/or everyone from countries that had experienced terrorism, would be banned from entering the U.S. That includes people from friendly Muslim countries like Indonesia, Turkey (a member of NATO), and the United Arab Emirates, as well as people from countries that had experienced terrorism like France, the United Kingdom and Germany. Travel, tourism, and commerce would be harmed, resulting in considerable damage to the economy.
● Russian President Vladimir Putin would be drinking Champagne. America’s NATO allies, particularly those close to Russia, would be uncertain if the U.S. would help defend them. Putin would feel liberated to engage in dangerous foreign adventures.
● The Iran nuclear arms treaty would be torn up. With no restraints, Iran would have the ability to develop a nuclear weapon in about a year, threatening the stability of the Middle East and the security of Israel. There’s a good chance that Israel would pre-emptively bomb Iranian nuclear sites, setting off a regional war.
● Trump would start trade wars with China, Mexico and other countries, likely leading to a severe recession or depression.
● Lacking his own domestic policy, Trump would likely outsource domestic policy to Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Senate and House Republican leaders. Look forward to a Republican Congress passing and President Trump signing legislation to abolish the Affordable Care Act and throw millions off health insurance, to cut taxes for the wealthy and balloon the deficit, and to privatize Social Security and Medicare.
● Nothing whatsoever would be done by the United States to combat climate change for at least the next four to eight years. Trump would likely abrogate U.S. commitments under the Paris climate change agreement, leading other countries to renege as well. At the end of a Trump presidency, the planet would be closer to environmental catastrophe.
In short, America would become a very dark and dangerous place with the lives of untold millions of real people irreparably damaged. And the country would be farther, not closer, to a political revolution. In fact, it’s even possible that the election of President Trump would be the last democratic election in American history.
Now briefly reverse the thought experiment. Imagine waking up on November 9 to President Hillary Clinton:
Wouldn’t you be at least a little relieved that disaster had been averted? It would hardly be the start of the political revolution. But wouldn’t you feel at least a brief flash of pride at America electing its first woman President? There’s a good chance of confirming Supreme Court justices who would overturn Citizens United And with the Democratic Party having moved significantly to the left, and embraced the most progressive platform in American history, circumstances, even if Hillary Clinton is a political opportunist, she’s likely to govern less from the center than Bill Clinton.
If she doesn’t, the Sanders political revolution would be there to protest and try to keep her honest. Bernie and other progressive senators like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown would be there to object to corporatist policies, and the political revolution would bring tens of thousands of people in the streets.
Are you done with the thought experiment? Now, however disappointed we are that Sanders fell just short, and however angry we may be at the manipulation by the Democratic National Committee, wouldn’t waking up to Hillary Clinton as president be better than waking up to President Trump?
If so, get your butts to the polls on November 8, hold your nose, if necessary, to vote for Clinton, and bring five of your friends. At the same time, keep participating in the political revolution.