I accept my complicity
I visited my Portland siblings* in mid-April.
Each was able to articulate with great objective detail their basis for supporting Bernie Sanders.
“You should know I support Clinton,” I told them at the beginning of my trip. “She’s a much more practical choice.”
To their credit, none of my siblings rolled their eyes or chided me. They continued to stand for their position, not against mine. By exerting no force whatsoever, they created space for me to hear them. Their firm but quiet passion gave me opportunity to consider why I believed Clinton was a more practical choice, and whether my position was similarly based on objective detail.
On our way back from an ice cream store trip, we saw a Sanders sign in the front lawn of a modest hillside home. The home’s owner saw me stopping and came out to converse with me. She, too, explained why she was for Sanders.
When I asked if I could take a picture of her with the sign, she waved me off and said that would destroy the picture. I laughed and snapped a photo without her even as I told her I disagreed with her conclusion.
I returned to Los Angeles still considering all the data I’d accumulated over the weekend. I started paying attention to the sheer number of times I read daily that Clinton was simply the more pragmatic candidate. The message was everywhere: in live discussion, social media, and mainstream news.
The message was so prevalent that I began to be disturbed by its prevalence. I saw more and more that two primary sound bytes were proffered for voting Clinton: “not Trump” and “more pragmatic.” I began to hear “more pragmatic” as “easier than assessing and articulating my own conclusions.” This didn’t go to anyone who gave detailed, cogent analyses why they were voting for Clinton without using the words “more pragmatic” and/or “not Trump.”
As the California primary neared, I found my own beliefs aligned with Sanders. I decided I’d be voting for him and thus my conscience in the primary, no matter how many people therefor told me I was “not pragmatic.”
The mainstream Democratic narrative being so clearly against Sanders, I understood there’d be shenanigans before the California election. Even knowing this, I was alarmed and disheartened to see members of the press naming Clinton the Democratic primary winner on June 6, 2016, aka “the day before the June 7, 2016 California primary.”
I shared a related headline on Instagram with the words, “This sums up my process disillusionment!”
I noted that news outlets everywhere shared graphs reflecting Clinton’s purported victory. Most didn’t include the caveat that the conclusion was based on pledged delegate votes to be cast in late July, earning Google the dubious distinction of–by actually stating that caveat–being the least likely to persuade disheartened Democratic voters that there was still some hope.
(Indeed, I almost forgot to actually deliver my completed ballot, having already resigned myself to the success of these media campaigns.)
I disaffiliated from the Democratic party June 10, 2016. I wanted to be clear that it does not represent me, and that I do not give it my consent to represent me.
Until the RNC, I leaned toward writing in Sanders for president. Following the RNC, I was–as the wife of a black man and mother of two black sons–so chilled by the Republican convention and platform’s potential impact to minorities and country that I decided to vote
for Clinton against Trump**, despite feeling nauseated by the thought of thus playing an active role in empowering the DNC to continue representing its interests instead of all its constituents.
Mere hours after I posted about my decision, almost 20,000 DNC emails were leaked. Many of these emails confirmed the DNC’s quiet but substantial support of Clinton in contravention of bylaws mandating its neutrality to all candidates. Several of the most troubling mails are aggregated here; among them, an exchange about how/whether to leverage its not-preferred candidate’s possible atheism and another in which a staffer refers to “RI gov” as “one of ours” in the context of “the Bernie camp” potentially being enabled to allege polling place misconduct. In another, DNC Communications Manager Luis Miranda simply writes “lol” in response to a forwarded article inviting a California debate.
(Unsurprisingly, the DNC is working on a narrative emphasizing fault on a single actor despite the systemic nature of collusion by multiple high-ranking DNC staffers.)
“They’re actually pretty tame!” pooh-poohed some liberals about the leaked emails. “You’re doing the work of Putin if you act on these!” berated others. Very, very few seemed interested in pausing and asking themselves who the DNC represents when they’ve already decided on their candidate apart from their voters.
Others this morning have policed two Trump misspellings in a tweet. At least a half dozen people I follow–see, e.g., here–engaged in this attack, prompting me to tweet:
Grammar/policing is abhorrent, whether or not I agree with those policing or those policed. Y’all hurt poor people when you try making it OK
Those who mock anyone for their spelling or grammar implicitly say, “You only deserve a place in discourse if you’re learned enough to do it the right way. Our way.” They confirm my impression from growing up in white liberal Eugene, Oregon that the Democratic party is–no less than the Republican one–a party for the elite, who nevertheless then wonder why so many people don’t register to vote. “If these are the people who supposedly stand for us,” I imagine tired, impoverished, disenfranchised voters asking, “what hope do we have?”
Despite all this, I stand–with gritted teeth and a knot in my stomach–by my decision to vote against Trump in this election. The potential impacts of a Trump presidency terrify me.
Prior to the election, I will participate in voter registration efforts and try to be a part of engaging people who have been cast aside by both key U.S. parties, no matter how poorly they spell or how little education their efforts just to survive have afforded them. Despite my passion for Sanders, I will remain neutral in my outreach. My objective is not to win this twisted election but to help people find their power to create a new narrative for future elections.
To that end, after the 2016 election, I will act in my scant power to open up the United States political system to fresh parties more able and willing to represent more of this nation’s people. This election cycle has opened my eyes to how the two-party system and its most powerful actors exist to sustain themselves, regardless of the will of the people. I will applaud each step the right direction even as I work toward a goal of more representative representation.
At no time will I tell you how to vote. I will not ask you to consider voting like me, but will ask that you please vote in accord with your conscience.
I will not join any chorus that chastises you or tells you you’ll be responsible for the downfall of America if you don’t vote for Clinton or do vote for Trump. The choice we voters came down to was rigged in ways that span months and decades back, so that the consequences of this presidential election come down not to your individual vote, but to the root cause of those who acted to circumvent true democracy by consciously shaping final candidates to match their preferences.
I do, however, want to be clear how I am voting, and why. If you donated to Sanders or the DNC after he entered the race, I want you to know you can take part in this class action lawsuit against the DNC.
This election cycle, I accept my complicity in acting to maintain this broken two-party system.
Beyond that, I reject any further personal complicity.
* My youngest, more conservative sister doesn’t live in Portland.
** Even as I strive to be more for than against, I must be truthful about how I’m voting.
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