Home > politics, Reflections, Social Justice > For the people

For the people

A single word changed my presidential vote.

On August 4, 2016, U.S. president Barack Obama addressed Republican nominee Donald Trump’s cautions about potentially rigged elections as “ridiculous.”

Before he said this, I’d only barely persuaded myself to vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. I did so with grave reservations, having exited the party June 10, 2016, disgusted with how the purportedly neutral DNC appeared to have favored Clinton over contender Bernie Sanders.

My impressions were confirmed when WikiLeaks dropped a portion of the DNC emails leaked to it in late June. (Heavy.com posted 22 of the “most damaging emails” here. Latinx voters were “taco bowl” voters, and Sanders a potential atheist whose affiliations they figured they could spin to perturb some voters for a “several points” difference.) WikiLeaks promised more emails were on the way, but wanted to arrange their timing and grouping for maximum impact.

I was left with the troubling question: If the DNC had already decided on “their” candidate apart from the people they’re supposed to represent, how can they really represent the people? More to the point, who do they actually represent?

Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned shortly after the late June leaks; Clinton immediately named her honorary presidential campaign chair, before then showing up last week to endorse her at her Florida campaign office.

Three other high level DNC officials resigned shortly afterward; all were praised by the DNC for their efforts, as the DNC assured voters that its representatives’ damaging words hadn’t impacted its neutrality in action.

This all left an even worse taste in my mouth, particularly with Wasserman Schultz’s all too plausible late July statement that she “took one for the team.” That “team” clearly wasn’t “Democratic voters across the United States,” a point further emphasized in her statements last week about “the work we did to prepare for Hillary Clinton to be our nominee and then make sure that we could get her elected president.”

Independently, a 96-page election justice report had assembled abundant examples of election irregularities broadly favoring Clinton.

But then, according to President Obama, the prospect of election fraud was “ridiculous.”

If it was ridiculous, I wasn’t laughing.

Obama’s statement sat ill with me, but I couldn’t pinpoint why.

I felt like it evidenced a shocking, calculated disregard of the circumstances, and wondered if I’d simply witnessed the tip of the disregard iceberg.

I sought out the writer whose “Perfect End to Democratic Primary: Anonymous Superdelegates Declare Winner Through Media” article had perfectly summed up my concerns in early June. I found that writer, Glenn Greenwald, had authored several books. I immediately bought one, With Liberty and Justice for Some, for reading on my Kindle.

I felt nauseated as I read Greenwald’s compelling, well documented case that the United States has a two-tier justice system. These tiers aren’t “Republican” and “Democrat,” but “elite” and “non-elite,” with both Republicans and Democrats playing critical roles in having created and maintained this increasingly destructive (to non-elites) system. In brief, President Obama’s administration has gone above and beyond prior administrations–including Republican ones–in many related ways, contributing heavily to maintenance of a prison and surveillance state benefiting wealthy, lobbying corporations.

While President Obama urges other countries to turn a careful eye to their violent histories, the better for them to create positive national futures, he’s been careful to emphasize that Americans must look to the future instead of even considering examining factors contributing to, say, legislation-enhanced crises like the 2008 financial one.

(As a working-out-of-home, commuting mom, I’d ask that you read the book for details, and then supplement it with well researched, assiduously supported articles on The Intercept and Greenwald’s Twitter timeline. Thanks to Greenwald, I now understand the difference between “adversarial journalism” and what’s more widely on display in U.S. mainstream media today.)

Despite already feeling guilty for having voted for President Obama in 2012, I decided to keep reading. I bought and devoured Greenwald’s No Place to Hide, documenting how he’d worked with whistleblower Edward Snowden to reveal the horrifically sweeping scope of U.S. surveillance, including its own citizens. Here, too, Obama has revealed himself to be a powerful opponent of the very transparency on which he campaigned.

After finishing both books, I felt depressingly certain that the DNC’s support of Clinton reflected an overarching disregard of U.S. citizens by their elected officials. Taxpayers might pay their paltry legislative salaries, but those are a pittance compared to what they can earn from lobbyists.

I was especially chilled having read some of The New Jim Crow. By offering local police agencies money to fight the war against drugs, the federal government has militarized local police agencies while effectively, terrifyingly extending its reach into the state and local level.

In a world where President Obama has taken increasingly dramatic steps against transparency and those such as Snowden and Assange who take steps to increase it, “democracy” seems like an awfully strong word to use for the political system U.S. politicians are building … with tacit support of voters who shrug and say, “I guess that’s just how it is.”

More by the day, I find that the U.S. two-party system supports those working within the two parties and their networks of contractors and lobbyists, not the citizens those officials are supposed to represent.

Having read how prominent Republicans and Democrats alike have worked to empower individual and corporate elites at the expense of ordinary citizens, I cannot vote for Clinton. A vote for Clinton–even apart from her political acts, including those around her private email server, increased weapons sales to nations (including other human rights abusing ones; foremost among them, Saudi Arabia) that supported her Clinton Foundation, and evidence she rewarded Clinton Foundation donors in her role as secretary of state–would also be a vote for this broken system.

I don’t fault anyone for fearing Trump, or voting for Clinton or even Trump. I understand. I ask that y’all kindly work to understand my position in turn, whether or not you ever agree with it.

But I’ll be voting third party, against torture and endless war, and I’ll be looking for peaceful ways to help create a multi-party system that incentivizes elected representatives to vote not with the highest bidder, but for the people.

If that’s “ridiculous,” I’ll take ridiculous over its alternatives. Any day.

  1. August 17, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    ThIrd party for me… for the last couple elections.

    • August 17, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      I salute you, sir! I wish I’d come to this conclusion much, much sooner … but I honestly, sadly, didn’t give it enough thought.

      • August 17, 2016 at 6:51 pm

        I had a long conversation with a left leaning friend, myself right leaning, about our lack of choices, and he challenged me to vote third party, as he already did on occasion, I said, “but that’s throwing my vote away,” and he replied, “it has to start somewhere.” One vote will lead to others voting that way next time, and on and on…

        • August 17, 2016 at 7:35 pm

          Hear, hear for that friend, and your taking the step! I’m left-leaning and had this idea from my teen days that left-leaning translated one way, without tracking very well afterward how/whether my perception was updated to align with new information. I feel a little sad that I didn’t reach this conclusion earlier, but hey, I’m glad to reach it now, and to have some support as I do. Thank you. 🙂

          • August 17, 2016 at 7:55 pm

            And thanks for sharing your journey. Hopefully it will convince others to pay attention and see there are other options.

  2. August 17, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I really am so glad you’ve come to this conclusion, Deb. as djmatticus says, “It has to start somewhere”. Maybe this is the year we finally see a corrupt and broken system fall.

    • August 17, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      There’s this text-based image I’ve seen a few times: “In [x election year], I wanted to vote for so-and-so, but I had to vote the lesser [more practical] evil. Maybe next time!” Each election, the names changed, but the other text remained the same. I’ve read a lot the last few months, but it’s possible that little bit of text was the most inspiring of all.

      We do have to start somewhere, and I’m glad to be starting on a new path this year!

      I’ll be paying extra attention to local elections, too. Before, I tended to vote Democrat across the board if time-crunched; now, I’m going to really get into voting records, where available. The initial before the letter tells me a lot less about what gains to expect than I (mis)understood before.

      • August 18, 2016 at 12:31 pm

        I agree with you. If we really want things to change we can only start the process by voting for the human individual whose values most closely reflect our own. It won’t be a perfect match, EVER – but the R/D/X next to their name says almost nothing. Who would have expected a modern Democrat to be as hawkish as Hillary, for example? My first concern is with their character. Do they, taken all in all, stand for values I can accept – even if I don’t necessarily agree with their path to realizing those values? And do they STAND? Or do they claim to have values but invariably vote with their party?

    • August 17, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      Also, I debated not posting this (so exhausting and time consuming, even only including 10% of what I’d like to!), but decided it was important in light of where I left off my last political posts. Now, having seen enough, I’m going to be turning attention toward how to ensure more people are heard better and less time fretting about why I didn’t see everything more clearly sooner. 🙂

      One way I’d like to do that is finding ways to advocate for more candidates in national debates. I read a great article yesterday with this illuminating quote from one of the bipartisan chairs: “As a party chairman, it’s my responsibility to strengthen the two-party system.” So much said in so few words. Now, to see about having more parties included; though prospects appear low for this election, perhaps steps now will yield different results next election!

      • August 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm

        Well, Gary Johnson is pretty close to the 15% he needs to be included in the debates. Doesn’t look like any other third party representative will make it this year, but at least that’s a start. I’ve been wondering how one goes about influencing the pollsters … Why do they so seldom give one the option of only two choices??? And why, why, WHY do the mainstream press – with all their claims to be “free” and “fifth estate” – so stubbornly ignore non-mainstream politicians? Except for Trump. Maybe that’s the take-away … scream like a spoiled brat who ate too much sugar at the party, maybe get sick on something, and yeah, you’ll get attention.

  3. August 17, 2016 at 7:58 pm


  4. Paul
    August 17, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Well said Deborah.

  5. August 18, 2016 at 4:11 am

    There are a lot of compelling details highlighted here that have weighed heavily on me while reading and watching the news. I’m convinced that the “news” we casually see every day is filtered and manufactured. The news I read is harder to find and once found, even harder to convince others that it truly is the news and information they should be paying attention to. I as well will be voting third party as it seems that Gary Johnson will most certainly be on the ballot in my state. I’m supporting him to not only be on the ballot, but to also be included with the debates later this year. I can get behind his no nonsense approach to several major issues. Although he is Libertarian by title, he is in a lot of senses a true Independent in all senses of the word. My wish is that Bernie Sanders decides to run as an Independent, however I doubt that wish will come true.

    • August 18, 2016 at 4:40 am

      I share your conviction about today’s “news.”

      One of the things that bugged me about the “ridiculous” statement was how widely it was shared by mainstream media with such media seeming almost like an extension of the current administration, and with virtually no address whatsoever of why such claims might be less than “ridiculous.” (Indeed, the next day or two, reporting on how The Russians might hack our elections was all the rage.)

      The sheer slant of the coverage there helped me see more clearly that there was mainstream media/political collusion to shape the most prominent narrative, though I still didn’t totally understand why it functioned that way.

      Most the links I’m posting on my politics page are grouped by date of my posting. The top three, though, are related to media, with the first one explaining how Bill Clinton’s actions in office helped shaped the mainstream media we see today.

      Greenwald’s breakdown, with chillingly abundant insight/quotes revealing how many journalists now prop up Beltway elites as “their own” (particularly troubling in re: matters of advocating against liability for politicians, contractors, and lobbyists or even exploring how those groups’ actions led to devastating impacts) meant … I was no longer confused by people who get their news from one single newspaper or channel seeing a very different total picture than me.

      What I saw (or, more accurately, didn’t see) while Bernie was still a contender was just a fraction of the total picture. I’m sure I’m still only seeing a fraction, but the larger fraction I do see is profoundly troubling.

      I, too, wish Sanders would step back into the ring. He’s made it clear he plans to back Clinton totally and wishes those who support him would. He’s had decades to see clearly how the game is played, but I have not; now that I can see some of the fuller picture, I can’t just follow him there because he wishes it.

      I tried. I really did … but the fact I tried so hard, believing a third party vote to be a wasted one, confirms for me that the two-party system isn’t a system that benefits most this nation’s people.

  6. August 18, 2016 at 5:10 am

    Thank you for the information. It is much needed! No matter how people decide to vote! They need to be aware of the FACTS! I consider myself a democrat who has NEVER been solely a democrat, LOL so with that said I never vote straight democrat and I find that this year I very torn as I do not fully align with current HOPEFUL for that party as ‘my’ candidate did not make it through. SO I have to do some research and soul searching however I know who it won’t be that much I know at least. That’s a third of the battle, sigh!

    • August 20, 2016 at 8:06 am

      It really is a third of the battle! It’s hard these days, when we have so much information and information substitute available, and so little time (it feels) to dive into any/all of it.

      As to facts, hear, hear! Right now, I’m seeing so much disinformation* about third party candidates that I really, really wish folks would pursue information. Certain sound bytes cast about by third party candidates reflect not even basic attempts to actually research the candidates themselves, y’know?

      A couple nights, I got all misty-eyed listening to Larry Wilmore’s farewell episode. I then moved on to Trevor Noah’s show. When I heard how he boiled down two third party candidates, I was done with the show–not the episode, but the show itself. I want to begin really, actively supporting media that doesn’t make people into caricatures of themselves while totally distracting from what they actually stand for! I’m trying really, really hard to not do this myself, because we’re a;; people at heart. Even candidates for who I can’t in good conscience vote!

      * I had to look here to make sure I was using the right word. It’ll be a little while until I’ve internalized differences between propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation, though with practice all become easier to distinguish from information!

      • August 20, 2016 at 5:51 pm

        Man I like this website…the disinformation section was quite interesting! I have seen it time and again and like you said we use the terms incorrectly just because the media ‘teaches’ us the terms but they themselves wither do not know, are misinformed, or intentionally disinforming us for personal gain. I would hope not the latter but man in this society I’m not surprised.

  7. August 18, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Amen sister! If there is ever a term where a 3rd party candidate stands a chance this one is it.

    • August 20, 2016 at 8:07 am

      Truth!!! While it’s still probably unlikely, it’s this election of record dislike by the two primary candidates that’s most likely to set the stage for better options in the future …

  8. August 18, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Not only do I totally understand your position, but whole-heartedly encourage you to vote your concious. You presented a highly well-written, well-researched piece. Beautiful post. Many of my friends are voting the same way…I, however, fear that the votes will be “meaningless” and end up furthering Trump’s cause. Who knows? The cynic in me doesn’t believe that “the system” will allow anything other than a “democrat” or “republican”, so I will vote for Clinton….whoever wins, I sincerely hope/pray that they lead us with wisdom and compassion.

    • August 20, 2016 at 8:19 am

      I agree that the system won’t permit another party to win. The fact “the system”–through its powerful representatives from both parties–works actively to facilitate against a viable third party is part of why I’m committed to voting third party.

      Indeed, when the bipartisan committee that controls debates makes the bar so high for a third-party candidate to debate and gain that added exposure, it’s clear that the benefit of third parties is rightfully perceived as a detriment to the two primary parties. One of the bipartisan chairs who changed the rules to omit third parties actually said, “As a party chairman, it’s my responsibility to strengthen the two-party system.”

      Still, there’s a very practical good in voting third party. I discovered it a couple days ago while reading a PBS article “It’s time for black people to break the two-party system.” Its author wrote:

      Voting third party is a long-term strategy. The Green Party only needs 5 percent of the popular vote to qualify for public campaign funds come 2020. Such funds could amount to $10 million, a sum that could translate into effective grassroots community organizing in key counties across states.

      I googled and confirmed this this via fec.gov:

      Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election, only the Republican and Democratic parties were eligible for 2012 convention grants, and only their nominees were eligible to receive grants for the general election once they were nominated. Third-party candidates could qualify for public funds retroactively if they received 5% or more of the vote in the general election.

      While prospects of a third party winning this election are probably low, that’s hugely hopeful for subsequent elections. A third party vote isn’t wasted, but a firm, hopeful vote for more robust options–and more robust democracy in this republic–in the future. 🙂

      • August 20, 2016 at 2:27 pm

        As usual, Deborah, your insight and comments are so thoughtful and so spot on. You truly are an amazing woman. Hopefully, you’re having some fun in between all this election nonsense. It really is a circus, this year…..any way, have a grand weekend with the munchkins and your hubby and thanks, again, for taking the time out of your busy life to comment. (((Hugs))) Lucie 😉

  9. August 18, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I respect your choice and how you have come to it. As I read your post, my stomach seized and I burst into tears, and this time, for whatever reason, I’m feeling more awareness of exactly why. I realize that I need a little time to put my point of view into words in a way that others might have a chance of understanding, because they are deeply rooted in my experience of being black in America, of being poor in America, of wanting to be able to choose with my conscience how I live my life in America. I need to put those words on my blog and let them go.

    I want to figure out how to stop thinking about this election and calm myself so I can just live my life, but one of the things you and I have in common is the belief that America, the world, needs to beome a better place, and that it won’t happen if people who care stay silent or avoid the mess by refusing to look at it. Your post and “American Denial”, a film I saw this week on Independent Lens, have shined more light on details of what I consider branches of the same societal mess. I feel as if all this information has become a personal sort of critical mass in my brain. It’s probably time for me to be this upset.

    • August 20, 2016 at 8:23 am

      I have so much I want to say to you here, but I’ve got tons of errands to run and am already running behind! Argh!

      For right now, I’ll say simply that I hear you, I support you, and I hope you do write everything you’re observing and feeling. Sitting down to write this took a huge load off my shoulders by helping me to find clarity amidst the whirlwind of hopelessness and frustration that was all jumbled in my brain before I sat down to write it. I wasn’t able to give it nearly enough time to say everything I wanted to, but it said enough.


  10. August 18, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Perhaps it’s time for the no-longer democrats and no-longer republicans to decide what we all can agree on, and start forming a new party with a new “platform” so there is someone we all want to vote for in 2020…

  11. August 20, 2016 at 9:15 am

    This really could be the election that breaks the two-party system’s rule (or starts to, anyway). It’s not outside the realm of possibility for the green and libertarian parties to get 5 percent, and if that happens, maybe both parties would have enough money to get enough exposure to be included in the debates in 2020. Even if both parties wouldn’t do more than chisel away at the R&D’s rule, it could be enough to encourage more accountability and less BS.

  1. August 21, 2016 at 7:26 am
  2. August 25, 2016 at 7:20 am
  3. August 27, 2016 at 12:15 am
  4. September 18, 2016 at 9:25 am
  5. September 18, 2016 at 10:12 am
  6. September 20, 2016 at 8:07 pm
  7. September 30, 2016 at 2:38 am
  8. November 13, 2016 at 3:01 pm
  9. January 9, 2017 at 6:45 pm
  10. June 16, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Please weigh in--kindly!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: