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Voting is About Strategy and Power. Voting is Not a Consumer Choice

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You don’t have to agree with everything in this Jesse Myerson essay about why he is voting for Hillary Clinton even though he hates her policies to see that he understands what voting is about:

I’m ending this abstinence a few days early to explain why I will be voting for Clinton, whose politics I find so terrible that I made a meme series entitled “Hillary Clinton’s terrible politics.” I plan not just to vote, but to vote eagerly.

I’ve undergone two shifts in thinking over this long election season that influenced my decision. The first was becoming skeptical of the extent to which I’d bought into an understanding of voting as a self-expressive speech act. The language used in this framework—having a personal responsibility to make your voice heard—started to sound to me like individualistic, sappy liberal bullshit. Voting, I now think, is not chiefly a performance of self-expression, but a stone cold tactic for achieving a political outcome. Better to vote for someone whose politics are terrible, if that accomplishes something good, than to vote for someone whose politics are great, if that accomplishes nothing good, or worse, something bad. In this case, being a New Yorker, whatever my vote accomplishes is negligible: the point is I have shed my aversion to voting for terrible politicians.

That’s absolutely right. The idea of voting as a consumer choice is a cancer upon the nation. Moreover, the fact that people on the left–who might actually have critiques of consumerism–see voting as a consumer choice is tremendously problematic. Voting is about power. You might not have a lot of power in an election. But you have a little bit. Use it the right way. Wasting on a vanity third party candidate holds absolutely zero value. Not voting holds absolutely zero value. Voting for a flawed candidate holds a little bit of value. And it needs to be used in that way. Because individualistic, sappy liberal bullshit is exactly what should all avoid.

This is also interesting:

I also began to question whether the main consideration for leftists should be which candidate is likeliest to enact our agenda—the lesser evil. The fact is, the left is not yet strong enough to extract major concessions. To imagine what it would have been like had Sanders been elected president (as he surely would have if we’d gotten him nominated), just look at what Jeremy Corbyn is facing in the U.K. and scale it up. With Sanders hamstrung, the country would have decided that it had tried socialism and socialism had failed.

Now we are getting more into the counterfactual, but this makes a lot of sense to me. Bernie Sanders might have won this election. He might have lost. But had he won, his plan for post-election change was pretty bloody limited in how to actually enact change. At best, his administration probably wouldn’t be too much better for the left than Hillary Clinton’s. At worst, the Democratic Party divides horribly, his administration is a complete disaster, and the nation turns its back on any ideas of socialism for another generation. We can just look across the pond to see how it turns out.

In any case, vote. And vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter how far to the left you are. It’s the only realistic path forward at this historical moment.

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