Ever since I started telling people I was planning to vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in November, I've gotten a lot of criticism for wanting to "waste" my vote on a minor-party candidate who can't win, and I've done my best to ignore that. But as the polls have tightened between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Hillary supporters have gone ballistic with Dr. Stein and her supporters. On her Medium page, film blogger and Hillary supporter Sasha Stone assailed Stein backers for preparing to give Dr. Stein enough votes to deprive Hillary of a victory and help Trump win the Presidency, and she dismissed them as being selfish and uncaring toward the well-being of the country and caring only - wait for it - about their coolness. "The last thing you care about is what happens to anyone else," Stone wrote. "You don’t care about the environment. You don’t care about the future of the already endangered animals. You don’t care about the Supreme Court because all you really care about is yourself. Your coolness matters more than the welfare of others. You know that people pay attention to you when you say you’re voting for Jill Stein because it means you’re edgy and not a sheep and not a mainstreamer."
Someone needs to take an anger management course.
It isn't just scribes like Stone trying to gaslight Stein supporters. Sean Colarossi, writing in PoliticusUSA.com, insists that the polls are so close that any vote for Dr. Stein would be irresponsible and put Trump in the White House. Dan Savage has said that disaster will come to minority groups if the "pasty white Green Party supporters" vote for Dr. Stein and skew the results in Trump's favor. On his TV show "Real Time," Bill Maher said it was important to support Hillary to keep Trump from winning by default and told liberals to do what they've been told to do for thirty years - that is, put aside their pet causes - and vote for Hillary because the country's future depends on it. Actress Kerry Washington, appearing on Maher's show a few weeks later and sporting an oversized Hillary button, said we would be "voting against ourselves" by voting for a third-party candidate (though, to be fair, she did not mention Dr. Stein by name). I have friends who are supporting Hillary and bashing Dr. Stein and her backers; one of them said on Facebook that Stein supporters are annoying and irrational.
Gee, why are all of these Hillary backers bashing, insulting, and smearing a nice lady like Dr. Stein - and her supporters? Could it be, maybe, just maybe, that they know they're backing a fundamentally flawed candidate who represents the corrupt, bourgeois Democratic establishment and they're threatened by, of all things, a real liberal who appeals to progressive voters who, having repeatedly been thrown under the bus by the Democratic Party for decades, have had enough of establishment Democrats and aren't going to take their crap any more?
Dr. Stein has an ambitious agenda to put America back on the right track, with plans to get the country on a renewable-energy grid by 2030, guarantee health care to all, end police brutality and mass incarceration, advance rights for women and minorities, and end the Citizens United ruling. And Hillary . . . well, I'm not sure what Hillary wants to do, but she's made some mealy-mouthed comments about granting tax credits for the poor and expanding child care. I also know she's supported an interventionist policy in the Middle East, she doesn't think we need to restore the Glass-Steagall Act to rein in big banks, she only came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal after Bernie Sanders did, and she's been supported by Monsanto. And what I know most about Hillary is not what she is, but what she isn't. She's not Donald Trump.
Not good enough. Trump is a clown, a buffoon, and a bigot (though he does have a good singing voice!), but Hillary is going to have to do more than not be Trump if she wants to earn the votes and trust of the millions of liberals who backed Bernie Sanders for President and the dozen or so of us who backed Martin O'Malley for President. I haven't heard Hillary offer any bold, ambitious plans that would make me vote for her in a heartbeat. She can't. She's too tied to a Democratic establishment in bed with Wall Street bankers and major corporations to offer another New Deal, which only serves to remind us that she'll only offer another raw deal.
Let's get a few things straight. Every time a Democrat has been elected President since the 1980s, we liberals have always expected a change for the better and have ended up getting business as usual. We've seen Republicans unite to resist change and seen first Bill Clinton and then Barack Obama try to work with the Republicans only to see the GOP take over one or both houses of Congress and reinstate right-wing supply-side economics. If we get anything we support, it's usually in watered-down form, be it tax credits or a tweak of the health care "system." More social programs? Nah. Democrats don't have time for that. They're too busy pursuing neoliberalism, that lamebrained theory of trying to provide for the greater good through market "reform" and privatization.
Maybe that's why the Democrats have been declining and falling lately. On President Obama's watch, they've lost the House, they're down to eighteen governorships and majority control of only 30 out of 99 state legislative chambers, they've lost the Senate, and Democratic "rising stars" now have brilliant futures behind them. And after all that, the Democratic establishment, convinced that Hillary was their only hope of winning the 2016 presidential election, discouraged Hillary's potential opponents for the party's presidential nomination, punished those who actually ran, tried to stifle debate during the primaries and caucuses, and then used its muscle to discredit and demolish Bernie Sanders when he turned out to be far more for real than Martin O'Malley ended up being. And now these same people who offended those of us who supported Sanders or O'Malley by tipping the scales for Hillary and running roughshod over us are demanding that we vote for Hillary, because if we don't and if we vote for Dr. Stein instead, Trump will win and destroy the Republic and it will be all our fault. That's not the way to get us liberals on their side. Bullying us and threatening us only serves to remind us why we're so sick of the Democratic establishment. Dr. Stein scares establishment Democrats because she is providing a place for progressives who should be in the Democratic Party but who no longer feel welcome there . . . or never felt welcome at all. That's why Hillary Clinton's backers are attacking Dr. Stein; she threatens them and their candidate more than Trump.
Which is ironic, because Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential nominee, appears to be hurting Hillary more than Dr. Stein is. Not only is Johnson far ahead of Dr. Stein in the polls, he's attracting moderate and conservative Republicans and independents repulsed by Trump who had considered voting for Hillary but are now giving Johnson a serious look. Hillary's supporters can't say that liberals who should vote for her but vote for Dr. Stein help Trump, and they shouldn't say that she's losing these liberal voters to Dr. Stein . . . because Hillary never had them in the first place. They either backed someone else in the primaries and caucuses or skipped them altogether.
Another reason Dr. Stein scares Hillary backers is because, like Sanders, she's exposed neoliberalism as a crock and reminds the Democrats of their proud but forsaken New Deal/Great Society past. But unlike Sanders, she can't be controlled. Nor can anyone control Ajamu Baraka, Dr. Stein's vice presidential running mate, who acidly noted on a recent CNN appearance that Obama's failures as President aren't only because of Republican racism. Baraka said that Obama had "an historic opportunity to transform this country," but did not live up to it. "He allowed his commitment to neoliberal policies and a neoliberal world view," Baraka said, "to undermine the possibility of greatness."
No, Sasha Stone, I am not selfish . . . and I am not cool. Geez, I still love Jethro Tull. No, Sean Colarossi, I am not irresponsible. Forgetful, maybe, like when I fail to take out the trash once in awhile, but not irresponsible. And no, Kerry Washington, going third party and challenging the major-party duopoly is not voting against yourself; it's being true to yourself. So why don't all of you Hillary backers leave us Stein supporters alone? And the Democratic establishment has a lot of damn gall to force Hillary on us liberals and then try to scare us into voting for her because the alternative is Donald Trump. The Democrats had an opportunity to nominate Bernie Sanders or Martin O'Malley and run on a real progressive agenda and rebuild the party for the future. Instead, they've nominated a candidate who represents the failures of their recent past. The Democrats didn't do themselves any favors by making history with the nomination of Hillary as their first female presidential candidate; in fact, they may have consigned themselves to the dustbin of history.