Speaking of likely nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the writer Glenn Greenwald ended his appearance on the program “Democracy Now” this morning thus: “These are the two most unpopular presidential candidates ever to run, I think, in 30 years. They have the highest unfavorable ratings of any nominees in decades. The only thing they’re able to do to one another is try and be as toxic and nasty and destructive as possible, because everybody has already decided, more or less, that they’re so unlikable. And so, it’s going to be the opposite of an inspiring election. It’s just going to be two extremely unpopular people trying to destroy the other on both a personal level, backed by huge amounts of money and serving more or less the same interests.”
Now, I could quibble with parts of that (I think there’s a limit to how nasty they can or will be towards each other in some ways given that they represent, as Greenwald rightly states, more or less the same interests), but on balance, I think that’s a fair summary of the situation.
Unfortunately, Greenwald then in a subtle but critical way goes off track: “I think the two parties and the establishment leaders in Washington, and the people who support and run that whole system, have gotten exactly the election that they deserve. Unfortunately, Americans are going to have to suffer along with them.”
I think Greenwald is wrong on both these points and I think it’s central to how one views politics. Perhaps upon reflection Greenwald — who speaks in a rapid, engaging style — will agree.
First off, the people who support and run the whole system are not getting the election they “deserve”. They’re getting the election they largely wanted. One “choice” — despite some anti-establishment rhetoric — is a billionaire who indicates that he’s a xenophobic misogynist who at times doesn’t want a minimum wage at all. The other, by all serious indications, is the leading pro-war corporate elitist. That seems to be a no lose proposition to the establishment. The public would seem to be trapped in this system because so many people find each of them so repulsive.
But that’s exactly the more critical problem with Greenwald’s statement. The general public does not “have to suffer along with them.” The general public can and should organize themselves in response to these choices given. If people feel equally repelled by both, then there has never been a better time to boldly vote for a third party candidate: Green, Libertarian, etc.
If a voter finds either Trump or Clinton to be a “lesser evil” — then the voter can team up with their political “mirror image” and both, as a pair, vote for the third party candidates of their choice. That’s what I suggest at VotePact.org. This way, a “disenchanted Democrat” and “disenchanted Republican” who know and trust each other can break out of their partisan boxes and siphon off votes in pairs. They wouldn’t change the balance between Clinton and Trump, but they would build up other emerging parties and candidates.
Much of the discussion on the program Greenwald was on was about the pacifist priest Daniel Berrigan, who recently died. Despite his religious orientation, which might lead to some acceptance of suffering (Berrigan once commented if you want to follow Jesus, you should “look good on wood”), I would hope Berrigan would not be one to embrace “suffering” two bad choices needlessly. I’d think that Berrigan would want to find a way to bridge the two party divide — which is supported by little more than fear and hate — and have people who may disagree come together against such bondage with understanding.