Some may see this letter as redundant and think of me as a sore loser for writing this. Honestly, both claims are probably true to a degree… but I selfishly choose to write this for the sake of my conscience.
In November, I will be voting for Secretary Clinton in the presidential election, and I will remember why I did not vote for her in the primaries.
I will remember her role in the 2009 Honduran military coup that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. While the rest of the international community was quick to condemn the coup and withdraw its ambassadors, Secretary Clinton fought global pressure to reinstate Zelaya and caved to right-wing party lines within the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ignoring the wishes of congressional Democrats, Clinton’s State Department continued to send aid to Porfirio Lobo’s interim government in spite of their human rights abuses, which heavily outweighed any legal concerns regarding the former president. Honduras now has the world’s highest homicide rate and a judicial system that hardly functions. As U.C. Santa Cruz history Professor Dana Frank claimed in the New York Times, “That abyss is a good part the State Department’s making.”
I will remember that the real Libyan scandal we should care about has nothing to do with e-mails. Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates claims that Secretary Clinton’s support for bombing Gaddafi’s forces was what pushed President Obama over the edge in making a “51-49” decision. We do not know the total civilian casualties resulting from the U.S.-NATO airstrike. Numbers currently range anywhere between 72 to over 7,000, and NATO refuses to investigate allegations that they had unclear bombing targets. What we do know is that foreign military intervention helped create the Libyan crisis that we have now, which has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties at the hands of rival warlords—warlords that NATO played a decisive role in bringing to power. We also know that Secretary Clinton maintained that we had a moral duty to intervene in Libya with claims that Gaddafi’s troops were using rape as a weapon and committing serious violations of human rights. Amnesty International has discredited both of these claims (rebel forces fabricated many of these claims, and western media readily adopted them).
I will remember that she unapologetically supports questionable actions committed by the Israeli state. In 2005, Senator Clinton visited the West Bank and voiced support for the most prominent example of apartheid that exists today, saying, “This [barrier] is not against the Palestinian people. This is against the terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help to prevent terrorism. They have to change their attitudes about terrorism.” Because, of course, all Palestinians harbor pro-terrorist attitudes. Despite recently (c. 2013-14) claiming that settlement activity was her biggest gripe with the Israeli government, Secretary Clinton made it clear in 2009 that halting settlement construction in the West Bank “has never been a precondition” for resuming talks between Israel and the Palestinians. I worry about how Secretary Clinton never spoke of Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians and instead claimed that Palestinians are motivated by “incitement.”
I will remember that the recklessness of four of her six top campaign donors (Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Morgan Stanley) helped cause the 2008 financial crisis. I worry about her ties to such institutions, and more importantly, I worry about the fact that she repeatedly claimed, “no bank is too big to fail,” earlier in the primaries despite what happened less than a decade ago. But, of course, now she is all about “making the economy work for everyone.”
I will remember that Hillary Clinton has provided favorable treatment to the Clinton Foundation and campaign donors during her time as Secretary of State, and that such behavior will likely continue if she assumes the presidency. We all know that her alleged involvement in the Travelgate, Filegate and Vince Foster controversies during Bill Clinton’s presidency was probably concocted as part of right-wing conspiracy theories, but I still cannot help but see her as just another shady politician.
“Hey, Hillary is here for all of us. Can you not see how she has been fighting for people from marginalized communities for decades? Can you not see how much experience she has? Can you not see that she has earned the presidency?”
Reader, I am not sure if you can tell, but I hold some minor reservations against Hillary Rodham Clinton… but words cannot describe how much Donald Trump revolts me. I fear Trump’s violent rhetoric has led to and will further lead to what Mitt Romney calls “trickle-down racism,” even more than I loathe the imperialist foreign policy Clinton enacted as Secretary of State. I fear the effects on global stability of giving Trump nuclear launch codes more so than if we were to give them to Clinton. I fear that I shall succumb to Clinton’s fear mongering before I succumb to Trump’s fear mongering because, somehow, it is easier to swallow.
I will remember that I am voting in a swing state, and no matter how tempted I am to vote for a third-party candidate, I know that will just help the least qualified major presidential candidate become the most powerful man in the world. Look, if this were a normal election and we had two run-of-the-mill presidential candidates from the two major parties, I would wholeheartedly support anyone’s decision to rebel against the two-party system— but how can anything be normal when you involve an idiotic orange humanoid?
In November, I will be voting for Secretary Clinton, and I hate myself for it. I believe that my vote for her acts as a condonation for everything that she has done in the past and everything that she will potentially do in the future to people of color. Secretary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to be commander-in-chief in recent history—her resume is filled with just as much blood and as many bodies of people of color as any American president in history. In one of the most American things imaginable, we have been given a choice between a proven racist warmonger and a potentially even worse racist warmonger.
They ask us to make a choice between a candidate whose policies have disproportionately affected people of color and one whose rhetoric against people of color entail the creation of a policy agenda that would be even worse. It is like being handed a gun and being asked whether you would like to shoot yourself in the foot or in the head. Either way, we are the ones forced to pull the trigger. If we do not, as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor Robert Reich would say, “reclaim our economy and democracy from the moneyed interests,” I will remember that this is the kind of choice we will have for many years to come. We all knew that the talk about solidarity and unity within the Democratic Party was really a one-way street for Clinton supporters. Yet, somehow, I feel compelled to play into the white game of politics because I cannot help but remember that the biggest threat to our country and global stability today, save climate change, is one step away from gaining the most powerful position known to humanity.
All rhetoric aside, Secretary Clinton has much more experience and the kind of insight that everyone should consider as qualifications for becoming President of the United States. Clinton may not be a saint, but at least she does not jeopardize decades of progress the way that Trump does. If you have had trouble coming to terms with what we have to do in November, like I have, do not think of it as voting for Clinton. Think of it as keeping Trump away from filling a Supreme Court vacancy and extending the 45 years of conservative rulings we have had prior to Justice Scalia’s death. Think of it as voting for a woman’s right to choose, public healthcare, and a higher minimum wage. Think of it as voting for someone who does not actively deny the existence of climate change.
Friends, I ask you to remember what Senator Sanders fought for and to fight for Secretary Clinton and Democrats up and down the ballot, lest we wish to maintain the economic and political systems that have helped produce two of the most hated presidential nominees in our country’s history. What Senator Sanders’ candidacy and overwhelming success amongst young and independent voters have proven is that a truly progressive Democratically Socialist agenda will be politically viable and popular in years to come (but let’s be honest here: Senator Sanders is a Social Democrat at best). Frankly, I do not think Senator Sanders would have been able to deliver on any of his promises if he were elected president this year; this country, especially its representative body, was not ready yet. But it will be.
Somehow, a 74-year-old self-described Socialist helped to shape a generation of liberals without taking money from SuperPACs or large corporations. Somehow, this honest man, who has found meaning in joining the protests of the average person since the 1960s, has maintained his integrity throughout the entirety of his 35-year political career. If I did not hold so many reservations about voting for Secretary Clinton, I doubt I would have voted for this idealistic man in the primaries, but hell, I am so glad I did. Somehow this old soul gave my young heart hope.
I will remember that, thanks in part to the influence Senator Sanders has carved out for himself and his supporters within the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee has now produced the most progressive platform this nation has ever seen. This platform includes commitments to making community college free, creating a substantially more progressive tax system, guaranteeing affordable healthcare for all, and expanding Medicaid. Senator Sanders’ campaign was never about himself; it was about building a political movement focused on pressing issues that affect the everyday American—issues that Secretary Clinton readily adopted into her rhetoric on the campaign trail and that are now part of her platform. It is now up to us to hold a Clinton administration accountable for those promises.
Bernie, thank you. My head is with her, but my heart is still with you.