Up The Creek Without A Paddle

A lot of my input lately has been news on Twitter. News which is dominated in a presidential election year with almost nothing other than said election. This means I’ve been getting a lot of Trump shoved in my face, and it’s pretty damn depressing and disgusting. It’s also terrifying.

When he first threw his hat into the ring, everyone laughed… apparently even he didn’t take it seriously. Then the bigots and the rich assholes started coming out of the woodwork to vote for him. If it weren’t for the fact that this farce is potentially going to affect the long-term health and international respect of my country, I would probably have laughed too. It seemed that everyone was laughing at him, except then it became clear that they were laughing with him and didn’t realize it.

Now, suddenly, everyone who isn’t a Trump supporter has realized that he is a threat. He’s the presumptive nominee for the Republican party, they’re doubling down on him after swearing left and right that they’d find someone — anyone — else to be the nominee, and dreams of a contested convention and him running a third-party campaign that spoils the Republican vote have gone up in smoke. So now it’s down to hoping that we can convince the swing voters to select the lesser of two evils, as Hillary taking the Democratic nomination looms on the horizon.

I can’t say I particularly like Hilary. She’s done a lot of stupid, she’s more hawkish than I like, she’s probably a little racist — though nowhere near as bad as Trump — but at the end of the day she still at least makes an effort to change with the expressed desires of the people, she’s worked her ass off to get as far as she has in yet another area of society that’s still overwhelmingly male dominated, and she’s really not all that different from the others in the Democratic party. There in lies my biggest problem with her: I’m liberal and don’t identify with the Democratic party. I believe in social services for the masses, I believe in paying taxes to cover it, and I believe in unions. I don’t feel the Democrats fight for these things like they should, I feel that they take the lazy route of leaving it to others to fight for… But the problem is, no one’s able to come take up the fight when the party is full of corporate backed centralists.

Even knowing the chances are slim, I would still like to see Bernie pull the nomination out from under her with a last-minute upset. It’s looking more and more like the option is going to be vote for her in November, or stand by and pray to whatever deity might listen not to let this country elect Trump. I am seeing more and more a reality where I don’t have a choice but to vote for her. But what’s scary is that there is a vocal sort of shit lord out there that is threatening to just rage quit and not vote in the general if she gets the dem nom. The sexist sort of shit lord who’s twice as hard on Hillary than they are on any man, who would rather burn this country to the ground that see a woman as the commander-in-chief. While I’m not enthusiastic about Hillary, and I’m not terrified of what she’d do to this country.

The other thing that’s scary about Hillary probably getting the nomination is that all those people who were enthusiastic for Bernie, those first time voters, those people who otherwise don’t care about the election, they’re also the same people we need voting for key positions everywhere from city dog catcher to Senator. We see it repeatedly, if we elect a progressive president the masses think everything is magically perfect, that things will change over night. Then when they don’t, these same people don’t bother to go vote in the midterm elections and they don’t bother to go back and vote in the next presidential election. Then where are we? Right back where we started.

We need to see a lot of change in how our elections are run, we need to see a lot of change in how the population is engaged about them, and we need to find a way to actually make it possible to hold politicians accountable when they don’t do what they promised. Right now we have a two-party system where people vote for the lesser of evils because first past the post voting means if they don’t the candidate least in common with their goals can win instead. This makes it hard to replace anyone, because it’s really difficult to convince people to stray from the familiar and the safe. We need to make it possible for the average person to feel safe in considering the third-party candidates. We need to make sure that every qualified and able person can vote.

I stumbled into a conversation with one of my bosses the other day, and he was railing on and on about how we needed to start using a mandatory voting system… and while I didn’t say it (I probably should have), all I could think is, we can’t even make it so that the people who want to vote can reliably do so, how the hell would we be able to set up a system that requires everyone qualified to do so must vote? I can just see how this would be abused: institute the mandatory voting laws, do nothing to change how existing polling systems work, then proceed to slam all the low-income people who couldn’t afford to skip work or wait in line for the whole day with the fines for not voting. But then, he’s a well off white man, so these things might not even occur to him. He’s comfortable enough that he takes yearly week-long vacations out of the country, when his employees only get paid sick leave because the state of California recently started mandating it and the only vacation time we get is unpaid. He’s well off enough that his house being broken into and his stuff stolen multiple times is an inconvenience that requires a security system being installed… where if anyone was desperate enough to steal my stuff, I would probably not be able to afford to replace it. I know he thinks of himself as a liberal, but he’s about as liberal as the standing Democratic party. Which is to say, hardly in anything but title.