Saturday, October 1, 2016

Is 'strategic voting' for Clinton actually strategic?

Electoral map as of Sept.29th via The Economist
Is strategic voting for Hillary Clinton actually strategic?

I have written before about why I feel that leftists should "not buy into mainstream narratives about voting" and should reject "lesser of evil" narratives in all cases. (And this article did also, in part, touch on the question above).

But, as the election in the United States nears, more-and-more commentators and activists faced by the possibility of a Trump presidency are calling, yet again, for voting for a Democrat, Hillary Clinton, "strategically" in order to allegedly stop him. This includes commentators that I greatly respect like Shaun King, who has penned what is perhaps the best article calling for voting to stop Trump I have read to date, even though he is a columnist for a New York newspaper in a state where doing so is totally unnecessary, a point to which I will return.

If you are a person who actually thinks Clinton winning would be a good thing for the world and the United States, or if you are delusional enough to believe that, somehow, this time electing an avowed neo-liberal and imperialist Democrat to the highest office in the land will bring a better result than all the other times, then you really need read no further.

The dismal, reactionary and violent records of the Democrats, Obama and Clinton are there for all to see and we have looked at them in articles on this blog like There is no socialist case for supporting Hillary ClintonAn American Horror Story -- Clinton vs Trump and Obama, Trudeau & Clinton -- Feeling good about the lies of liberalism. Those who try to claim she will be a force fighting for human rights and women's rights internationally might want to read Michael Howard's Whitewashing Hillary: When Lena Dunham and Her Celebrity Ilk Become Dangerous which very effectively demolishes any such inane assertions.

But if you are a leftist or radical who knows that Clinton is terrible but feel that there are, ultimately, 'only two choices' for President and that Trump must be defeated -- even setting aside for the moment whether this is the correct approach morally -- you need to examine whether this is the best approach tactically from a left-wing POV instead of advocating voting for Stein, Gloria La Riva, or others, for building a new party or for simply not voting at all and conscientiously rejecting the whole sham.

For, if you are advocating a 'strategic vote' for Clinton across-the-board without reservation as to where the voter lives, it means that you are advocating for voting for her when in most cases it will make no difference at all.

Having been bombarded by decades of liberal and Democratic Party propaganda to the contrary -- as well as the falsehood that Nader's voters were responsible for George Bush getting elected in 2000 -- it is hard for many to wrap their minds around this as it is assumed that the choice really is Clinton vs. Trump everywhere. But the US President is not directly elected by the popular vote, they are elected by how people vote on a state-by-state basis.

This makes a very, very large difference to where and when 'strategic' 'lesser-of-evil' voting for Clinton actually matters at all and whether the arguments of its advocates make any sense at all.

According to the latest polls and the electoral map put together by The Economist for example, there are only 12 states that are seriously "in play" and a closer examination shows that some of these are more "in play" than others. Meanwhile, the polling website FiveThirtyEight has fewer states being "in play".

But, let us be conservative and go with former breakdown. That means that while in 12 states voting for Clinton and against Trump might actually matter, in 38 states it will not.

This includes New York, home of the Daily News that Shaun King writes for, for example, which both websites list as basically certain to vote for and deliver its 29 electoral college votes to Clinton. According to the FiveThirtyEight her chances of winning New York are 99.2%. She is 99.6% likely to carry the biggest prize of all, California.

On the flip-side, Trump is basically certain to win states like Texas and Oklahoma.

In none of these states, or any of the others currently not seriously in play, does the 'strategic voting' position hold up at all. In these states, to be clear, advocating voting for Hillary Clinton is simply that, advocating voting for Hillary Clinton. It will have no impact on the presidential race's outcome and simply means voting for a candidate you apparently don't really support or believe in.

To date I have yet to hear a coherent argument as to the efficacy of getting behind the Democratic candidate or a reactionary imperialist like Clinton to "stop Trump" in states like these where voting for her will do nothing to accomplish this!

Even if you sincerely believe that Trump is an existential threat, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that you cannot call for 'strategic voting' in the handful of states where it will matter while calling for rejecting both candidates and their politics in the 38 plus states where it won't.

I think we need to stop pretending. When activists and commentators make blanket calls to vote for politicians like Clinton as the 'lesser-of-evils' even when such votes will not have an impact on the outcome, they enable and empower a narrative that has directly inhibited and prevented the emergence of a left-wing alternative to the Democrats.

They play into the false dichotomy the Democrats depend on to browbeat and terrify people into voting for their terrible candidates election cycle after election cycle.

This helps with nothing other than maintaining the status quo.

See also: Rejecting the lesser evil -- Why you should not buy into mainstream narratives about voting

See also: Obama, Trudeau & Clinton -- Feeling good about the lies of liberalism

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