In releasing its voter guidance last week, LA Progressive indicated that we were undecided on the presidential race and would announce our endorsement this week.
Events have intruded with the release of a tape of Donald Trump’s latest outrageous statements—where he brags about groping women—making any endorsement we might make anticlimactic.
Still, we want to tell you why we delayed: Basically, of the two of us, one of us stopped short of endorsing because he doesn't believe that any of the four candidates remaining in the race would make a good president. The other delayed her endorsement because she feels the nation is being forced to make a decision under duress, which translates to no real choice.
We thought we'd explain our thinking in a colloquy.
Dick: Donald Trump is a misogynist, a race-baiter, a divider, a fool, a buffoon, a bully, a national embarrassment. He should not be allowed to enter the White House even on visitor’s pass. Honest to god, his presidency would do lasting, grievous damage to America’s people and its reputation around the world. Hardest hit would be the “others” in our society—African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, women…well, the list goes on and on.
I would not vote for Donald Trump at gunpoint.
What about you, Sharon?
Sharon: I ditto everything you’re saying with the exception of the statement where you suggest that the “others” in our society are the African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, women. The use of the word “others,” when used this way, strengthens the notion that it is just the natural order of things that white men are the norm and that everyone else belongs to this nebulous “other” category.
Donald Trump is a misogynist, a race-baiter, a divider, a fool, a buffoon, a national embarrassment. He should not be allowed to enter the White House even on visitor's pass.
The term has been bantered around so much that it’s become a euphemism for everyone who is not English-speaking, white, male, and cisgendered. Aside from that, I agree with your statement except for one other minor claim—you say that you wouldn't vote for Donald at gunpoint. That’s where you and I depart—in a big way. For me, holding a gun to my head is the only way I’d vote for him.
Dick: Yes, I hear you. But Donald Trump does represent that old thinking that “white is right”—and really only white with money.
The fact that some 40% of American voters—two out of five people walking down the sidewalk with you—still stand by Donald Trump in all his folly says something serious about our country and its future. True, he faces an unpopular, uninspiring opponent, but an awful lot of our neighbors are willing to overlook the fact that Trump is morally, intellectually, and temperamentally unfit to be mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, much less our president—and that scares me. It seems that we're on the precipice of something really ugly whether Trump loses or not.
Sharon: It’s sad to say but I am not surprised by the popularity of Trump—and frankly, neither is anyone I know who is African American or Latino/a. Trump’s broad appeal to a particular sector of the population is indicative of a culture that values wealth and celebrity above intelligence, integrity, courage, truthfulness and all other honorable traits. Trump is the poster boy for white male privilege. He said it best when he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.” Clearly, he's right.
Third Party Candidates
Dick: If Bernie Sanders had broken out and run as a third party candidate, I bet you and I would be down at the nurses’ union headquarters in Glendale phone banking for him right now. We’d be wearing our “Feel the Bern” buttons and our “Bernie” t-shirts and there’d be a “Sanders For President” sign on our front lawn. He was the most inspiring presidential candidate I've seen in my many decades of following elections and he could have given the blowhard and the doubletalker a run for their money. He’d be filling stadiums from coast to coast. People—especially young people—would have been overflowing with hope for the Bernie Sanders-Tulsi Gabbard ticket.
But he didn't and as so many have admonished us, it’s time to pivot, turn the page, and move on. Right, Sugar?
Sharon: Yes, it is time to move on but not back to business as usual. The progressive movement has had a wake-up call. Bernie could have won if he’d courted the African American vote or if he’d gotten more Latinos to vote for him. Too many progressives seem to view “dog whistle politics” as a technique only used by the right. We need to get a better grip on the centrality of race as it relates to policy and elections.
Dick: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. Don't agree with that party’s principles, don’t think Johnson is qualified, don’t think he’s serious—at least about being president. He’s running to make a point, not win a race. Point taken. Not worth anymore keystrokes.
Dick:Jill Stein and the Green Party. She has some interesting ideas, but she’s never held elective office, has no real experience that would translate into making her an effective president, and, like Johnson, is running to make a point, not win an election.
Sharon: I wouldn’t say that either Stein or Johnson are simply running to make a point. I don’t know either of them and I certainly don’t know them well enough to get inside of their heads and parse out their motivations. I will say that what they are doing is a heck of a lot better than 99.9% of Americans. In my opinion, the American people have ended up with what they deserve. Inactivity, apathy, disengagement comes at a cost and we’re all paying now.
Dick:So Stein might be running to build the Green Party into a legitimate contender against sclerotic Republican and Democratic parties, but she’s currently polling at one percent (1%) in the latest nationwide Rasmussen poll. It’s not happening and it’s a waste of energy to pretend it is. As someone said, if we want to send a message, use Western Union.
Sorry, friends, I’d love to be part of building a legitimate third party, but there's better ways than this.
Sharon: It's worth noting that third-party candidates have an almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome just to have an opportunity to get some of the free airtime the major parties enjoy due to a built-in reinforcing disadvantage established by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Here is what the commission requires of the candidates before they allow them to participate in televised debates:
Candidates must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations
By the way, the Commission is a private, non-profit organization run by a small cadre of people (14 on the board). This organization, which is not affiliated with the government, has a huge impact on the outcome of our elections yet most of us know very little about it (click here to learn more).
A small portion of the electorate that is aware of the rules of this commission and is disillusioned with the two major political parties will be voting third-party to try to help them to get to 15%. I think they all know that third-parties don’t stand a chance. And, in many states, voting third-party could help the Trump campaign.
Dick:Basically, I don’t agree with many of her core policies and don’t think she'll make a good president. She’s already talked of having a “more muscular” foreign policy—as if more wars is just what America needs—and she’s thick as thieves with the Wall Street plutocrats who have run our economy into the ground for their gain and will do so again. She’s utterly uninspiring. Even now, with Election Day just weeks away, she can’t fill a high school auditorium with actual supporters who aren’t on the tab. How can she inspire the country if she can’'t even rouse the voting public?
Sharon: I do not now nor have I ever felt the same about Hillary Clinton as you. I believe she is smart, somewhat principled, and determined. My biggest beef with her is that her history suggests that she is willing to throw certain groups and certain principles under the bus if it means she’ll get closer to her objective. Unfortunately, I happen to belong to one of the groups that consistently gets thrown under the bus. I was always confused and a bit disappointed by the mass appeal both Clintons were able to garner from the African American community.
Dick: What she and her minions did to Bernie’s campaign still rankles, true, but it’s more than that. She's going to keep pushing the Democratic Party to the center, abandoning the younger generation that is clearly much more liberal than she and the elitists around her are willing to be. With the Republican Party imploding from the Tea Party takeover, the Democratic Party is might well implode from a genuine lack of enthusiasm for its policies and its candidates with her at the helm.
Sharon:It's time for a real progressive revolution. The neo-liberal policies that have dominated the Democratic Party are not serving the people.
Dick:Bottom line, Donald Trump really is an existential threat to American democracy. I endorse defeating Donald J. Trump at whatever cost, including holding my nose and voting for Hillary R. Clinton. So, wherever a vote for Clinton might make a difference—in Iowa, Kentucky, or Ohio, for example—that’s what I’d do.
But then it’ll be time to focus on the good progressive work being done here in California and in Los Angeles, while pressing the Democratic Party to learn from its current mistakes (yes, I know it won’t) and put forth a better presidential candidate in four years.
I’d love to be proven wrong about Hillary. After her coronation, we’ll get to see.
Sharon: The debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are making it easier for me to say with conviction, “I endorse Hillary Clinton.” So I'll say it—I endorse Hillary Clinton. But I will also say that we all have to work to change this system—a system that doesn't produce outcomes that reflect the will of the people. According to most experts, at no time in history have two candidates been so unpopular. We've got to do better.
Dick Price & Sharon Kyle
Editor & Publisher, LA Progressive