Thursday, October 06, 2016

Beware Third Choices



Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate. All presidential candidates are. I have argued in this space that, given who Donald Trump is, voting for a third party candidate is highly dangerous. I have pointed to the history of Weimar Germany as a cautionary tale. Gerry Caplan points to recent American history to make the same case:

The most infamous case in recent history was 16 years ago, when Ralph Nader argued that Al Gore was no worse than George W. Bush. Nader got a derisory 2.74 per cent of the vote, just enough to ensure Gore’s defeat. The world got Bush and Cheney, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and a great deal of the chaos and horror in the Middle East from which we all still suffer.

But the 2000 election isn't the only example of how voting for a third party candidate brought on disaster:

In modern times, this phenomenon goes back to 1956, when Adlai Stevenson challenged Republican president Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower’s bid for re-election. Ike was a natural small “c” conservative, while Stevenson was widely considered to be a principled liberal. But in the paranoid atmosphere of Cold War America, no seriously ambitious politician, let alone the urbane Stevenson, could take liberalism too far.

He was therefore easy enough to criticize by the wonderful Democratic socialists represented by the magazine Dissent, who explained how Stevenson would sell out the left if he ever won. I was easily persuaded, but America was not. Ike was overwhelmingly re-elected, and with him came Richard Nixon as his vice-president and an unleashed CIA to continue its dirty work around the world.
Another problem for the left came [twelve] years later, when Hubert Humphrey sought the Democratic nomination to replace president Lyndon B. Johnson. Humphrey was both the best and the worst of American liberalism. He was mostly strong on civil rights, trade unions and social welfare, but as LBJ’s vice-president during the Vietnam War he made himself a despicable apologist for the war.

When Bobby Kennedy was murdered, Humphrey won the nomination at the Democratic Convention. Many progressives boycotted the election. In the end, old Tricky Dick finally won the presidency by a hair, even though it’s possible the progressive vote could have defeated him. Next stop: the continuation of the Vietnam War, the secret war against Cambodia and Laos, the first-ever “gate” and the subversion of the American Constitution.

It was George Santayana -- not me -- who wrote that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. 

Image: theconservativetreehouse

16 comments:

Steve said...

Beware voting for Kabuki politians. Hillary is the leader of the creepy clowns. A very good example of why Trump will win.

Anonymous said...

I've always voted according to the maxim of another "third party" candidate - Socialist Eugene Debs. Debs quite rightly said, "I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want, and get it."

Anonymous said...

Did you watch the National on CBC last night? There was a segment on Neil McDonald interviewing poor Black Americans in Chicago, and also a very educated Black American Professor from Princeton. Just tell these people who are there on the front lines the dangers of not stopping Donald Trump. The Professor articulated very eloquently how so many years of voting for Dems, including the last 8 years under a Black President, had failed to bring about genuine improvements promised to the Black community. He also said that the Dems had taken the votes of Black Americans too much for granted. In fact his sentiment was reflected over and over by many poor Black Americans. Some of them actually said they were voting for Trump.

I suspect many of those who are warning about how important it is to vote for Hillary are failing to appreciate the enormity of the millstone around her neck. Or they are failing to understand how the Dems had failed to keep their promises over and over.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Wasn't the 2000 election when the US Supreme Court stopped the vote count in Florida and then selected George W. Bush as President?



The Mound of Sound said...

Caplan's argument might hold water if there was any prospect that Hillary Clinton might pry loose the claw of neoliberalism that has infected American democracy with both political and regulatory capture. I would still prefer that Hillary win but let's not pretend that the country's democracy hangs in the balance. It's been an oligarchy for many years, at least back to the start of Bush/Cheney, and there's no suggestion coming from any corner that Trump or Clinton could reverse that.

As one Brit told The Guardian, it's "a choice between a kick in the face and a kick in the crotch." Brace yourself.

Owen Gray said...

There is no cause to rejoice, Mound. If we're lucky, we may get to breathe a sigh of relief.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Pam. As Mound says, it's been an oligarchy since 2000.

Owen Gray said...

The Dems hands are far from clean, Anon. And the violence which accompanies the shooting of black people will continue to blossom unless -- and until -- someone keeps the promises that have been made to African Americans.

Owen Gray said...

And, unfortunately, Anon, Americans never got Debs.

Owen Gray said...

Time will tell, Steve.

Troy said...

Are people still blaming Nadar for Gore losing in 2000? I'd blame Gore's poor campaign skills, instead. Which is something I'm seeing with Hillary Clinton, too. She should be blowing Trump out of the water, much like Gore should have dismantled own opponents apart with ease, but something's holding back her numbers.
It seems like a conscious choice to keep the youth vote down. Gore didn't work to get the youth vote, but Clinton seems determined to undermine it, entirely. This one could very well come down to the last vote.

Owen Gray said...

You may be right, Troy. Things could be very close.

Anonymous said...

"I have pointed to the history of Wiemar Germany as a cautionary tale"

Are you talking about Hitler? As in Trump is Hitler nonsense? Hitler put an end to the Wiemar Republic (1991-1933.)

I wouldn't consider a candidate who has taken over $100-million in bribes "flawed." I would consider them a criminal and enemy of democracy. Are all politicians criminals? They soon will be unless people with courage and convictions stand up to this flagrant corruption and take responsibility for their societies.

John B. said...

I'm wondering where the Trump supporter in the article linked by Steve was when Ralph Nader was looking for her?

Owen Gray said...

Good question, John.

Owen Gray said...

I was referring to Hitler's election, Anon. He was elected because the left splintered. Mussolini was also elected. In a democracy, we always get the government we deserve.