Against Evil

This is not an endorsement. I have no interest in telling people how to vote. But I do want to put my two cents into the mix.

I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton. I am casting a ballot with her name on it, but I’m not casting it for her.

That makes no sense, you say. Perhaps, but bear me out.

I’m not voting for Clinton. I’m voting against Donald Trump.

I’m voting against his appeals to racism, his misogyny, his know-nothing immigrant bashing. I’m voting against his normalization of hate and his anti-intellectualism. I’m voting against his strongman appeals, his proto-fascist language, his hyper masculinity.

And I’m casting a Clinton ballot because, sadly, she’s the only person with a legitimate chance to keep Trump out of the White House.

What about Jill Stein, you say? What about Gary Johnson?

I respect Stein — at least to a degree. And I appreciate Johnson’s position on drug legalization.

But the reality is this: our political system has been designed to turn third-party candidates into spoilers. It’s first past the post, as the saying goes, and there is just no way that Stein or Johnson will get enough support in enough states to win enough electoral votes to win the White House. It takes 270 electoral votes to win, regardless of how many candidates get votes. If no candidate gets to 270, the election goes to the House of Representatives — a Republican House.

In a normal year, it might be worth taking a chance on a third-party vote. After all, the damage that might be done by a Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush presidency might be manageable — though, the Iraq War should stand as a reminder that elections have consequences.

Yes, Hillary Clinton voted for that war. She is a hawk. We know she’s a hawk, and the fact that she’s surrounding herself with like-minded hawks should be of great concern. She’s also a corporatist and, while I think concerns about her honesty are overblown, she does not inspire confidence.

In a normal election year, that might have been enough to sink her candidacy. This, however, is not a normal year. Donald Trump is not a normal candidate, and the consequences of a Trump win are too great — something Trump has made all too clear.

It’s not that he’s erratic, or that the foreign policy establishment, including numerous longtime Republican advisors, has fled to the Clinton camp. In a normal year, that alignment might even recommend Clinton’s opponent.

It’s the language he’s using to stoke the fires of hate and resentment. Trump, as Matthew Sheffield pointed out in The Washington Post, draws “on a now-obscure political strategy called ‘paleolibertarianism,’ which he describes as a mix of small-government isolationism, states’ rights rhetoric, racism, anti-Semitism, and a return to an older conception of America.

Trump is promising to “Make America Great Again,” with the emphasis on “again.” The implication is that some force or set of forces have conspired to undermine its greatness. And Trump has identified those forces: illegal immigration, Radical Islam and an undefined set of “special interests.” The result, he says, is crime, low wages and lost jobs. Trump’s appeal is to white men, though he has made nods toward African-Americans (whom he calls “the blacks”), Latinos (“the Hispanics”), and other minority groups.

He’s mixed this politics of resentment and blame with overt appeals to violence, and the argument that he, and he alone, can fix it. He and he alone can make America win again. The echoes of Mussolini’s pledge to make the trains run on time are unmistakable.

And if he loses in November? Well, the system, in his view, will have been rigged. It’s the only possibility - an argument designed to delegitimize Clinton the same way he accused Barack Obama of not being legitimate. This time, however, he’s stirred up the pot, accusing the Clinton campaign of stealing the election well before the first votes were cast.

These are the actions, the words of a political strongman, a proto-fascist, a man who has little respect for the constitution.

I know I haven’t made the case for Clinton. That wasn’t my goal. Clinton, in this election, is a means to an end, a defensive vote. If she wins, we then step up the protests, the activism. We do what we failed to do, for the most part, over the last seven-plus years — hold her feet to the fire.

Hank Kalet is a poet and journalist in New Jersey. Email,; blog,; Twitter @newspoet41 and @ kaletjournalism; Instagram, kaletwrites; Facebook,

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2016

Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2016 The Progressive Populist

PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652