Voters in the Democratic Party have spoken. Once again, Democrats voted to maintain their party’s stance as a pro-war champion of multinational corporations. This shouldn’t be a surprise, since this is what they have represented for the past 50 years, but this was the first election in recent memory where the party came close to electing someone who considers all human life an important thing worth protecting. Alas, it didn’t work out that way. The voters chose as strong a supporter of the military-industrial complex and multinational corporations as was available in any party: Hillary Clinton.
She is someone who didn’t support gay marriage until 2013, when she was laying groundwork for a Presidential run. She admires Henry Kissinger and his disastrous foreign policy approach, one that is rooted in a fundamental lack of respect for human dignity. She has written off large swaths of the population when it suits her, whether referring to black youth as “super-predators”, or laughing about bombing Libya: “we came, we saw, he died“. (After Qaddafi was beaten and sodomized with a bayonet.) Clinton eagerly supported military action in Libya, even after the failure of a very similar game plan in Iraq, so in addition to her apparent disregard for human beings living anywhere she feels there are “strategic interests”, she displays an inability to learn from history. That is a dangerous quality in a leader.
The Republicans, for their part, voted for a candidate who calls for less war, and more diplomacy. Yes, despite his bombastic rhetoric, Donald Trump actually argues against destabilizing governments and regime change through war. He argues the U.S. should pursue a policy of stability in the Middle East. This is commendable. But out of the other side of his mouth, he advocates killing terrorists’ families (i.e., genocide). Along the way in his campaign, he’s pined for the “good-old days” when disruptors were carried out on stretchers, has labeled Mexicans as rapists, and has said that he advocates barring Muslims from entering the United States. He also argues strongly that the USA’s foreign policy should be “America first” all the time, which is not the language of someone who respects other cultures. To put it more bluntly, these opinions appear to be fueled in part by bigotry.
So in the two major parties, what we have are two candidates who openly show they do not believe that all human lives are worth the same amount. The most basic precept in the idea of human rights is rejected by both of them. Hillary believes any human life in the way of her “strategic interests” is worth eliminating or marginalizing, and Donald has displayed the attitude that there should be one set of rules for the (white?) majority, and different rules for any other group (Mexicans, Muslims, journalists) that he deems problematic. Both of these candidates’ ideals are borne of privilege; they consider themselves and their group above that of anyone else who gets in their way.
If one fundamentally agrees (as I do) that a human life is a human life is a human life, then it becomes impossible to vote for either of these depraved power-seekers while at the same time maintaining a healthy conscience.
Luckily, that is not a choice one has to make, because there are two other candidates on almost all state ballots who do not display the same contempt for humanity. Both candidates argue for less war, and for an America that operates as a good citizen in the world, pursuing its own national interest in a way that is minimally disruptive to (or even supportive of) people living elsewhere. Those candidates are Jill Stein and Gary Johnson.
Dr. Jill Stein is a physician and activist who has been the Green Party candidate for President, and for Governor of Massachusetts. She has advocated for campaign finance reform, and environmental issues. Her foray into “third party” politics began when Massachusetts Democrats repealed the Clean Election Law, after a childish and protracted battle against it, even though Massachusetts voters were overwhelmingly (2 to 1) in favor. Lately, she has attempted to offer herself as a “Plan B” option for Bernie Sanders voters, and indeed she supports many positions similar to Sanders’, including his compassionate foreign policy agenda.
On the topic of foreign policy, she has said “We need a foreign policy based on international law, human rights, and diplomacy, instead of militarism.” This sounds like a United States that works with the rest of the world to develop consensus, rather than dictating terms at the end of the gun barrel. In that statement is an implicit understanding that people are people, that Americans are no more or less “worthy” than anyone else. This, again, is the essence of human rights.
Gary Johnson served two terms as Governor of New Mexico, and is once again running as the Libertarian Party candidate. In 2012, the Libertarians garnered more than a million votes, which stands as a record for the party. As governor, Johnson vetoed a lot of legislation that crossed his desk, supporting his idea that “Although I do not believe that government is ill-intentioned, I strongly believe in less government.”
Johnson approaches foreign policy from the point of view of non-interventionism, without being isolationist. He has described himself as a “skeptic” in this sphere, meaning that he would weigh actions against possible unintended consequences. For a practical application of what this means, consider his views on dealing with North Korea: “we need to ally with China” to persuade China “through diplomacy to deal with what is a regional crisis.” Similarly to Dr. Stein, this is someone openly discussing working with a potential rival, rather than castigating them, or advocating unilateral military action. He has said he supports military action when attacked, but that otherwise it should be well measured, and in all cases the Congress should formally declare war.
How To Support Third Parties
For those who value human rights and international peace, generally speaking, they may want to support one of these candidates. Furthermore, in a year where both big party candidates are deeply disliked, it may be a more opportune time than ever to register disgust with the two major parties. The most obvious ways are to advocate for them, give them money, and vote for them. If any party receives even 5% of the vote, they are eligible for federal matching funds in 2020. That means neither of these parties need to come anywhere close to winning to have a game-changing future.
Still, even among those dissatisfied with the major party choices, there are some who feel that Clinton’s fervor with respect to destabilizing foreign governments is too big a problem for national and international security, and therefore they want to vote for Trump. And on the other side, there are those who worry that Trump himself, even though he doesn’t yet have an actual body count (like Clinton), is nevertheless scary because his rhetoric seems to shift on a daily or weekly basis, and judging by his comments, he is relatively hostile to nonwhites. So those voters want to vote for a known quantity who they feel will maintain the status quo.
In this case, if one feels that they can’t give the Greens or Libertarians their vote, how about giving them some money instead? Consider that the Democrats and Republicans are filthy stinking rich. They already represent the will of huge multinational corporations and billionaires. They already have operatives and SuperPACs with millions at their disposal working on their behalf. Your money is a pittance to them.
Donations to the Greens or Libertarians could make a difference. It would allow them to raise their profiles in this election and beyond, paving the way for future acceptance of political views that take a more inclusive stance in terms of how the United States projects its power worldwide. It may allow those parties to field more candidates at lower levels throughout the country, thereby introducing more points of view to the political process at all levels. It may even cause the two major parties to take note of their ideas, and court lost voters by moderating their policy positions. In effect, a strong Green party is a conscience-check on the Democrats (and the Libertarians in some respects serve the same role to the Republicans).
Failing that, simply telling people that these options exist is enough to trigger debate on some of their ideas, and debate is crucial to a democratic society. Debate of those ideas can also be had in respect to the major party conventions and their platforms. That is why I mention them here. A candidate need not win an election to have a lasting impact on public policy, and with the two major parties standing for war and bigotry on behalf of corporate overlords, 2016 may be a better time than ever to register one’s dissatisfaction.