Pragmatism v Ideology: Why Hillary Clinton is the Only Choice


On the Green party, pragmatism versus ideology, and choosing to vote for Hillary Clinton.

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When I I moved to California in 2009, I joined the Green Party. I was sour at the Democrats’ losing streak on civil rights issues, even as we elected Barack Obama president. I can’t deny I bought into the “black Democrats are responsible for Prop 8”. It was racism-disguised-as-anti-homophobia. People like Dan Savage peddled it to young, impressionable (see also: racist) white progressives like me. I was taught by radical, compassionate, patient women of color, and I’m proud of that. These women helped me interrogate those political origins—but I’m not proud of where I came from, in that sense.

Nor am I proud to vote for the Democrat candidate every year, despite my radical politics. It’s like leaving your cellphone at a restaurant you just had a very public meltdown in. I hate you, your food was undercooked and your bathroom was filthy. Please don’t look at my pictures. I assure you, the dog collar is very, very consensual.

A Hillary Clinton presidency is a win for feminism insofar as the Suffragette movement was a win for feminism. Restoring some women’s political status, but at the cost of scapegoating of non-white men. (Not to mention pushing the contributions of women of color to the back.) Clinton’s candidacy is bringing out the absolute worst in White Feminism. That includes celebrating her contributions to killing non-whites abroad. There’s accusing women who don’t support her as being brainwashed by their sexuality. Not to mention those embarrassing memes that are also demonstrably untrue. The “Mother of LGBT” was publicly against same-sex marriage until 2013. When this presidency is over, we all need to take a knee and ask if we’re being our best selves.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By “we” I mean people who supported and voted for Hillary, which will likely include me. I believe in (most of) the Green platform, and want my party to succeed. And I feel the best way to support and promote those values in our country is to make sure Donald Trump, an incompetent media stuntman stacking his deck with fascists and white supremacists, doesn’t win.

I’m so exhausted of this insular political purity culture we’ve created. We all have to pretend a Donald Trump presidency could never happen. So we must debate the merit of all other candidates and “vote our conscience”. Sucks to that. Vote the option that does the least harm to women of color, immigrants, refugees, undocumented residents, disabled folk, LGBT people, and other marginalized people.

When you treat the safety of others as acceptable collateral for your principles, you aggrandize power structures instead of challenging them.

When you treat the safety of others as acceptable collateral for your principles, you aggrandize power structures instead of challenging them.

Voting for the Green Party this election cycle is throwing your vote away because they don’t even want to win. We have 135 elected officials in the US—out of around 519, 682. Greens trot out our smug finery every four years to siphon votes off the Democratic Party. We should coalition-build with Dems, building solid political blocs or doing outreach to win over Republicans who are sympathetic to environmentalism and staying out of foreign conflicts. When we wait until after it’s gotten to the point where the American people choose between shooting themselves in the foot or right in the kneecap, it’s not effective.

Jill Stein had a chance to show solidarity with another woman. But instead her whole campaign is how she’s the better woman to lead our nation. She isn’t.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Jill Stein also harbors reprehensible views. She believes autistic children are a “calamity”. She’s sympathetic to the anti-vaccine movement. Her party’s platform includes criminalizing sex work across the board, in turn criminalizing the existence of marginalized people like trans women, WoC, queer and undocumented women who rely on this work to support themselves in a capitalist society that affords them little alternative.

Also, trans women get visible airtime in both the Democratic and Republican parties. But the Green Party has quite a few outspoken TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) within its ranks. As TERFs are wont to, they dox and harass anyone who name-drops them. I’ve already had to move once, and I’m refraining from naming names. But Google, Twitter, and Facebook searches yield some good results.

For all we white progressives tell people of color and queer people to remain calm and wait their turn and work the system, we could stand to chill out a bit during presidential elections and learn about our local transit districts and school boards.

Jill Stein’s wavering on acknowledging the discrimination trans women get when trying to use the restroom smacks of someone doing her best not to alienate the reactionaries within her own movement. Hillary’s been doing that in regards to right-leaning Democrats and same-sex marriage for literally decades now.

Jill Stein represents a seemingly “softer” sort of feminism. But her methods of promoting that feminism—female competition, vilifying marginalized people, catering to anti-science politics—is indistinguishable from the right wing. We should be a united front against this.

The Green Party is imperfect, oppressive, and bound to lose. We simply lack the political infrastructure. And it’s debatable whether the coverage we get from this election cycle will translate in more memberships and turnout for local elections.

Where are we in the communities that are hurting? Or at the rallies against police brutality? Where are we when Muslims are harassed on the street? Or thrown off airplanes for making uncomfortable the prejudiced masses you intend to represent?  Why do we think we deserve to win the presidency? Because we have good ideas? Plenty of disenfranchised people in this country with good ideas remain dis-empowered. All because those with the resources keep holding out for a Superman.

Right now the Green Party is holding a $20 eggplant just out of a starving person’s reach and shouting “See? You have other options than eating processed food!” We are the party of cool college professors and “moon goddess” feminists.


We white progressives tell people of color and queer people to remain calm and wait their turn and work the system. But we could stand to chill out a bit during presidential elections and learn about our local transit districts and school boards.

This is why I’m not voting for Jill Stein, though I intend to remain a Green. My initial motivations for joining the party were malevolently misguided. But in the wake of the party’s failures to actively address police violence, drone warfare, deportations, and economic sustainability, the Democratic Party alone can’t address issues of social and environmental justice. Neither can the Green Party. Especially if we keep telling ourselves we can somehow get a Green President before we get a Green Senator or Green State Governor.

No party can meaningfully address racial violence and injustice in this country. Not while the machinations of said parties are controlled by white people. Something to consider as we keep telling PoC they just need to buck up on this election because it’s an emergency. (Afterwards we will totally start to look into the issues that matter to them, sure!)

If we really want to avoid a Donald Trump presidency, and the fascist conservative politics that would come with that, which would totally “wreck our steez” in terms of our ability to make a meaningful Green politic in this country, then

Let’s not kid ourselves; our votes are not precious. You know whose votes are precious? Black citizens constantly victimized by voter suppression. Disabled voters who aren’t able to cast the vote because it isn’t accessible. Undocumented citizens have no say. That’s despite contributing to our economy and being affected by our policies. Marginalized people have their votes annulled by a racist, misogynist legal system. Those votes are precious because those are the people most vulnerable to the “acceptable collateral” of our politics. They are phantom constituents, but people who make up the real-life casualties of our glib political theorizing.

If you’ve always been able to vote, and you’re willing to throw it away on Jill Stein or Gary Johnson “to prove a point”, all you’ve proven is that your vote isn’t that precious after all.

I have to vote for Hillary Clinton, a politician who at various points in her career stood against just about everything I stand for, because as a queer woman, and someone who values her solidarity with radical women of color, I can’t afford a Trump presidency. An expendable vote is a luxury.

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I’m not proud to be “with her”, but at the rate the Greens and other leftists are behaving, I’m not necessarily proud to not be “with her”, either.

It’s my party and I’ll engage in realpolitik if I want to.