I’ve been opposed to the seeming inevitability of Hillary Clinton since forever, making the case for why Latinos shouldn’t vote for the Democratic presidential nominee and how her policies past and present aren’t much different than the proposals put forth by her bombastic billionaire opponent, Donald Trump. Still, I’ve yet to see a video that clearly and concisely sums up the moral and political rationale for voting against both candidates in favor of a third-party candidate — until Professor Cornel West’s recent appearance on Democracy Now:
“I’ve never been tied to one party or one candidate or even one institution. And that’s true even with one church as a Christian. I’m committed to truth and justice. And Brother Bernie, no doubt, was the standard-bearer for truth and justice during the primary at a national level, at a highly visible level. … [But] Hillary Clinton … is a neoliberal disaster.
“A neoliberal disaster is one who generates a mass incarceration regime, who deregulates banks and markets, who promotes chaos of regime change in Libya, supports military coups in Honduras, undermines some of the magnificent efforts in Haiti of working people, and so forth. That’s the record of Hillary Clinton. … When my dear brother, who I love very deeply, Bernie Sanders said she will make an outstanding president, I said, ‘Oh, I disagree with my brother. … I don’t think she’ll make an outstanding president at all.’ She’s a militarist. She’s a hawk. She could take us into war with Russia. She could take us into war with Iran. So, I mean, I think she’s dangerous in terms of her neoliberal ideology—not as a woman, because I’m supporting, of course, my dear sister Jill Stein.
“I think after a magnificent campaign of Bernie Sanders, the next step is a green step. The next step is a progressive step. And when you’re calling for reparations, you’re calling for the release of prisoners who have been historically unfairly treated, especially tied to nonviolent crimes, and then saying they should vote and that vote should never be taken away, when you’re putting people and planet and peace before profits, Sister Jill Stein, for me, is somebody that’s worth fighting for. And she’s not a spoiler. You know, a lot of people use that term ‘spoiler.’ If Hillary Clinton can’t make the case to progressives, she doesn’t deserve our vote.”
I can already hear some readers now: But what about Trump? The professor answered that too:
“Trump is a neofascist in the making. There’s no doubt about that. … But the thing that you can’t just be a non-Trump and deserve one’s vote. If Hillary Clinton wants the vote of progressives, she better be real about it. But I don’t think she has the capacity to be real about it. She’s so tied to Wall Street. She’s so tied to the corporate elite.”
Professor even echoes what I’ve been saying about how much of what Trump says he’ll do is what Hillary either has endorsed or implemented herself:
“When you actually look at the reinforcement of the new Jim Crow and the segregation of our educational systems and so forth, that occurred under Democrats. It would persist under Hillary Clinton. What Donald Trump talks about in the abstract has actually been concretely enacted under neoliberal regimes of the Democratic Party.”
So, what? Are we supposed to vote for a third-party candidate, even though they’d have no chance of winning the general election anyway? Response:
“[I] had to break with the two-party system. The duopoly has to come to an end. …
“This idea that somehow we’ve got to opt for a neoliberal disaster as the only option vis-à-vis the neofascist catastrophe, as a blues man, I appreciate you playing that blues. I can deal with catastrophe, not by panicking and being driven by fear, but I can look the catastrophe in the face and still tell the truth and still go down swinging with a smile and, most importantly, love.”
As for whom progressive should vote for this fall, Professor West and I have a suggestion — the Green Party candidate, and the only true progressive running for president at a nationwide level, Dr. Jill Stein:
“In the language of Coltrane, she’s a major force for good, accenting the role of poor and working people being center stage. She’s green in terms of trying to save the planet in the face of corporate greed. She’s fundamentally concerned with issues of racial justice, legacies of white supremacy as well as male supremacy. She’s concerned about empowering working people. She opposes TPP, trying to make sure we don’t have the corporate reshaping of the world economy—the kind of policies, of course, [the] Democratic Party has supported, President Obama has supported.”
Compare Professor West’s lucid and conscientious explanation for why he’ll be voting for Jill Stein in November to a press release published by the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, which, despite everything he’s said about Latino immigrants, has endorsed Trump:
“We are not enamored with Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and personality. But at least we know that Donald Trump won’t divide the country and fuel the flames of racial confrontation by accusing the police and the entire criminal justice system of being racist. We also know that Trump can better address the terrorist threat we face because, contrary to Clinton, he is willing to acknowledge and address its root cause: radical Islamic fundamentalism. And we also know that Trump will reverse the current over-regulation and excessive taxation of business which stifles economic growth and prevents the creation of well paid jobs” (emphasis mine).
Who to believe? A radical black philosopher who throughout his career has consistently stood on the side of working-class people of color, or a troop of pro-Wall Street Latino assimilationists who’d sell their people for a two-car garage and stock options — and who also believe that the only person who can bring the nation together during this time of inflamed racial strife is the same man who labeled Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and drug dealers?