On Accepting The Results – Or Not
(A guest post from long-time commenter B-Psycho.)
The end of the 2016 US presidential campaign (mercifully…) comes with the election on November 8th. Though I am registered to vote in it, this will be the 4th cycle in which I will intentionally not do so. Longtime readers of this site who’ve spotted some of my comments may be familiar with my reasons for that, but if not, I will summarize:
Philosophically, the premise of “representative government”, that it is possible for those other than yourself to honestly represent your interests, is a premise that I reject. To cast a vote for any person is to approve their claimed power over me and others falsely in our names, so I treat my non-vote as a literal Vote For Nobody – as in, that’s who I want having the power competed for, nobody. Practically speaking, on the issues I find most important at home (the carceral state & the political power of concentrated wealth) and globally (the massive military empire the US has built up and the state of constant war it maintains), even if I were to set aside my view of voting, the only candidates that have any chance of winning are in my view flagrantlyunacceptable. They see no real problem with those things, I completely oppose them, simple.
So with that in mind, why am I even posting about the election? I have my reasons. First of all, while I think very lowly of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as human beings, let alone as political figures, I do recognize a key difference among their fan bases. See, the deepest core of Donald Trump’s support is openly reactionary, even white supremacist and arguably proto-fascist. There have been multiple cases of Trump supporters acting out their views by assaulting people from the groups that they hate, and burying skeptics online in a deluge of racist/misogynistic/anti-Semitic filth and death threats.
Meanwhile, the worst thing I have seen a Hillary diehard do is call opposition to her from the Left “privileged”. Small potatoes in comparison, right?
Now, to those who are backing Hillary Clinton for president, regardless of your level of enthusiasm for that choice, I have a few things to say:
1) The type of ultra-right-wing sentiment that Donald Trump has taken advantage of and whipped up is not going to just go away quietly after their guy loses, no matter how big that loss is. Their rage at those not of their group will still be there. You have already seen them act on that rage. You have witnessed them call for intimidation and further violence. So, after the votes are counted, if (when, more like…) those elements take up brownshirt tactics and go threatening marginalized people, I’d like to know… where will you be?
2) I have seen lots of talk about the possibility of Donald Trump not accepting the results if he loses, due to the claims from him and his biggest supporters that it is rigged against him. I have also seen an argument from Democrats and various progressives against protest votes or abstention on the basis that Trump represents such a danger that it’s practically a moral duty to vote for Hillary anyway. The comparisons of Trump to reactionary a fascist rulers of the past have plenty of fuel, and mentions of his (open) enthusiasm for authoritarianism are just stating facts. However, say hypothetically he had somehow defied the polls showing him basically trailing the entire campaign and won the presidency: what reason would there be for someone opposed to this, who sees him as such a deep fundamental threat, to accept that result? It cannot be simultaneously true that someone is Basically That German Guy With The Funny Mustache and that nonetheless their victory should be accepted in the name of democracy and peaceful transition of power. Taking the stated threat at its word inherently implies that resistance above and beyond the bounds of mere political discourse would be justified. To say that such is not the case is to effectively say, in my opinion, that the state is always just and worthy of compliance no matter how terrible it gets.
Of course, having apparently constructed a political system that risks handing such immense power to such a horrible person, one might conclude that such power itself shouldn’t be allowed to exist… maybe. Perhaps.
(image credit: Steve Snodgrass, CC-BY 2.0)