Alex Hanson

Yesterday it was reported President Obama has begun closed-doors discussions with political donors, suggesting that it’s time to acknowledge the severe mathematical improbability of Senator Bernie Sanders securing the Democratic nomination for President. This is upsetting to many of the Senator’s supporters (who will make the trek north of the Columbia when he visits Vancouver this coming Sunday), and turns the heat up on a simmering (verging on a rolling boil) argument that suggests Sanders’ supporters simply not vote in the general election should Trump vs. Clinton be the contest.

I definitely understand the frustration of feeling forced into a political situation where neither option represents much (if any) of your personal values. However I've found as I've gotten older that much of that frustration was borne of my own naiveté and inaction. When I only show up once every four years, to vote just the once, in the one election—primarily fueled by misguided hopes that my choice can kickstart some sort of trickle-down political revolution—I'm guaranteed disappointment, because my inaction every midterm is partially why I'm forced to make the value compromises I now have to make. I have (and waste) multiple opportunities to vote for candidates that represent my values on a city/district/state level, every year. If I don't do my part to stock the pool with viable candidates who think like I do and want the same things I want, why would I think that 10 to 20 years down the line the situation is going to be any more favorable?

When generations of voters only perk up during a Presidential election, and treat said elections as they do any other competitive reality show they've watched over the past 20-plus years, it shouldn't be a surprise when a reality show veteran, playing by reality-show rules, leverages that reality-show appeal towards political success.

This is more than a little stomach-churning, and might lead one to disengage entirely. Completely understandable. But this is essentially what the choice between voting/not voting boils down to:

People who vote for Clinton even though they don't really like her at all are deciding to settle for enduring negative side-effects of generally progressive politics that maintain the Democratic status-quo and put a majority of left-leaning voices on the Supreme Court bench. Said side-effects include:

*Potential softness regarding anti-corporate legislation
*Enabling financial exploitation on the part of big business
*A foreign policy stance that holds aggressive tendencies.

Keep in mind: the Democratic status-quo being maintained in this example is defined by slow (often frustratingly slow and occasionally misguided) progress towards social and financial equality despite unprecedented Republican obstructionism.

People who don't vote at all, or go so far as to—out of spite—vote for Trump even though they really don't like him at all are deciding to settle for enduring negative side-effects to the country getting in better financial shape. Said side-effects include:

*Increased intolerance of brown people, queer people, and women, both at home and abroad.
*Guaranteed military offensives in the Middle-East.
*Immediate decline in foreign relations with nearly every world power
*A fucking cold war with Mexico (!?!)

Couple that with the fact that his major positive—his history in business—isn't even necessarily a positive, as most of his business practices haven't been all that successful. Historically, Trump is an amazing self-promoter in the face of otherwise mediocre-at-best decision-making.

How can anyone who presents themselves as being even somewhat progressive on a social level look at that list of side-effects, weigh them accurately in each hand, and with a clear conscience decide that the latter is the proper call? It's a pretty basic question of slow continued progress vs. a very rapid regression.

Are you willing to purchase that much backward motion with your dissatisfaction slowly spoiling into spitefulness? Or are you willing to harness that dissatisfaction and spend some of it now, begrudgingly, on ensuring things stay progressing slowly forward, while spending the rest of it on applying constant political pressure through local/state/midterm elections for the next four-to-eight years so that when another candidate like Sanders appears, they have the benefit (which he never had) of available political tools allowing them to actually enact the societal and governmental changes we want to see?

The frustration in feeling forced to choose for someone who doesn't really look, sound, or represent you and your values in anything but the most basic of ways is palpable. (Keep in mind, this has been the political reality of minorities and women since they got the vote.) But one of these people is going to make America appreciably, irrevocably worse, and not doing the bare minimum (a single vote) to prevent that reality is admitting you're—at the least—tolerating an inherently racist, xenophobic, misogynist leadership, if not tacitly supporting it. Either way, progressive voters’ absence in the general will contribute to the further institutionalization of racism, strengthening it in a system that’s never not been built on it.

Making that possible, be it through inaction or spiteful reaction, is going to unleash a flood of shit. Some of you will be in a position where you’ll enjoy a good, enervating little wallow in it. The rest of us will drown.