The anarchist’s dilemma
Last week, the New York Times published their endorsement for President. Unsurprisingly, the “Paper of Record” endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Republican nominee Donald Trump. It is almost impossible to imagine a world where the New York Times – a paper with liberal values and a history of endorsing liberals – would endorse Trump. But, for those for whom this decision may come as a shock, the Times also published an editorial detailing their reasons for not endorsing Ol’ Pickled Tangerine.
Of course, neither the endorsement nor the list of reasons not to vote for Trump mentioned the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, but this is also to be expected.
The full list is here, but the Cliff Notes are basically: Trump is a shady businessman with a history of failure; he’s a racist; he’d erode speech and expression rights to benefit him, put journalists and critics he doesn’t like in legal harm’s way, and bolster the already massive police state; he’d be bad for the economy; he’s dangerously blase about issues that affect a wide majority of Americans.
And, relatively speaking, this list is a pretty solid reason not to vote for Trump.
But here’s the anarchist’s dilemma: is the threat of a Trump presidency enough to justify a vote for Clinton? When the 2016 election cycle was in its infancy, an argument might have been reliably made for the standard “Don’t vote, they’re all evil” line of anarchist polemic. Now, with little over a month left before Election Day, the question doesn’t make way for clear answers.
Donald Trump is a material threat to individual liberty. But Hillary Clinton will, guaranteed, inflict pain and misery upon people around the world, both in continuing Bush and Obama’s horrendous war on terrorism and its attendant drone assassination programs, and by maintaining the type of closed-border protectionism that turns undocumented immigrants and refugees from the very war on terrorism she’ll keep fighting into criminals at best, and unmarked bags of bones in the desert at worst.
Donald Trump has spurred a marked rightward trend in all realms of politics, and if he were to become president it is very highly possible that he’d usher in an explicitly proto-fascist or fascist state. His candidacy has inspired cadres of white supremacists and neo-nazis to come out of the shadows and into the daylight. Hillary Clinton would not, obviously, bring about an explicitly authoritarian dictatorship domestically, but for many sectors of the country the distinction between “fascist state” and “status quo” is already too small.
An epidemic of murders of black men and women by police has been occurring for years, and while Clinton’s campaign promises to improve racial justice by “reforming sentencing laws and policies, ending racial profiling by law enforcement, [and] strengthening the bonds of trust between communities and police,” it’s doubtful that will stem the tide of murder, much less resolve a problem that even the State acknowledges – that law enforcement agencies have become saturated by white supremacists in recent years.
These problems would almost certainly be exacerbated by a Trump presidency.
So when it comes to the question of voting for Clinton to keep Trump away from the White House, the answer is not a given “yes,” but it isn’t an understood “no,” either. If one is going to vote for Clinton to keep Trump out of office, one must realize that it is not enough to vote for her; other work must be done as well.
And if one is not going to vote for Clinton, regardless of how the election turns out, it might be a good idea to be engaged in building institutions of counterpower before Trump, or Trumpism, has a chance to take over in the future.