Among my many intelligent and opinionated friends on Facebook the subject of corporate influence in elections has (of course) come up and protesting that corporate influence is a major reason that some people are insisting they're going to "vote their conscience" this time around, whether they're planning to vote for Bernie Sanders or for a third party candidate.
Everyone who knows me must know by now what a dim view I have of corporations, particularly the "mega" sort. (I realize "everyone who knows me" doesn't include most Daily Kos readers but anyone who's a friend on Facebook and who regularly reads my posts should know my views by now.)
I do what I can to avoid spending money that ends up going back to mega-corporations but I'm still not walking everywhere I go (I buy gasoline and oil from time to time) or growing my own food (I buy groceries at WinCo which is employee-owned but at least some of the products I buy come from mega-corporations). I have liquidated all but one of my investment accounts but I still have that one with its small sum which still helps three companies large enough to be selling shares to the public. (Hopefully I'll be completely out of the stock markets sometime this year.)
Unless you're living a really different existence than most Americans then you are also supporting mega-corporations in some way. I think that everyone who complains about corporate influence but who hasn't completely divested themselves of contributing to corporate profits is being a bit of a hypocrite when they claim they're going to do something significant to change the current political system in the USA with a mere vote.
If you really want to change the system then boycott the economy to the greatest extent possible because that's the only way to take control and demand real action. (Consider recent events in Indiana.) I've written that probably two dozen times (at least), along with detailed suggestions about how to go about boycotting the economy, but I've yet to hear of much of anyone doing it.
I digress. (You'll learn that about me with time and future diaries.)
Let me first address why I'm not voting for Bernie Sanders.
More below the fold.
I adore Bernie Sanders and I've loved his political positions for quite a while. Four or five years ago I had a "Bernie Sanders for President" bumper sticker on the rear fender of my car but that was in Sonoma County, California where such a thing is not a big deal. To do the same thing where I live now, in a very conservative city in Idaho, might get me shot or at least vandalized.
Bernie Sanders has GREAT ideas. He really does speak for most Americans – if they all would only listen. However ...
I maintain the position that Bernie will not be elected in the primary – not as a Socialist. If Bernie decides to not run as a Democrat after all and chooses to run as an independent he won't win the general election because no independent or third party candidate wins Presidential elections.
Bernie's biggest problem, though, is going to be his Socialist label. He's a Democratic Socialist, yes, but Americans are fearful of Socialism and it doesn't matter what "flavor" of Socialist a person may be; like crows who are drawn to shiny objects, Americans tend to seize upon the thing that most stands out and “Socialist” is going to stand out, and apart, from any other descriptor associated with it.
Bernie Sanders would probably make a great President but most Americans don't understand Socialism; they equate Socialism with Communism and that scares the crap out of them. A friend suggested that Bernie should start calling himself a Populist instead of a Socialist but it's far too late for that; the "Socialist!" label is going to haunt him. So he won't go very far and I believe that Bernie staying in the campaign for too long will hurt us.
The best I can hope for is that Bernie continues to run as a Democrat for long enough to participate in the primary debates, brings issues to those debates that may otherwise be ignored, and then drops out early. If by some miracle Bernie should happen to become the nominee, I believe that conservatives will come out in force to vote against a "scary Socialist." If Bernie decides after all to not run as a Democrat and runs as an independent, he will split the far left vote (and possibly the left-moderate vote too) and the country (and the world) can't afford that. Either scenario would hand the election to the GOP.
If Bernie doesn't drop out early I will call his office every day and plead with him to drop out. I have the time to do that and I'll do it. Too much is at stake, particularly regarding SCOTUS, to play around with "pie-in-the-sky" visions of sanity. I wish the country as a whole were sane but obviously that's not the case or there wouldn't be a Tea Party, etc.
Now on to third party candidates.
I appreciate that the Green Party is the only major US political party that does not accept corporate donations, but ... well, let's look at the election results for the Green Party over the last five general elections.
• 1996: 684,871 total votes, 0.71% of popular vote
• 2000: 2,882,955 total votes, 2.74% of popular vote
• 2004: 119,859 total votes, 0.10% of popular vote
• 2008: 161,680 total votes, 0.12% of popular vote
• 2012: 468,907 total votes, 0.36% of popular vote
As you can see, over the last nearly 20 years, the Green Party has managed to rack up more than 1% of the popular vote only once. That was in the year 2000 and we all know what happened in 2000: Bush "won" Florida, which decided the election once the Supreme Court (SCOTUS!!) weighed in, by 537 more votes than Gore received. Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate, received 97,421 votes in Florida. How might things be different today had those 97,421 votes gone to Gore?
In quite a few states the Green Party doesn't even manage to get on the ballot. That was the case in 2012 for the non-swing states of Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota and for the swing states of Nevada and North Carolina. The Green Party also wasn't on the ballot in 2012 in the states of Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming but voters had the option of writing in the Green Party candidate in those states.
Let me mention the Libertarian Party now. Here are the results of the last five general elections:
• 1996: 485,798 total votes, 0.51% of popular vote
• 2000: 390,206 total votes, 0.38% of popular vote
• 2004: 397,265 total votes, 0.33% of popular vote
• 2008: 523,686 total votes, 0.40% of popular vote
• 2012: 1,275,917 total votes, 0.99% of popular vote
Again, the Libertarian Party isn't always an option on every state ballot but that party is on far more state ballots than the Green Party.
I'm not even going to mention the Constitution Party's results, partly because that party with its immediate mention of "God" in its platform is a perversion of the Constitution it supposedly represents.
I could take the time to list all of the figures for the last five general elections for the Democratic and Republican parties but this little essay is already too long so I'll just mention the results of the last general election.
In the 2012 election Barack Obama received 65,915,796 total votes (51.06% of the popular vote) and Mitt Romney received 60,933,500 total votes (47.20% of the popular vote). Many millions more than any other candidate from any other party.
Again in Florida in 2012 the "win margin" was very close: 74,309 – 0.88% – more votes were cast for Obama than for Romney. (Jill Stein of the Green Party received 8,947 votes – 0.11% – in Florida and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party received 44,726 votes – 0.53% – in that state.)
If you want to "vote your conscience" you're certainly free to do that. You're free to not vote at all for that matter. Neither option is acceptable to me, for my own vote.
When an election can come down to 537 votes in one swing state and maybe involve a Supreme Court decision, and the realistic choice is whether we'll continue on a path of progress and equality or suffer through "Bush III" (whether the GOP candidate is Jeb or someone else), the choice is very easy for me. In 2016, with four Justices who could retire or die at any time (never mind that anything could happen to any of the other five Justices), the choice is very easy for me.
Hillary Clinton may not be my dream candidate but she will likely be the Democratic nominee. Bottom line: I will vote against the GOP, and I will vote to WIN.
I make no apologies. I don't believe in miracles or in splitting "my side's" vote. I believe in math and in not participating in handing complete power to the GOP. And my conscience is very clear because, after all, I'm not 100% free from corporations, 100% green, or 100% libertarian. I don't know anyone who is.