Tuesday, August 9, 2016

You Cannot Hope to Bribe or Twist

Avedon Carol's Sideshow continues to be a very useful source of links, but there's less discussion in the comments than there used to be.  I remember having some spirited debates there in 2008, especially.  Her blog is still prominent enough to draw fire from Democratic loyalists, however, and under the latest post is a fine example of the syndrome.  I'm going to quote the whole thing, because comments have a tendency to disappear over time as one commenting platform is replaced by another, and it might be handy to be able to quote this in the future as an example of a well-trained Clintonbot.
Every time the "lesser evil" debate comes up, it bears repeating that we could solve this once and for all with approval voting. And repeating, and repeating. The two-party monopoly is a function of the voting system, and that can be fixed.
Lots of luck fixing that; I can't see Clinton taking any interest in the project, or the party elites on either side.  How would you change the voting system, by the way?  By voting?
In this particular case, I have to say the "lesser evil" question looks pretty easy to me. Clinton has the most progressive Democratic platform ever*, and while she's more hawkish than Obama and that sucks, that would still makes her the second least hawkish president in over 100 years. Her opponent is a narcissist with ADD who's riding a wave of hate and wants to know why we don't just nuke more countries. I voted Nader because I didn't see the difference between Gore and Bush, and I think history has proven that there was one. But there is no doubt at all that, as inadequate to the deeper challenges as Clinton is, she's a damn sight better than Trump.
Nice footwork.  As far as I can tell, there's no need to prove that Clinton is the lesser evil to anyone but a Trump supporter.  If you're addressing a frustrated progressive or liberal who says that everybody must vote for Clinton because otherwise Trump will win, that Clinton is the lesser evil is already given.  The Sanders supporters who don't want to vote for Clinton aren't really interested in the question; they recognize that even if Clinton is the lesser evil, she's still very evil; even if she's not as dangerous as Trump, she's still very dangerous.  So this commenter, whether intentionally or out of standard partisan cluelessness, misses the point completely.

The commenter's defenses are of course debatable.  It's certainly open to question whether Clinton would be "the second least hawkish president in 100 years", especially if (as it appears) the least hawkish president is supposed to be Obama.  I'm not really interested in how progressive the current Democratic platform is, and I see no reason to suppose that this commenter is any better informed on that topic than on Clinton's hawkishness.

On the fabled difference between Gore and Bush, much beloved of Democratic loyalists, no one has any idea what Gore would have done if he'd become president.  I suppose that the commenter has in mind Gore's environmental campaigning after he became a more or less private citizen, but private citizens are much less constrained that elected officials, including American presidents.  (Again, it's funny how partisans oscillate between touting the great power of presidents on one hand, and denying that they can do anything on the other.)   Gore didn't distinguish himself as a progressive while he was vice-president, and I see no reason to suppose that he'd have changed if he'd gained the White House.  It might be pertinent to recall the difference between Jimmy Carter's inspiring behavior and pronouncements since he became a private citizen, and his squalid record while he was in the Oval Office.  For what little it's worth, I voted for Nader not because I thought there was no difference between Gore and Bush, but because the differences were too small to suit me.  Anyone who wants to argue this line should have to address the many continuities between Bush and Obama, in terms of hawkishnness and hostility to civil liberties at home.

"Her opponent is a narcissist with ADD who's riding a wave of hate and wants to know why we don't just nuke more countries."  I've become increasingly intolerant of Democrats who use mental illness as an accusation against Trump and his followers.  As far as I know, no mental health professional is in a position to diagnose Trump with any condition, so neither this commenter nor I know whether Trump has ADD for example.  Even if he did, mental illness (like mental retardation) is not a moral failing, yet it's clear that these Dems assume that it is.  If Clinton or Obama were known to have ADD or some other condition, their fans and their organizations would be spinning it in terms of a heroic individual's struggle with a cripping disease, and they would assure the nation that the illness would not hinder the candidate's performance in office.  It's especially ironic since a favorite anti-Trump talking point is his mockery of a disabled journalist a few months ago.  The wave of hate that has been directed by Democrats at Trump all along means that they're in no position to cast the first stone.
*Some would say "who cares about the platform, it's all lies." But history shows that, whether they truly believe it or not, presidents try to keep the majority of their promises. Go ahead and discount the Democratic platform by 1/3; it's still light years from Trump.
Would "some" say that?  Maybe.  "Some" will probably say anything you like; it's a big world.  Just how far apart Clinton and Trump really are is hard to say, and I don't see that it matters, certainly not enough to spend much time debating it.  For all that Trump has taken many vile positions, his lack of any real political experience means that he has no record to judge what kind of a president he'd make.  Not that I have any wish to find out, and his record as a businessman inspires no optimism anyway.  But "light years"?  I don't think so.  I guess that if you're one of the Good Guys, as the commenter evidently assumes him or herself to be, that kind of childish exaggeration ("thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis big!") is supposed to pass for rational discourse.  Once again, we see that Democratic apologists won't be satisfied if you recognize Clinton as the lesser evil; you must convince yourself that she's a positive good.