By Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President
With less than one month left in the presidential contest and the race for the White House tightening, progressives have to make some clear-eyed decisions about whom to support. Will they support Hillary Clinton or will they cast a protest vote and support Jill Stein?
According to most national polls, the American people believe Donald Trump would be a disaster as president. Unfortunately, some progressives feel that, as abhorrent as Trump is, a vote for Clinton is not fundamentally different.
Clinton has had her own challenges, some of them real and some created to weaken her campaign. The bounce she got in the polls coming out of the Democratic Convention has slowly, but steadily, eroded.
Knowledgeable political people have said that the electoral college map overwhelmingly favors the Democrats and not to worry. Others have said that black and Latino voters are undercounted in the polls and they will overwhelmingly vote for Clinton. Again, not to worry. But in the back of my head I can hear my late grandmother with her strong Yiddish accent saying “Worry, worry!”
California is not in play. The polls say Clinton will win by close to 20 percentage points and perhaps this is the place to make a protest vote. But that would be a mistake.
We can’t be cavalier about who will be the next president. She, or he, will nominate one or more U.S. Supreme Court justices who will reaffirm or reject a woman’s right to choose, Citizens United, worker rights, voter access, affirmative action and other vital issues.
The next president will make appointments to the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and other entities that have a profound impact on people’s lives.
Unfortunately there is no viable labor party in this country, so we know the next president will either be a Democrat or Republican. Electing Donald Trump would be a catastrophe. Hillary Clinton is our best choice to advance a progressive agenda and her election must be our number one goal.
Some may see voting for a third party as not standing up to the status quo or perhaps helping to build a movement. But building movements through the electoral process rarely, if ever, happens. Our work is to build the strength of our union, to build the labor movement, and to build ties to community groups. That is what will fundamentally change the political equation in this country. The movements, however, would be set back if Donald Trump were to be elected.
While not all of Trump’s rhetoric is reactionary, we must show that the American people do not accept the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, hate-filled views that are central to his message. That can only be accomplished by a strong popular vote rejecting those ideas, and that’s why the California vote is so important.
In the coming days, we must get our members and supporters to the polls. There is much at stake in California, including continuing to restore funding to education by passing Proposition 55. But we can’t get complacent about our vote for president. Even if our electoral votes are not in doubt, this is not the time to squander a vote on Jill Stein or any third-party candidate. The American people and those around the world are counting on us.