In a few days the world will usher in 2016, and every news outlet in America will chatter about the prospects for the Presidential election.
On November 4 voting will occur to pick the successor to President Barack Obama, and whoever it turns out to be will take office on January 20, 2017.
Elections today not just in America but in the United Kingdom, in New Zealand and in many other nations are cynical exercises. People step into the voting booth and they think of who is most likely to win. More often than not they vote for that candidate. In New Zealand voters in significant seats do not vote for the candidate of the party they support because they know that by supporting a different candidate who will work in coalition with the government, their government has a better chance of winning power again, and again.
Voting has become a game of chess, a strategy exercise. But it was never meant to be thus. Revolutionary democracies started with the novel idea that voting for the person you want to represent and lead you would furnish society with good government. People would wield tremendous power, but only temporarily, and only with the consent of the governed. Strategic voting erodes this because it furnishes society with mainstream leaders. The kind of career politicians who become adept at surviving in politics through contorting their positions through the years, and perfecting the art of dodging questions and loudly saying nothing of substance.
The more prescient amongst you might realise that I am referring to Hillary Clinton as being one of the career politicians who lives on this kind of subversion of democracy. She has survived through the branding and name recognition that comes with being a Clinton. She has added to this with corporate sponsorship, and a careful building up of her own credentials to create a separation between her and her husband. The result is a powerful one. Hillary Clinton has the power base, the experience, and most importantly the money to be the candidate who will probably win. But I don’t think voters should be voting for who will win. They should vote for who should win.
Senator Bernie Sanders is a candidate who should win. He is a career politician, but not on the national stage, and his career has been one of fighting for the downtrodden and opposing the nefarious influences that have captured and perverted American democracy. He may not win. But it won’t be for lack of trying, and the more people find out about him the better he does. This his because his long career has been remarkably consistent. Where Clinton has flip-flopped her way to the political Zeitgeist, Sanders has pulled the Zeitgeist to him. He hasn’t changed. A life in State politics, then Congress has taught him that mass mobilisation of people can put pressure on the government to act against the rich influences that hold it back.
He believes that a society cannot exist while the gap between rich and poor grows and the middle class disappears. More than that he knows that wealth and prosperity are magnified and grown when they are shared. Give the richest 1% more money and it disappears offshore so the taxman can’t get at it. Give the poor money and they spend it. They consume, business and commerce flourishes. Freeing them from the crippling cost of healthcare further allows them to boost the economy by living without the stress of pending illness. Making university tuition free makes for class mobility. People advance through their strengths which can be honed to an internationally competitive level. This is true capitalism. To compete, in a compassionate society that has your back as well as clearing your way ahead.
Hillary Clinton wants to muddle around with the status quo and enjoy the historical first of being a woman in the Oval Office. People of America, you have millions of women whom Hillary is not worthy to wipe the dust from their shoes. Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachmann are far from the best you can do. Think of Elizabeth Warren, or Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. Don’t rush to get the first woman, get the right one.
I am in New Zealand, so I don’t get to vote for President. I care about this because it affects me, because it is in my interest–if only sentimentally–for America to do well. For American democracy to have a new birth of freedom, and be worthy of the dream behind it.
In 2016 I hope you feel the Bern, and on January 20 a forty-fifth President takes office who is worthy of the responsibility of building a better world.