I’m quite familiar with Dr. Stein’s position on vaccination (“People have questions.”). She and now you are opposed to mandatory vaccination, without which it is impossible to achieve herd immunity, a public health necessity. If you don’t vaccinate your children, it is not just your children whom you place at risk. It is also other people’s children, such as my son, who very nearly died of pertussis at six weeks.
Her position is they don’t cause autism. Do you really need to know anything more than that? My position is that forcing people to do things is the wrong way to govern. Empowering people to make the right choice is the right way to govern. Why force and coerce when you can educate and enlighten? I would rather ask, “why are some people so fearful of vaccination,” and address that problem than say, “these idiots need vaccines, now, and I’m going to make them get vaccinated.” That is paternalism, and being against that is part of what it means to change the system.
I think what strikes me most about your position and that of other leftist opponents of Hillary is the resistance to any form of moral relativism, normally a hallmark of religious extremists. The irony is that in a Trump Administration, we permanently cede control of nearly all of the machinery of our government to those same deranged right wing religious extremists, who will acquire a supermajority on the Supreme Court and an insuperable structural advantage in Congress and most of the state legislatures. These people will enthusiastically persecute people like you and me, to say nothing of the roughly 150 million American POC and more than 165 million women. But in a Hillary Administration (which will be no worse than the Obama Administration), we will have a great opportunity to regain the Supreme Court, to dissent, and to build real movements of change. This is Bernie’s (and Noam Chomsky’s) point in endorsing Hillary. They’re not wrong. You are.
Ah, but you are the one resisting moral relativism. You’re only looking at it from one angle. Consider: I think the system we have in place is an epic failure. I think the two-party system needs to be upended, yesterday. I think our corporatist government could very well do irreparable damage to the entire planet if it continues, regardless of which flavor of corporatism is running the show. I have a moral obligation to not participate in that, don’t I? The choice in front of me is, do I willingly take part in what I know to be an unjust system and cast my vote for a villain, thereby giving tacit endorsement to whatever evils he or she will perpetrate, or do I use my vote for the purpose it was intended — to represent me — by making a real, legitimate case for change, by adding momentum to the notion that third-party and Independent candidates can and should be viable someday?
The question, then, isn’t whether I think Trump or Clinton would be better. The question is whether I think the disparity there is worth me endorsing murder, endorsing inertia, endorsing oppression, endorsing corruption, endorsing environmental damage, and accepting the idea that I must choose between a neoliberal disaster or a neofascist catastrophe. Because that is the reality of the situation. Maybe I do believe that Trump or Clinton would be better, but this distinction does not exist in a vacuum, and I place higher value on seeing this system upended faster rather than waiting for a better moment. There will never be a better moment. The best moment is now. It’s always has been now, is currently now, and will continue to be now.
Perhaps to you a different question is more important, and you are entitled to feel that way. You and millions more have that privilege in 2016. But, I would argue you are refusing to see the moral relativism between willfully perpetuating the system as-is by voting for Clinton or Trump and actively trying to change the system with a vote, assuming this is negligible in comparison to what you predict would be the disparity between a Clinton or Trump Presidency. The logic for why I prioritize change over the difference between Clinton and Trump is that the United States has an extremely long history of violence, oppression, terror, destruction, imperialism, murder, and overall bad behavior, regardless of the party of the President in question, all of which has been predicated on the major parties continually boxing out all other opposition since 1829. The names of the parties may have changed over time, but not their functionality in maintaining the two-party system. I don’t think the choice between Trump or Clinton is as important as the choice to put an end to that legacy.
You see, we are not different in this. We just hold different premises to be true. You think a Trump Presidency would be so much worse than a Clinton Presidency that you are willing to hand your vote over to her. You have Chomsky on your side, and he’s certainly an intellectual heavyweight, but he is just another authority in this context, and an appeal to authority is still a logical fallacy. Telling me I’m wrong because I disagree with someone is an empty argument. I agree with Chomsky about a lot, but not about this.
I cannot in good conscience vote for either of these two candidates. This is not a failing on my part, so please stop trying to convince me to vote for one of them through false accusations of intellectual incompetence on my part, or privilege, or immorality, guilt trips, or appeals to authority. It is a failing on the part of the two major parties for not giving me a candidate I can vote for. If you have a problem with me not voting for Clinton or Trump, take it up with their parties for producing terrible candidates. I am not the bad guy here; they are. Make the Democrats or Republicans deliver me a candidate I and millions more can vote for, or we will make them obsolete. Maybe not today, but it will happen.
I don’t think I am asking too much. My ethos is pretty simple. As a Satanist, I’m looking for benevolence and compassion. These candidates lack both.