Hillary vs. Donald: Now What?

Mar 5, 2016 | Elections, Elections - Presidential (2016)

Published: The Good Men Project (March 5, 2016)

Earlier today I was interviewed on KPFA with Kris Welch (the other guest was Sam Levine, associate politics editor at The Huffington Post). Not surprisingly, the subject was the 2016 presidential election, with many callers focusing on the ongoing Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Because I devoted a recent op-ed for Salon to the argument that each candidate’s supporters should rally behind the other one in the event of his/her nomination, I was confronted by many supporters of Sanders (who isn’t expected to win) saying they can’t imagine voting for Clinton (who is).

To those Sanders supporters, I’d like to explore another possibility that I bet you can’t imagine… but which you need to seriously contemplate, because it’s closer to being a possible reality than you might think.

Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination (which is likely) and then proceeds to triumph in the general election – which, though less likely, is hardly inconceivable. In that scenario, the chances are that when Trump arrives at the White House, he will have done so with enough electoral force to maintain or even increase his party’s hold on Congress. Although most members of the GOP in the Senate and House of Representatives are refusing to back him, it seems like they would have strong practical reasons to fall into line if Trump actually becomes the commander-in-chief. Consequently he will have a carte blanch to do whatever he pleases with his new power… starting with his pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

If I had written that paragraph only one year ago, it would have been laughed off as absurd. Now it is merely a less-likely alternative in a spectrum of scenarios with varying degrees of plausibility. That fact should terrify anyone who has listened to Trump’s rhetoric in recent weeks. Regardless of whether he is technically a fascist, it is inarguable that the man has a very anti-democratic conception of what a president should do with power. If his words are to be believed, he wouldn’t hesitate to abridge the First Amendment so as to silence dissent, force Muslims to wear identifying articles on their clothing, or foment persecution of Hispanics based on erroneous stereotypes so as to win support for his so-called “wall.” If his actions are any indication, he has no qualms about implicitly supporting violence; see the homeless Hispanic man in Boston who was savagely beaten by Trump supporters and the candidate’s blase response, the Black Lives Matter protesters who were evicted from one of his rallies, or Trump’s reluctance to disavow the Ku Klux Klan.

There is a real threat here, people, and as such this is not the time to throw away our votes in a fit of pique. The Republican Party establishment, for all of its faults, isn’t suicidal, and they are genuine when they warn us of the threat he poses. While I fully agree that Sanders is a superior candidate to Clinton, I just as strongly disagree with the notion that President Clinton would be no better than President Trump. If there is any group of people for whom these reasons should be self-evident – people whose ideology is, above all else, rooted in the belief that compassion should matter most in public policy-making – it’s Sanders supporters.