Dan Savage, sex-advice columnist and host of popular podcast “Savage Lovecast,” has some strong arguments against fed-up progressives voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate.
Savage unloaded on a Stein supporter who called into his show in May, colorfully reiterating an oft-made argument about the privilege inherent in gambling on a Donald Trump presidency. Perhaps more significantly, the podcast host made an interesting point about what it would take for a real multiparty system to get off the ground in the United States. (While the exchange took place over a month ago, it garnered national attention this week thanks to Seattle’s The Stranger, where Savage got his start and remains editorial director.)
Savage appeared to agree with the caller that the two-party system is in need of radical reform. But rather than merely run candidates in presidential elections when the stakes are highest and the spotlight greatest, Savage said marginal political parties should make a better effort to develop their presence at the state and local level before making a run for the White House.
“I have a problem with these fake, attention-seeking, grandstanding Green/Libertarian party candidates who pop up every four years, like mushrooms in sh*t, saying that they’re building a third party,” Savage opined.
“Where are the Green Party candidates for city councils? For county councils? For state legislatures? For state assessor? For state insurance commissioner? For governor? For f**king dogcatcher?” Savage continued. “I would be so willing to vote for Green Party candidates who are starting at the bottom, grass-roots, bottom up, building a third party, a viable third party.”
HuffPost podcast “So That Happened” interviewed Jill Stein back in June:
Savage conceded that there are some Green Party candidates in state and local offices, but claimed that there is no systemic effort to get them elected across the country.
Stein has pushed back against this critique in the past, claiming that the Green Party does run local candidates across the country but they receive little media coverage.
“We have had many city councillors like Cameron Gordon in Minneapolis, school committee members, mayors, state representatives and county commissioners,” Stein said in a Reddit AMA in May.
“At the same time, we don’t want to give a free pass to the corporate predators that are occupying the presidential races,” Stein said. “It’s outrageous that a common-sense community point-of-view is being locked out.”
In his profanity-laden exchange with the Stein supporter, however, Savage also rejected some of the circular logic of progressives backing third-party candidates. On the one hand, these voters argue that there is no difference between Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, and on the other hand, they suggest that allowing the more conservative of the two to be elected would lead to such extreme conditions that it would spark a “revolution,” Savage said.
(The actress Susan Sarandon is, for example, a Bernie Sanders supporter who hinted that electing Trump ― now the Republican presidential nominee ― could ultimately lead to a revolution.)
Savage noted that the Republican and Democratic candidates can either be indistinguishable, or one can be so extreme that it would prompt a revolution, but not both.
“They’re exactly the same, exactly as awful, but one would bring the revolution and one wouldn’t,” he said. “Which means they weren’t exactly the same and they weren’t equally awful.”
Savage concluded by reiterating a more common argument for backing the Democratic candidate: that only whiter, more privileged people can afford to risk allowing Trump to be elected president.
“Disaster will come” if Trump is president, Savage stated. “And the people who’ll suffer are not going to be the pasty white Green Party supporters — pasty white Jill Stein and her pasty white supporters. The people who’ll suffer are going to be people of color. People of minority faiths. Queer people. Women.”
Stein did not mention the prospect of a revolution in her Reddit AMA, but she did claim there is little difference between presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Trump.
“It’s hard to say which is the greater evil,” Stein said.
But while there is a modicum of truth to Stein’s arguments about Clinton’s history of backing trade deals and foreign interventions unpopular with progressives, the Green Party standard-bearer erroneously claimed that Trump backed raising taxes on the rich. Trump has proposed over $9 trillion in tax cuts that would disproportionately go to the wealthiest Americans. He clarified a May remark suggesting he’d raise taxes, saying he meant he was open to tax rates higher than his proposed lower taxes, not increases relative to the current tax code.
H/T The Stranger