President Obama Cured This Bernie Or Buster

Obama gave me the reality check I needed.
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Jim Young / Reuters

I had it all ready to go. In a flash of inspiration, I had typed up about 3,000 words to explain how, after this whole #DNCLeak thing, I was still a Bernie or Bust guy.

And then the web page into which I was typing the essay went kaput. There was no saved draft and no getting it back. My entire morning of writing and researching, just gone.

I continued with my work, prepping and hosting my radio show. After it concluded, I began retyping the essay, this time into Microsoft Word where it would be auto-saved.

I got about 2,000 words into the re-write when blink! – my laptop suddenly shut off. Black screen, no power. It’s on the fritz. I restarted and left the condo to go get some groceries.

After dinner I fired up Word again and recovered the auto-save. It still had about 1,700 of the words. I was just about ready to bury myself into the second half of the essay explaining how sometimes, you just have to draw a line, and the DNC rigging the system crossed that line for me.

Then I saw that President Obama was coming to the stage of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. I’ve had C-SPAN on every hour of the convention, sometimes muted. OK, I thought, let me save what I’ve got written and watch him speak. I’ll finish the essay afterward.

Along with writing, I do public speaking for a living, and watching that man deliver a speech is like watching a gold medal Olympic performance. Tonight, we got a gold medal world record performance.

I came back to the laptop and looked at the 1,700 or so words and knew that two computer failures earlier in the day had saved me a whole lot of heartache moving forward. Because in that 40-odd minute speech, Barack Obama convinced me to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Not like Hillary Clinton. Not support Hillary Clinton. But I will vote for her in November.

Politics Is About Feelings, Policy Is About Facts

Listening to Obama, I finally felt as if someone were addressing my frustration and anger and disappointment with the Democratic Party in general and Hillary Clinton in particular, not in a lecturing, patronizing, mocking, or insulting way, as I’ve been receiving from all quarters, but in an understanding, inclusive and adult way.

In the face of our continued protests, even after Bernie himself endorsed Hillary, most Democrats reflexively jumped straight to logic, showed a CLINTON > TRUMP inequality, and then berated the Bernie Bros for being too stupid for basic math. Tonight, it felt like Obama had heard us and understood there’s sincere, legitimate emotion behind our protests. They aren’t rooted in being idiotic fanatical misogynist heterosexual cisgendered privileged white males (speaking at least for myself), but are rooted in true love for our democracy, fair play, and progressive ideals.

Yeah, the system is rigged and we’re going to continue having Mideast war and shitty trade deals and fossil fuels and big pharma and money in politics and Hillary Clinton by her nature is going to be pulled toward the pragmatic center. I don’t disavow anything I’ve written in my previous evaluations of her. I still hold to a lot of George Carlin’s observation that this country was bought and sold a long time ago and it’s their club and we’re not in it. I’m under no illusion that my voting for Hillary Clinton is going to make any of these issues go away or even improve most of them.

But then again, neither will Donald Trump. At best, things will stay as shitty as they are and at worst things get far shittier.

Who Do You Want Running The Shitty System?

I guess I’ve just given in to the fact that we’re going to be ruled by two parties of corrupt oligarchs, so better to have the one whose audience looks more like the America I like and less like the audience for a performance of Riverdance in Whitefish, Montana. Somehow, Obama triggered a reality check in me that life sucks, buy a helmet; politics ain’t beanbag; you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

What I need is the marijuana industry to continue to develop, because it pays my bills. My worst case scenario under Hillary Clinton is some regulatory nightmares around rescheduling natural THC down to Schedule II. My worst case scenario under Donald Trump is an Attorney General Chris Christie who begins vigorous federal enforcement of drug laws and shuts the whole thing down.

And it was probably President Obama’s line about how passionate we’ve been for Bernie in the election is how passionate we need to be about politics the other three years that flipped the switch. I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton and then I’m going to be a pain in her fucking ass for the next four years. I was reminded of Franklin Roosevelt’s line about “You’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it.” to the labor movement.

It’s not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump that’s going to make real lasting change, it’s us. It’s the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter and every protest and petition we throw her way. It wasn’t Bill Clinton or Barack Obama that legalized gay marriage and weed, it was grassroots politics at the state level and a sustained assault on the judiciary.

A Liberal Supreme Court Until I Die

And while Obama didn’t mention it, yeah, I have to be honest and say the Supreme Court threat has finally worked on me. It was in that montage of Obama’s legacy where it showed him with Sonia Sotomayor that nailed it. I had been holding on to the idea that Ruth Bader Ginsburg could hold on to age 87 – she’s feisty and white female life expectancy is 81 now.

But as it appears the GOP will never confirm Merrick Garland, a Trump win means at least a 5-4 conservative majority and three liberal Justices in their 80s. In one term, he could possibly tilt the court to an 8-1 conservative majority that would last the rest of my life.

Now I’m salivating at the idea of retaking Congress and Hillary Clinton getting to appoint at least a 5-4 liberal majority and maybe a 6-3 majority. Give her a second term and Alito and Thomas are in their 70s and we could go 7-2 or even 8-1 (and Roberts as Chief Justice all alone on the right warms the cockles of my heart.)

Another thing that has convinced me to vote for Hillary is Hurricane Katrina. Some parts of government aren’t liberal or conservative, they’re just bureaucracies that need to function properly. I don’t trust much about Hillary Clinton except that she is a master bureaucrat. I can’t see her FEMA letting a city full of poor black people drown through mismanagement, incompetence, and apathy.

One of my biggest complaints about Hillary is how she voted for the Iraq War and stood against gay marriage, only to later say those stances were a mistake. But President Obama helped me see that good people can make bad mistakes for the wrong reasons when they’re trying to work within a corrupted system. He made me feel like Hillary may not be a good candidate for me, there’s at least a chance to make her good enough. Trump’s not going to respond to anything I do.

I criticized her as being beholden to the polls. But President Obama kind of helped me see that as a good thing. If I don’t want Hillary going to war, promoting fracking, instituting bad trade deals and the like, all we’ve got to do is make it unpopular for her to do so. (Example: compare Obama ’09 laughing at marijuana legalization against Obama ’16 calling it “legitimate”.)

You Say You Want A Revolution

Now, I know that fans of mine are going to rend garments and gnash teeth over this essay. I expect to be called a sell-out and worse. But a man has the right to evaluate new data, re-examine old assumptions, and come to new conclusions, and if he discovers he’s wrong, admit it. I wasn’t wrong to argue forcefully for Bernie Sanders to be the nominee, but it would be wrong of me to continue advising people not to vote for Hillary Clinton.

I re-examined the platform of the Libertarians, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. First, it was ironic of me to write a popular essay about how I don’t vote Republican, yet I was considering voting for two former Republican governors. But second, I realized how there is probably more in my list policy disagreements with them than I have with Hillary Clinton. Sure, they’re great on marijuana legalization and gay rights, but what’s this about abolishing the IRS and Department of Education?

I get along great with the platform of Jill Stein and the Green Party. But what good is a vote for either Libertarians or Greens for president actually going to accomplish? If you’re in a safe red or blue state you might make the argument that you’re building viability for the party, seeking matching federal funds and the like, but you’ll also be reducing the popular vote mandate for the candidate I hope you’re hoping will beat Trump. But if you’re in a swing state, your vote goes in the Stop Trump bucket, the Help Trump bucket, or the Do Nothing and Let Everyone Else Decide bucket.

I’ve returned to my previous argument that the game theory of our electoral system means no third party is ever going to win the presidency in my lifetime, and worse, can only successfully help choose for president the candidate most people don’t want (see: Bill Clinton’s 43% win in 1992). Mapping out the scenarios by which Gary Johnson could tie up the Electoral College has convinced me further that the US is simply locked into a two-party system unless we amend the Constitution. A third party would have to win the Electoral College outright, because all the tie-breaking scenarios favor the party in power in the Congress, and there’s not a single elected Libertarian or Green in there. (Note: If you’re in Utah, though, please, vote Libertarian. That state was never going to Clinton and you’d cost Trump 6 Electoral Votes.)

I know by voting for Hillary Clinton becoming president I am affixing my approval to her next war, her next bank bailout, and all those things I’ve been writing about. But I can also say that I did the most I could with my vote to ensure America would never be led by sociopath. The system we have is brutal, corrupt, and shitty enough without handing it over to Donald Trump, a Republican Congress, and a conservative Supreme Court.

I guess I’m with Giant Douche 2016 over Turd Sandwich. At least Giant Douche leaves you feeling clean and refreshed and has far less e coli than Turd Sandwich.