Why Progressives Need to Get the Votes Out for Clinton

This is perhaps the most crucial presidential election in post -- WWII US and global history. We stand on the threshold of mass revolt in the US mainly for failures of globalization from above. Donald Trump has fanned the fire of discontent by adding a volatile mix of jingoism, anti-immigrant and other varieties of racism, old fashioned sexism and pure and simple bigotry. It may indeed be true that he has not read or understood the US constitution, as Hillary Clinton claimed. It seems that other than the rights of the uncaring irresponsible rich and gun wielders, there are precious few rights of the people that he has much sympathy for. His economic policy platform such as it is, will be more disastrous than the globalization he seems to oppose in an opportunistically self-contradictory manner leaving his own overseas dealings impervious to his own criticisms.

More than four hundred economists -- myself included -- have signed a letter that exposes the flaws of the mainly self-serving and largely incoherent proposals of Trump. The list of professional economists critical of Trump's policy proposals include many Nobel laureates.

But the main danger if Trump is elected will be an irresponsible foreign policy. Hillary Clinton is certainly not above criticism here. In fact, to progressives like me that is her real problem. But a fascist-leaning Trump could possibly launch our country and the entire world into a massive conflagaration. Here is a man whose fantasy life can not distinguish between a 21st century military reality with nuclear war making capabilities in the hands of the major powers, and a freewheeling gun toting bully-dominated one. The latter would be bad enough, indeed savage, given the destructive power of our conventional weapons. But the scenario of nuclear disaster under President Trump is a possibility that is nightmarish. Here even a critic of Hillary in foreign policy like me has to agree with her assessment of Trump during the debates.

But what of Hillary Clinton, her foreign policy record and the future under her as the President?

It is only fair and honest to admit that a President Hillary Clinton will likely be far more hawkish than President Obama. Perhaps she will be more prone to support military intervention abroad. She may even downplay our genuine concerns with human rights. It may even be that she might ignore international law more often than President Obama has done. Her hawkish stance during the election may be partly for public consumption but given her past record on Iraq war, Libya and Ukraine, it is doubtful that all of it is just that.

But we should not assume that her first response to any real or perceived foreign policy crisis will be military intervention. Given her commitment to domestic economic well-being of citizens---helped by a push from below during the primaries concretized in the Sanders campaign--we should allow for the possibility that she is much more capable of learning from her own and other people's mistakes than her opponent.

Even if she is purely opportunistic, as some claim her to be, a push from below for a policy of peace abroad and prosperity at home will force her to choose. As Prof. Stephen Zunes points out in Tikkun:

She supported the Iraq War because, at the time of the October 2002 vote, the forces pushing for war were more powerful. She has defended Likud policies in Israel for the same reason. The answer, then, is not to refuse to vote for her on Tuesday and risk the election of the far more dangerous Republican nominee, but to challenge her hawkish proclivities after her election.

It is really up to us to be on our guard against the foreign policy elites selling us a dangerous and false bill of goods. But it is simply dangerous and infantile ultra-leftism to oppose Hillary and help elect Trump as a result. The progressive causes will recede even further from view if Trump becomes the president. Of course, even with Hillary as the president, the proto-fascist tendencies in the US will not disappear. But they can be contained better through sustained persuasion, nonviolent peace and democracy movements and by giving sage pro-people advice in our respective areas of competence as citizens and experts to our responsible policy makers.
We are indeed at a crucial divide in the US and world history. Every vote cast in our democracy matters always but at no other time perhaps has it mattered more than it will in this election.