“I don’t vote with my vagina”, said Susan Sarandon on BBC’s Newsnight, explaining her refusal to back Hillary Clinton. “This is bigger than that.”
I would never presume to tell any American, much less Ms Sarandon, how to vote. Or with what part of their body. But this is an election with global implications and its polarised, toxic climate has global parallels. So, I feel entitled at the very least to plea with the American people.
Take it as a compliment; as a confirmation of your status as a superpower. Few people would be interested in, or get involved with, your election if the world didn’t acknowledge your global importance.
Sarandon is fairly representative of a growing segment of the “progressive left” which demands revolution and refuses to accept compromise. I hear you. I must point out, however, that whenever the left has demanded “all or nothing” in the setting of a Western capitalist democracy, the answer from the electorate has come back as a fairly resounding “ok, nothing”.
Just like Democrats who feel an intense antipathy towards Clinton, there are moderate Republicans who may also be facing existential questions regarding their current candidate. I must address you, too.
The choice before which you find yourselves is fairly binary. Fantasy aside, the next President of the United States will be either Trump or Clinton. Voting for either has consequences. Voting for some third option has consequences. Not voting has consequences. Consequences for you as American citizens and for the whole world.
I understand the allure of Trump, I really do. When you feel you have been fucked by the establishment your entire life, it is easy to see being given the opportunity to fuck yourself for once as a great act of revolution. It isn’t.
Let me share with you some wisdom that comes from the recent Brexit result, from the fiasco that has been the tussle for leadership of the Labour party in the UK, from the events I have witnessed over the last few years in Greece, and from decades of role-playing games: Pulling the lever, just because you can, just to see what it does, is rarely the prudent course of action.
The choice before which you find yourself is fairly binary and actually very simple. When you cut through all the white noise and media nonsense, the question is: who should be Commander in Chief of the world’s most potent military power? Hillary Clinton, warts and all – and the warts are numerous and large – or a man who has shown himself to be overtly racist and misogynist, patently unstable, erratic and, frankly, pretty stupid?
I know many of you will disagree with my assessment of Trump. But many of you will agree, and still be tempted to pull the lever. Either because you’re a Republican who feels fierce loyalty or because you’re a democrat who cannot stand Clinton. The stakes, especially considering Putin’s penchant for cock-swinging, could not be higher. If you cannot see past your tribalism or your moral superiority, hold your nose and vote for Clinton, the world will be in all sorts of trouble.
Yes, I know you’re sick of holding your nose and voting for the lesser of two evils. I am sick of it, too. But there is no magic button we can press and change the world. Change involves hard graft, compromise and – yes – sometimes choosing between two unpalatable options.
Nor do you get bonus points for enabling the wrong thing for the right reasons. One of two people will hold the nuclear codes, come January. There is no moral ground high enough to protect you from the consequences of that decision. Success is sometimes not measured by what was achieved, but by what was averted. I beg you to think about your choice.
It is time – urgent time, high time – to put aside the toddler politics of “I want”. Change is either incremental or violent. If we reject the former, we had better be prepared for the latter.