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I Live in a Deep Red State – Why Vote Clinton?

Before I get into the meat of this blog entry, I wanted to stipulate five things

  1. At this time, it does seem like Hillary Clinton will be the eventual Democratic Presidential nominee
  2. I concede that for progressives like myself, Clinton is preferable to ANYONE running on the Republican side.
  3. I realize the Supreme Court is at stake, with four potential retirements and/or deaths by natural causes in the next Presidential term.
  4. During the general election cycle, I plan to donate to the Democratic nominee, regardless of who it is.
  5. I WILL be voting in the 2016 election, as I have in every Presidential election since 1984. There are ALWAYS down ticket candidates or initiatives to weigh in on no matter who is at the top of the ticket.

Having said the above, I have serious problems with Secretary Clinton as a candidate. I find her too hawkish – she’s as likely to start a war with Iran as her Republican opponents. She’s chastised President Obama for not being aggressive enough in foreign policy. Clinton and her husband are fairly secretive people who have demonstrated to me that they regard rules as things for other people. And despite her recent populist rhetoric, she’s been pretty corporate friendly. As was her husband when he was President.

Now if I lived in a swing state, I would set that aside and vote for her anyway. For all of my problems with Secretary Clinton, she is still preferable to any Republican currently running. She wouldn’t try to turn back the clock on GLBT rights, she would not approve a repeal of Obamacare and she accepts human generated climate change.

If the President was elected by popular vote, I would vote for Clinton despite my reservations. In a nationwide popular vote, every vote counts. But we don’t have a nationwide popular vote, as demonstrated by Al Gore’s loss in 2000. Instead we’re saddled by the Electoral College, which ensures my vote does not count outside of Alaska.  Alaska, like all but two of the 50 states is a “Winner take all” state. This means whoever wins the popular vote in Alaska gets all three of our electoral votes. Alaska is also deeply Republican Red when it comes to Presidential elections. How red? Here is a chart of Republican and Democratic votes for President going back to 1988:

Year R D Margin of R Victory
2012 55 41 14
2008 59 38 21
2004 61 36 25
2000 59 28 31
1996 51 33 18
1992* 39 30 9
1988 60 36 24

Source: Alaska Division of Elections, Election Resultshttp://elections.alaska.gov/vi_vrs-er.php

*In 1992, Rose Perot, a right-wing leaning millionaire candidate ran an unusually successful third-party campaign. Most commentators I’m aware of believe he drew more votes from George HW Bush than from Clinton.

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It’s clear to me that if historical trends continue, no matter who I vote for, the Republican nominee will win Alaska’s three electoral votes. So in this environment, why should I not demonstrate that progressives are tired of being taken for granted by voting 3rd party?

In 2008 I enthusiastically voted for Obama out of my own free will. In 2012 I was deeply frustrated and saddened by the President on several of my key issues, particularly torture and surveillance. But I let myself be persuaded by the argument that we needed to rack up the popular vote count so that Congress would realize that President Obama had a mandate. President Obama did win a clear popular vote victory. But the Republicans in Congress not only denied that he had a mandate, many of them continued to deny his legitimacy! So why would they give Secretary Clinton any more credence? It seems to me that in a deep Red state like Alaska, a vote for Clinton would neither affect the electoral vote outcome, nor would it contribute to giving her slightly-more-progressive-than-Republican agenda greater legitimacy with a Republican Congress.  A vote for Clinton HERE, would be a wasted vote. Doesn’t it make more sense for progressives in deep Red states to vote en mass for Greens or another progressive party to make it clear that we are an interest group that Democrats should stop ignoring? Or to help build 3rd parties at the state level so we can one day have a real alternative to the national security/corporate rights party that seems to run our nation these days?

If you disagree, let me know why in comments. With arguments that don’t apply to swing states. As I said above, if I lived in a state where my vote could actually push Clinton over the top, I would vote for her despite my misgivings.

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