Swans Commentary » swans.com August 7, 2016  



Left Out


by David Saslav





Chomsky and Waller omit some key points in their June 15 defense of "Lesser Evil Voting (LEV)." I have attempted here to summarize their eight points as best I can, then supply the missing corollaries here. Interestingly, the entirety of the Chomsky brief could have been put forward just as easily in 2000 as in 2016 or 1968, so little has changed.

The main takeaway, I believe, should be "LEV will kick the can down the road for another long period of time," not "Expect far more meaningful progress under a Clinton administration, overflowing with gratitude to the left for throwing its support to Clinton in key swing states in November 2016."

The Eight Points made by Chomsky and Waller may be (somewhat inexpertly) summarized as follows:

1. All votes should be cast "for" something, not against someone or some entrenched system.
2. Swing states will determine whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becomes our next president.
3. Donald Trump has some really unacceptable views...
4. ...that are sure to harm more people than Hillary's would.
5. Therefore everyone to the left of center politically must vote for Hillary in all swing states...
6. ...or risk being accused by Democrats of inflicting Trump on those he will surely harm in his first term...
7. ...and providing further ammunition for hegemony-dependent centrists (and their servile media outlets) to further repress third-party left-leaning candidacies in 2020...
8. ...therefore swing-state LEV by progressives is the only option in 2016 that will not harm its own cause.


1. Swing-state LEV does nothing to increase the likelihood of eventually establishing a federally-funded, third-party alternative to the hegemonic two-party center.
2. Those voting for viable third-party candidates in tightly-contested swing states may in fact not be participating in narcissism or self-aggrandizing moral grandstanding; but rather taking a longer-term-view that the damage and human suffering causable within any single four-year period may be less than anticipated by the centrists and center-left, and certainly less than the long-term corrosive effects which the entrenched two-party choke-hold wreaks - regardless of which "LEV demagogue" gets installed to ensure its long-term continuation.
3. Furthermore, "appeasement" of the center through Swing State LEV is by no means a guarantee that the resulting victorious centrists (in this case, Democrats) will require any less "political lebensraum" in 2020, or guarantee any left-leaning or Sandersesque progress in the intervening years.
4. The next opportunity to quell progressives' efforts to establish a lasting third party standing for long-term political infrastructural change, using the LEV bullwhip, will look and sound very similar to this one, regardless of who represents the two major entrenched parties in the 2020 presidential election; it will never be the "right time" to abandon the practice of swing-state LEV and get around to effecting the far more important task of ending our country's slide into eternal two-party turpitude.
5. One need look back no further than the first Clinton term (when Hillary tried and failed to do what Obama quasi-successfully pulled off for the healthcare system) or the first two years (2009-2010) of the Obama presidency (when the established hegemony was at its weakest due to the economic collapse, the left-leaning mandate for "Change We Can Believe In" was at its strongest, and Democrats controlled Congress - and nothing occurred of any lasting consequence to the body politic).
6. Many traditional non-swing-states are now looking "more purple than red" due to Trump's penchant for alienating anyone within earshot
7. Many traditional swing states may actually become clear majority blue states in 2016, for the exact same reason
8. Conclusion: Advocates for systemic change to the American body politic and its corrosive two-party stranglehold should be strongly encouraged to identify and vote conscientiously for left-leaning alternative candidates, especially if a viable and federally-funded progressive third party results in 2016.

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David Saslav is a software professional residing in Silicon Valley.  (back)


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Published August 7, 2016