(And why we should chill out about the next election)
Spare me your outrage. I voted for her in 2012, and I liked it.
I waited in line for an hour, I didn’t second-guess myself, and I never regretted it.
My politics haven’t changed much since then. If anything I’m much more concerned about the environment and climate change now than I was four years ago.
I’ve covered my fair share of climate protests, spent many weekends embedded with activists, kept up with the national and international climate movements, and I even made it all the way through “This Changes Everything.” And yet I have no love for Jill Stein.
There’s the obvious not-not-against-vaccinations thing, which is irksome for those of us who have been arguing that conservatives need to take science seriously when it comes to climate change*.
But more recently, and arguably more damning, there’s this: the revelation that she’s almost certainly invested in fossil fuels, among other disreputable industries.
The Daily Beast broke the news Wednesday night:
To learn more about the funds Stein has invested in, The Daily Beast did not have to engage in significant research by any definition. A simple Google search of the name of each of the funds she has invested in returned publicly available marketing documents produced by the investment managers that showed where these funds were investing their capital…
Stein has invested $995,011 to $2.2 million in funds such as the Vanguard 500 fund that maintain significant stakes in Exxon and other energy companies like Chevron, Duke Energy, Conoco Phillips, and Toho Gas, a Japanese company that engages in the sale of natural gas, tar, and coke, a fuel made from coal…
Stein has invested roughly $1.2 to $2.65 million in funds like the TIAA-CREF Equity Index that have big stakes in the financial services industry. Holdings in these funds include big banks like JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank as major parts of their investment portfolios…
she has between $50,001-$100,000 invested in a fund that has the Raytheon Corporation as its fourth largest holding, a $38 million investment. Raytheon, which is the fourth largest defense contractor in the world and derives 90 percent of its revenue from military contracts.
This is, at best, a failure on a symbolic level. She cannot possibly claim that she was both unaware of what her mutual funds might be invested in, and paying attention to the last few years of climate activism which saw some massive victories in the area of divestment…
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, worth $860 million; Stanford University’s endowment of $18.7 billion***; The Church of England’s £9 billion investment fund, and many, many more hard-fought victories, earned by people at the grassroots level.
The Guardian’s outgoing editor-in-chief even made a divestment campaign his last hurrah before retiring.
This is Jill Stein’s #Aleppomoment.
And what would she accomplish if elected, anyway? Sure a lot of** her platform is… pretty ideal, but we can’t ignore reality. Barack Obama faced obstructionism from a Republican-controlled Congress. How would Stein fare against a legislative body all but completely united against her less-than-corporate-friendly agenda?
Executive action? If it mattered, it would almost certainly be repealed by the next president.
These questions didn’t exactly cross my mind when I voted Green four years ago. I didn’t have to think about them. The point wasn’t to actually see her elected, it was to express my distaste for the system.
That kind of thinking doesn’t cut it anymore. The climate movement has to be pragmatic, and it has to be realistic. Tackling these issues is too big for one presidential victory. And it’s foolish to invest any time or resources into a sure-failed presidential campaign built around the idea of being able to smugly say you didn’t vote for the one that turned up the drone strikes.
Consider the argument that Dan Savage made about building a viable alternative party:
You don’t do that by trotting out the reanimated corpse of Ralph fucking Nader every four fucking years. Or his doppelgänger, whoever it is now, Jill Stein and some asshole-to-be-named four years from now. You start by running grassroots, local campaigns. And there’ve been — and I’m sure we’re going hear from lots of people out there listening — there have been a couple of Green Party candidates who’ve run in other races here and there across the country. But no sustained effort to build a Green Party nationally. Just this griping, bullshitty, grandstanding, fault-finding, purity-testing, holier than thou-ing, that we are all subjected to every four fucking years by the Green Party candidate…
If you’re interested in building a third party, a viable third party, you don’t start with president. You don’t start by running someone for fucking president.
(via The Stranger)
As we’re all very aware by now, U.S. elections are democracy theater, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. A Hillary Clinton administration will be shitty and problematic and disappointing, but it’s way more than just marginally better than the alternative.
The way that we have been framing this debate over these last months has been dishonest if it ignores that fact.
It’s also worth considering that we won’t be worse off, necessarily, with a Clinton presidency than we have been under Obama.
Democrats are expected to take a few seats in the House and regain control of the Senate. Then there’s the issue of Supreme Court justices (who just so happen to require approval by the Senate).
One, let alone four or five, Supreme Court justices isn’t just the difference in the future of something like the Clean Power Plan. It could make the difference in a precedent that affects the next wave of badly needed measures to cut back on fossil fuels and everything that comes after.
Most people aren’t concerned about climate change because it takes place over years and decades. Those working to lessen its severity have to think in such time scales as well.
Unless this country sees some relatively massive changes in the distribution of power, we need to remember the lessons we learned this election.
The real-life version of Fascism-wrapped-in-the-flag is going to say some crazy, fucked up shit next time too. And the Democrat is going to be at least almost as disappointing. Let’s not lose sleep (or friends, or pull our hair out) over it though.
Remember, the climate fight is the one the corporate media won’t cover 24/7 (if at all).
In a recent column for the Nation, Bill Mckibben wrote:
The honeymoon won’t last 10 minutes; on November 9 we’ll be organizing for science and human rights and against the timid incrementalism that marks her approach. It’s clear that we need to beat the creepy perv she’s running against. It’s also clear that we then need to press harder than ever for real progress on the biggest crisis the world has ever faced.
*As the link notes, she has said good things about vaccinating children, but the point is that she hasn’t refuted her followers that are anti-vaccers. Climate denialism doesn’t just work if it convinces people there is no problem; it also succeeds when it tricks people into thinking the science isn’t settled…
**She wants to put a moratorium on GMOs.. It’s not a perfect platform.
***from coal, at least…