This sort of brazen banana-republic goonishness is why I won’t even consider voting for, say, Gary Johnson, unless Hillary’s polling ahead by 20 points in my state, and why you shouldn’t either.
I’m picking up a troubling sense that decades of partisan slagging on Clinton have made it hard for a lot of people who care about freedom, on both the left and the right, to support her. Well, get over it, babies. You’ve been underestimating how well our democracy does in fact protect our freedom. Maybe you’re convinced that it hardly protects our rights at all. That’s understandable. Under normal circumstance, if you want things to get better, you’ve got to draw attention to how bad things are, not to how well our democracy does work, considering. But it does work pretty well, considering, and that’s a huge blessing that we take for granted at our peril. Just take a look at the way this would-be despot threatens to censor the political speech and expropriate the property of perceived political opponents. We’re as rich and free as we are because that kind of stuff happens here a lot less than it might, and a lot less than it does in some other place, and one of the reason that’s the case is that we’ve historically considered it WAY out of bounds for potentially powerful political figures to threaten to stomp the shit out of the rights of their rivals.
Decent institutions aren’t magic. Good black-letter rules help, but they don’t make institutions work like algorithms make computers work. People following the rules, even when nobody’s looking, is what makes institutions work. People sticking to the spirit of the norms that underpin the rules, even when the rules technically allow this or that sort of bad behavior, is what makes institutions work. Healthy political culture makes them work. Well, Donald Trump is waging an onslaught on that culture. The man’s straight ebola to the American body politic. And we’re the immune system, people. We have a job, as American T-cells, and that’s to reject this virulence, and protect our political culture, such as it is, with the greatest possible collective force. The best way to do that is to help Hillary Clinton win this November in a momentous landslide.
Don’t like her? Hate her? Get over it, babies. Fighting for freedom and justice right now means limiting the damage this thug is doing to the norms that make everything else possible. It means scrambling to preserve our sort-of-shitty but also pretty good institutions. Hillary Clinton is basically a living manifestation of America’s prevailing political culture. Plenty shitty—warmongering, more than a touch corrupt—but also a competent, reasonable, relatively decent, public-spirited creature of America’s one non-imploding establishment political party. If you like freedom or social justice, or anything else this side of satanic chaos, your job is not only to vote for Hillary Clinton, but to stand up and say that you’re going to, loud and proud, in a way that communicates that you expect other decent Americans to do the same.
Maybe you’re a libertarian and you’re really into just how outrageously dumb voters are, have recently unlocked the mysteries of the political universe with your iron grasp of the logic of diffuse costs and concentrated benefits, believe that voting is complicity with state violence, and that Hillary Clinton’s just the worst kind of transactional log-rolling technocrat. Awesome. You know what? You’re right. Vote for Hillary Clinton. Or maybe you’re a progressive who thinks Citizens United consolidated the grip of the oligarchs and everything’s rigged against the people and the powerless, millions of whom suffer as we speak, and that Hillary’s in the pocket of problem—that she is the problem. Correct. Hillary Clinton is the problem. Vote for Hillary Clinton. FoxNews devotee who would rather blind yourself with the sharp end of an anti-Planned Parenthood picket than vote for HilLIEry? I get it. You love America. So vote for Hillary Clinton.
There is no partisan or ideological divide on the urgent necessity to maintain a baseline level of decency in our political culture. At this point, a crushing landslide for Hillary Clinton is the best we can do to protect it. This isn’t just a practical act of political self-defense. It’s a symbolic act of cultural assertion. Now is not the time for tender conscience and expressive individual participation (or non-participation). Now is the time for grudging but resolute solidarity and powerfully expressive collective participation. We need to put our individually insignificant pebbles in a pile and build a mighty wall against comb-over authoritarianism. Heave your pebble with double-hot hatred at Hillary next time. We need to suck it up, come together, and do something for our country. Nobody said fighting ebola’s fun.
HILLARY CLINTON 2016!!!!! #imwithher
[NB: This is an entirely personal message and should not be construed as reflecting the views of the National Football League.]