To Leave the Future Open: On the False "Choices" of Election 2016

Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at Camden County College in Blackwood, N.J., May 11, 2016. (Photo: Richard Perry / The New York Times) Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey, May 11, 2016. (Photo: Richard Perry / The New York Times)  

“To believe in something not yet proved and to underwrite it with our lives; it is the only way we can leave the future open.”– Lillian Smith, “The Journey”

Something’s hidden behind the curtain of the looming 2016 presidential election that the national leaders of both entrenched political parties don’t want us to see.

It’s the future.

Not just the near future, but the one that will ripple on into history, the one that will do so much to define the age in which we’re living. It’s the ideas and vision that will frame and shape and animate that future, which has two possible trajectories. One future undermines possibilities for starting to dismantle structural forms of racial, gender, economic, and disability-related violence and for realizing a much truer exercise of democracy while the other strengthens them.

That’s why I’m #notwithher when I cast my vote in November 2016.

I’ve already said publicly I will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she’s the nominee of the Democratic Party. This is not a decision made lightly.

But it is the only right decision for me.

Not long ago, I promised to say more about my own choice, so I offer this reflection. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind, and I’m not trying to. But this is no ordinary election year; political, financial, and ecological systems are all in various stages of crisis and collapse. I hope what I say here is useful to some as we think not only about specific candidates and the election but also beyond them.

The violence I’m speaking of here is the “normal” violence of mainstream American institutions. Michael Bronski and I have recently written a book about such violence (Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics) which is widespread and massive. It kills swiftly and through the systemic diminution of life chances…

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