For many Americans, the 2016 presidential election has turned into a choice between the lesser of two evils.
Plenty of journalists, pundits, comedians, and Bernie Sanders supporters believe that there is little daylight between voting for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. As journalist and activist Chris Hedges put it, "Trump is a less polished version of the Clintons." Former representative Ron Paul said, "from a libertarian viewpoint, there is absolutely no difference, meaningful difference, between Hillary and Trump."
I do not share the opinion of these commentators. In fact, I think that the difference is quite significant; and I believe the difference is profound enough that the United States' decision could shape the future in two markedly different ways.
For me, the best case scenario in this election would be a complete and utter rejection of Donald Trump, and a fractured democratic party in office that's forced to bend to its more progressive constituents. I know, it doesn't sound great; and for many conservatives it's the opposite of best case scenario, but for me it's the only hope we've got.
Why we shouldn’t vote for Trump.
Perhaps one of the most appealing arguments against Hillary Clinton is that she is part of the establishment, a candidate who reflects everything about America that progressives and independents reject: she takes money from corporations and the one percent, and in turn advances their agendas. She is a politician above all else, changing her positions with the people's whim rather than leading. She will leave the status quo as it is and little about the country will change going forward.
These views are not unfounded. But the solution to them is not to elect the actual one percent, a man like Donald Trump. This logic, to me, is baffling: we hate the moral compass of the rich in America, so we are opposed to a woman who takes money from them. Instead, we'll vote in an actual one percenter who frequently brags and exaggerates his wealth to make a point. Am I missing something?
In fact, Trump isn't even the "anti-establishment" candidate any longer. After spending months insulting fellow Republican nominees, he is now courting them for candidacy in his office. He has fired his controversial campaign manager and begun delivering teleprompter guided speeches, two things that are sure to draw applause from the Republican establishment. Even after mocking Super-PACs for the large part of his primary campaign, Trump is now embracing them. The only issue is he has so many Super-PACs that donors don't know where to put their money.
One of the world's richest men even took to asking his supporters for an emergency fund of $100,000 dollars on Saturday, with no indication as to why he couldn't simply write the check himself.
These kinds of flip-flops should be a major concern for any true anti-establishment voter who thinks Trump is the anointed one, a candidate running on his own and for the people.
But Clinton's political expediency is also a major concern.
Frequently cited is her flip-flopping on gay marriage, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and even gun control. But in a time when political rigidness and divisiveness are at an all-time high, it doesn't take much effort to cast Clinton's political expediency in a positive light: perhaps, just maybe, she molds to the whim of her constituents. A candidate who listens to the people of America as their opinions change doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, does it?
But more than anything I want the American people to mop the floor with Donald Trump to make a point. I want us to show that we stand with the Mexican-Americans — who make up the largest immigrant group in nearly every state in the country — that he has repeatedly offended and threatened.
I want us to show our support for our nearly three million Muslim Americans, whose families seek refuge in the United States while they suffer unspeakable acts of violence and terrorism abroad. And then, in a sick twist of fate, become inextricably and inaccurately linked to the Islamic extremists they loathe.
As a Jew, I’ve had to face the rising tide of anti-semites who flood my Twitter feed in support of Donald Trump.
African Americans — who disapprove of Trump at a rate of about 94 percent — probably share my sentiment that they'd like to see proud bigots who have found a home in Trump's campaign stomped out once and for all.
But make no mistake: I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton.
Why we can hold out hope for the Democratic party.
Voting for Hillary Clinton will not be a proud moment for me, but one that will come with great hope.
Namely, hope that she exceeds my expectations and bends to the whim of the progressives and independents that have rallied behind Bernie Sanders.
If and when Hillary Clinton gets in the White House, there will be some undeniable and immediate good about her presidency. As we've reported, and as has largely fallen into the background, the historic election of a female president — whether her views align with yours or not — is in all likelihood going to inspire future generations of women to take on more leadership roles in government and business. This increased leadership will eventually mean more representation for women, which means more thought and care into women's rights.
But the guarantees about what a Clinton presidency will hold basically stop there.
Who Clinton presents herself to be and who many Americans feel she is are very different things. Clinton boasts of her foreign policy experience, but despite Americans disapproval of Trump many think he could do a better job abroad (though people abroad seem more scared of him than liberals). She claims to be a champion of minorities like African Americans and the LGBT community, but many point to evolving positions on gay marriage and the support for laws that destroyed African American communities as proof of her dishonesty.
So instead of telling you to vote for Clinton, I am going to tell you something else: vote for the Democratic party. Do I mean that corrupt, Debbie Wasserman Shultz party that many people think rigged the election against Bernie Sanders? Yes, that's the one.
You should vote for the Democratic party because — thanks to Sanders — the DNC platform has the best chance of eliciting real, positive change. If you support campaign finance reform, reigning in Wall St., supporting minority communities, increasing the minimum wage, investing in education, embracing diversity, cutting back spending on military interventionism and finding solutions to climate change, your best shot is the committee building the democratic party platform.
That committee now includes renowned scholar and activist Cornel West, Palestinian rights activist James Zogby, Minnesota representative Keith Ellison, Native American rights activist Deborah Parker, and environmental activist Bill McKibben, who were all appointed by Sanders as part of a deal with the DNC.
While presidents have ignored the commitments of a party platform committee before, the inclusion of these five progressives means Democrats will be rallying behind and running on one of the most progressive platforms in recent memory. It also means that Sanders can still impose his will on the party, namely with the leverage of his monstrous group of supporters.
As this election season showed, the proper pressure can move Clinton and her surrogates to the left on very important issues. But just as importantly, Sanders represents a middle-ground independent American voter whose positions on guns, trade and state's rights to independence are often overlooked.
On top of Sanders' DNC committee appointments, he also has the strength of his young supporters now at the front door of the Democratic party. The Washington Post reported today that more than two million voters under the age of 30 voted for Sanders in the primary elections. That's almost 500,000 more than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined.
Sanders amassed those votes by running on a similar kind of message that Trump did: the system is broken, politicians are beholden to the rich, and America has great issues that need to be addressed. The difference, though, is that Sanders was genuine in his critique; he wasn't part of the broken system, a stark difference from candidates like Trump and Clinton who have been playing big money politics for decades.
And as the young voters showed, an embracement of Sanders' message is happening. While this election might not be the overhaul many progressives wanted, putting Clinton in office will stop us from taking a step backwards. Once she's there, the fractures in the Democratic party will have to be addressed — and if the political establishment is wise, they'll listen to their ever-growing constituency of young and progressive voters.
Isaac Saul is the author of his weekly column "A Grain of Saul," a positive take on the biggest headlines. You can follow him on Twitter at @Ike_Saul