Pragmatism

— Trump Is The Revolution Against The Establishment

— Still with her? LOL you should be fitted for an orange jumpsuit

— […] can’t understand why a supposing military man would even vote for Hellary who murder 4 american heros and see them tortured by arab scums for hours and she says *who even cares??!” kind of makes you wnder if you really r a veteran hmmm?!

— You think you are a good blogger and youre funny with insults arent you but libs just cant stop with the personal insults because you have no moral center without G*D Only a G*D hating fag lib would vote for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Libs should be thrown in prison oar a mental hospital! SICK!

— Hillary is a loser. Trump is a billionare what does Killary have? That’s right nothing not even Bill! EVERY REAL POLL SHOWS TRUMP WINNING THE BLACKS! PS. and I’m not white so just sto pwith the racists ok?

— MR WRONG YOUR ATTACKS ON JILL STEIN ARE DISGUSTING! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE! UNFOLLOW!

— I simply can’t understand why somebody of your background would vote for Hillary Clinton.

— Answer these questions if you can  […] don’t you WANT America to be great? If so why not? Why do liberals hate America and tear it down? Why do you hate Christians who built this great country and want to give it to the muslim cult? Are YOU a muslim paedophile? Think about it!

Welcome to my inbox.

Here Donald Trump is a revolutionary.

And Hillary Clinton is a Wall Street tool.

Trump is the candidate of law and order, secure borders, and small government.

Clinton is the candidate of bankers and foreign interests, Allah and atheists, and the New World Order.

Only a traitor would vote for Clinton.

Patriots, warriors, true Americans vote for Trump.

According to my email, if you vote for Clinton it’s because you hate America. Or you hate the Christian God. Or you’re sick in the head. Or you’re a criminal yourself. Or an illegal alien. Or a fake veteran. Or the real racists who keep “the blacks” from raising themselves up by their own bootstraps. Or maybe you just don’t like self-made billionaires.

Trump is rich and successful, brutally frank and honest, he says it like it is. He’s a man of God.

Clinton is a criminal and a lying bitch and a murderer who hates the military.

Also, for variety, there’s Jill Stein and that Johnson guy, Gary, Gerry, Larry, something like that.

Over the last several months, as this horrifically horrendous horrifying election season has careened wildly out of control towards November like a burning prison bus slathered in raw sewage and filled beyond capacity with gleefully capering clowns frantically squirting their little seltzer bottles and honking their little horns with mad abandon unconcerned as they hurtle willy-nilly ever closer to the cliff edge, my inbox has grown increasingly frantic with panic and accusations and naked greased insanity dressed up like Napoleon decked out in a Hitler moustache and wearing giant pink bunny slippers and a propeller beanie.

But, underneath all of that is a legitimate question.

 

Why would somebody like me vote for Hillary Clinton?

 

That’s not a rhetorical question.

You see, I’m a stereotypical conservative.

Or a least I should be.

I’m male.

I’m white.

I’m straight.

I’m a veteran.

I make a decent living.

I believe in the promise of the Declaration.

I swore my life in defense of the Constitution.

I believe that the only truly inalienable right is the right to define yourself.

I should be a conservative because everything in this society is tilted in my favor and I should want to keep it that way.

I should be a conservative because by inclination I tend towards the traditional conservative values of personal liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, personal enterprise and free markets, balanced budgets, strong military, and self-reliance. Hell, look at me. I couldn’t look any more the traditional conservative if I channeled the staid and buttoned-down ghost of William F. Buckley himself.

I should be a conservative because my childhood was the 1960s. I came of age at the end of the 70s. I was raised in a conservative Republican household in a predominately white Christian conservative Republican Midwestern town surrounded by the traditionally conservative Republican professions of factories and farming.  The soundtrack of my youth was Johnny Cash and the Grand Ole Opry and we never missed a John Denver or Donny and Marie Christmas special. I was a Boy Scout. My heroes wore white shirts and ties, they were serious frowning men with brush cuts who smoked Pall Malls, they were the scientists and the engineers and the astronauts who built and flew the rockets and got America to the moon and safely home again. My dad was a veteran of Korea and I respected the tall fit dangerous men who wore the uniform of America and went to fight in Southeast Asia and I had little use for the dirty unemployed hippies who smelled of burning rope and shouted from the street corners protesting The War and The Man and The Establishment and who sang silly songs about the Age of Aquarius.

After high school, when it became apparent I had neither the aptitude nor the money for college, nor the desire to shovel cow manure or work on a factory line, I joined the military. It wasn’t a popular choice at the time, earning you scorn from liberals and conservatives alike – albeit for different reasons. Vietnam was only four years behind us and you had to go to the worst parts of town to find a recruiting station. And in fact, the Military Entrance Processing Station in Detroit where I went for my induction physical via Greyhound bus from Grand Rapids was in the bottom two stories of an old burned out hotel surrounded by drug pushers and prostitutes and bombed out buildings. Inside, the walls were peeling yellow paint and the place stank of urine and mildew. The uniformed men who worked there had seen hard service in the jungles and rice paddies and they held new recruits in the kind of sneering contempt it takes years to master and even they thought we must be the dregs indeed to join up. Youreally had to want to enlist. Now, I’d like to say I joined up out of a sense of patriotism or to serve my country or for freedom and democracy or some other such lofty conservative ideal, or at least the pragmatism of an education and salable job skills, but mostly it was just a way to get the hell out of my suffocating hick town and see something of the world. Also I had the vague idea military men got a lot of girls. And it was that, but it also eventually became the first part too. My enlistment turned into a career, a college degree, a marriage, a son, the very best of friends, unusual and unique skills, incredible experiences, three wars, and finally an officer’s commission. And during the two and half decades I spent in uniform the military went from being hated and despised, the refuge of scoundrels and losers and alcoholics in the public perception, to a professional volunteer force of America’s very best. And there is no more a concentration of conservative ideals than the military. We are conservatives both by definition and by practice. Adherence to discipline, tradition, doctrine, order, accountability, conformity, authority, service, sacrifice, patriotism, and a powerful resistance to change, these are the very traits which define both military life and traditional conservatism. I spent nearly my entire adulthood living up to those ideals, I was damned good at it and I have the scars and decorations to prove it.

I retired from the military to a conservative red state and then moved to an even more conservative red state. My friends are conservatives. My family are conservatives. My acquaintances are conservatives.

I did consulting work for the military, but eventually I became a full time writer and an artist. These days I’m a self-employed small business owner who resents the hell out the hefty check I send to the IRS every three months. It’s true that as a disabled veteran and a military retiree I get a stipend from the government each month, but it’s not nearly enough to live on and it’s not nearly enough to pay for all the damage that was done to my body over decades of service. I can get lousy medical care at the VA if I’m willing to stand in line for a few months, or I can pay a large deductible for Tricare and hope to find a decent doctor who will take it. I pay more to cover my family and I pay out of pocket the full cost of dental insurance which military retirement doesn’t cover.  And even if I do everything just right, the government can (and does) change the rules arbitrarily to renege on the promises they made back when America was desperate for my service and I was foolish enough to believe.

As a writer I have no idea if I’ll make enough to survive each month – let alone pay for my son’s college tuition and take care of my mother-in-law who lives with us due to medical issues.

I’ve fetched up for now in the Panhandle of Florida, unlikely ever to return to my beloved Alaska. I’m surrounded by the welfare state. Lack is what defines this place, lack of education, lack of decent jobs, lack of basic healthcare, lack of opportunity, and most of all lack of dreams. Nevertheless, they are a fiercely proud people and the Civil War still smolders just below the surface. Here in my adopted homeland they hold their religion and their guns and their families close. Passionate about their heritage and their history, they raise the banner of the Confederacy alongside the American flag and they honor both. Their anthem is Sweet Home Alabama and they play it loud and woe to the man who fails to render proper respect. Here they speak fervidly of state’s rights, self determination, and liberty. They hold on to their traditions hard, what traditions they have left anyway.  And it’s easy to see that government has long ago failed the citizens here in the Old South and while the American Dream might not be entirely dead, you’d have to be a fool to believe you have much of a shot at it.

And so that’s me. That’s who I am. That’s where I come from and where I live.

 

So why would a guy like me vote for Hillary Clinton?

 

Why indeed.

Well, you see, it’s not just about voting for a particular candidate.

No candidate, especially a candidate for President of the United States, comes free of political entanglements and political influence and political obligation and political money or a questionable past. Not today, not ever. Any politician who tells you they are free of such is either deluded or lying directly to your face and if you believe them, well, then you deserve everything you get.

Clinton is as much – or as little – a part of the machine as is any other candidate stretching all the way back to George Washington himself, who in addition to being part of the military was a wealthy businessman and consummate politician and just as obligated to those who put him into power as any elected public servant is today. This is why I have to suppress a laugh when Bernie Sanders supporters earnestly tell me Bernie isn’t a Washington insider. Sanders was first elected to Congress in 1991, he’s the longest serving Independent in US history. If he’snot an insider, if he’s not a career politician after nearly 30 years in Washington, then he’s doing something seriously wrong. Now, I don’t mean this as an insult, to either Sanders or his supporters, I’m simply saying any candidate for the highest office in the land comes with more than just his or her toothbrush and charming smile. This is why I laugh outright when Trump supporters tell me The Donald is an outsider, that he’s the “revolution against the establishment.” That’s hilarious. You don’t get to be a billionaire New York real-estate developer and an Atlantic City casino owner and an international golf-course resort mogul and the star of a TV-Reality show without being connected to power and money, seriouslyconnected, without being an insider, without being a politician. Donald Trump isn’t a revolution against the establishment, he is the establishment and to suggest otherwise is either ironically hilarious or dangerously deluded – perhaps both. The belief that Donald Trump is somehow going to bring about a “revolution” against the very power and the very influence and the very wealth and the very privilege that literally defines every fiber of his being is quite literally the definition of insanity.

But none of that defines why I would vote for Hillary Clinton.

 

It’s not enough to vote against something or someone, you have to believe in something too.

 

I don’t like Clinton.

I never have.

It’s a personal distaste. It’s visceral. Perhaps it’s my small town Midwestern upbringing with its inherent suspicion of big city elitism. Perhaps it’s my military background; the Clintons were never popular with the military for some reasons they deserve and many they don’t. Unfair? Sure. But that’s just how it was … and still is. Perhaps it’s that she and I have little in common. Perhaps it’s that I often find her manner irritating, her voice grates on my nerves, and for me her jokes often fall flat. Perhaps it’s that I don’t find Hillary Clinton to be inspiring the way Barack Obama is, or charismatic in the manner of Ronald Reagan, or imbued with great vision like John F. Kennedy.  Perhaps it’s that I don’t much like her friends – particularly Henry Kissinger, a man I hold in utter contempt and would like to see die in prison for the 20,000 Americans who died in Vietnam for his vainglory.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t like her husband. Oh, settle down, I can admire Bill Clinton’s intelligence and compassion, his easy likability, his personable style, the fact that he left office with the country far better off than when he first swore the oath. But I wouldn’t want to have a beer with him. I don’t admire those who step out on their spouses, who are raging hard-ons, who can’t keep their pants zipped, and I’ve known plenty such in the military. It is my experience that no matter how gifted professionally they might be, their lack of integrity with those they supposedly hold most dear means I could never trust them at my back. What I’m saying is that I might admire Bill Clinton the President, but I don’t have much use for Bill Clinton the man – and that’s important, because we’re going to come back to it shortly.

So why would I vote for Hillary Clinton?

And I am voting for Hillary Clinton come November 8th and make no mistake about it.

Yes, I am. Enthusiastically and with gusto and I encourage you all to do the same.

And yes, November 8th. I’ve made a conscious decision to go to the physical polls on election day here in the land of black democrats and white republicans. I’m not voting early. I want to see for myself without filter. I want to experience it first hand. I want to face the armed Redshirts for myself – if they indeed show up. And if necessary, stand with those who would be intimidated and fight alongside them if it comes down to it. And that’s part of it right there, part of the reason. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Why am I voting for Hillary Clinton?

Why would I vote enthusiastically for a candidate I personally dislike?

Why would I vote for a person who appears counter to my background and experience?

Why indeed.

Because I’m not voting for just Hillary Clinton.

Because I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton the person.

Because, despite first appearances, she and I have far more in common than we don’t and I can prove it.

And most importantly because pragmatically I must acknowledge Hillary Clinton and the power structure she represents is far and away the best choice to defend the ideals I hold most dear – those ideals I mentioned up above at the start of this essay, the ones I swore my life to defend, chief among them personal liberty and the right to define yourself – that is: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans, each and every single one.

I’m not just voting for Hillary Clinton, I’m voting against Donald Trump and most especially the hateful ideology he has come to represent.

 

Because it’s not enough to just believe, you have to stand steadfast against the fall of night too.

 

I cannot vote for a Republican.

Not even one I respect should such appear.

It’s not just Donald Trump. Or Mitt Romney before him. Or John McCain before that. I cannot, will not, vote for the Republican Party platform.

Up above I said I tend towards the traditional conservative values of personal liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, personal enterprise and free markets, balanced budgets, strong military, and self-reliance.  All of that is true and as such there is no part of 2016 Republican Party Platform I can support without question, without violent protest.

Social issues? Tell me why a party who professes a profound belief in personal liberty and individual freedom and inalienable rights should contain within its ideology strictures regarding who you can marry, who you can love, what you can do with your own body, how you define your sexuality, how you define yourself. I will never vote for a Republican so long as they support the idea that government and political parties and religion have the right, nay the duty, to dictate these most personal of freedoms. I will never support a political party or a candidate who would deny full and unrestricted rights in any way whatsoever to my friends who happen to be gay, or transgendered, or of color, or female, or Muslim, or whatever ridiculous qualifications we use to deny others full citizenship. I will not. And so long as these things remain part of the Republican Party platform, no matter the bullshit justification, they are deal breakers so far as my vote is concerned. Even if they field a candidate I can enthusiastically admire.

Economics? Thirty years now the Republican Party has embraced the failed policies of Reaganomics. Thirty years we’ve been waiting for the promised largess to trickle down. Thirty years we’ve been fed the idea that the selfish ideology of Ayn Rand will somehow make us, the worthy, rich – even though Rand herself died in lonely poverty dependent on government and the kindness of strangers. Thirty years we’ve given tax breaks to the obscenely wealthy and watched them grow ever more obscenely rich while the Middle Class teeters ever closer to extinction. Thirty years now we’ve watched our jobs head overseas while serial CEOs rake in billions. Invest in America they say, and it’s our money and our homes and our jobs and our retirements and our kids’ college funds they vaporize while they themselves cash out to the tune of millions and then complain about tax dollars going to bail out citizens “who should have known better.” Known better than to trust another goddamned Republican I guess. And they’re not even ashamed to say it out loud, as Donald Trump himself said when he smugly blamed Hillary Clinton for the loopholes that have allowed him to get away with not paying taxes for the last two decades.  I will not support further tax breaks for the rich on the backs of the middle class and the poor.  I will not vote for another Republican so long as this provably unworkable economic policy is part of their platform. This alone is enough to lose my vote.

Military matters? Foreign policy? Immigration? I spent most of my life in the uniform of the United States. I’ve seen war and the consequences of war up close. I listened in awe with tears in my eyes when Ronald Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and demanded in righteous fury, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” and I can not, will not, support a political party who intends to wall America off from the world behind mine fields and barbed wire. I can not, will not, support a party who declares its unqualified uncritical allegiance to a foreign power, even one such as Israel, especially for religious reasons.  I can not, will not, support an ideology that condemns peace and diplomacy out of hand and who salivates at the idea of yet another war. This alone would be enough to lose my vote.

There is no part, not one single part, of the Republican platform I can support.

This is not personal liberty or personal responsibility, not when government decides who you can marry, who you can love, or what you do with your own body. Their idea of limited government is limiting the very things government should exist for because if government does not protect the weak from the predatory then what damned good is it? A belief in personal enterprise and free markets does not mean I think capitalism should run amok, unchecked, unregulated, benefitting only the rich and repeatedly raping those without the power to protest. The republicans make a great show of balanced budgets but would find their frugality on the backs of the poor and I will not support a political ideology who thinks tanks and aircraft carriers and war are acceptable ways to spend our money while feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and healing the sick are not.

In the final analysis I can not, will not, support a party who hates government so much so that they attempt to break it at every turn.

And this is the party that is supposed to hold Donald Trump in check?

That would be  laughable if it wasn’t so utterly horrifying.

Hillary Clinton is not my preferred candidate. She is not perfect. She is not without flaw.  Far from it in fact.

But I will vote for her and I will do so enthusiastically because while I might not like Hillary the Person, I think Hillary the President will be a politician I can respect. Because she is the face of a political party that while I might not agree with everything they stand for, defends the rights of my friends and is willing to put it in writing. Because they are a party who believes in diplomacy over war, science over religion, pragmatism over unchecked capitalism. Who ultimately believes in the values I grew up with and who I can trust to hold her to the fire.

Even if I didn’t believe in the candidate, I can support the party platform – even if its not everything I want.

Even if I didn’t support the party, I can believe in the candidate – even if she’s far from perfect.

 

In the end, you must be pragmatic enough to realize “liberal” and “conservative” are just words without any real meaning and true freedom is not allowing those empty words to dictate your choices.

In the end, you must hold fast to what you believe in and you must be honest enough with yourself to know what those things truly are.

You must look beyond the words and the ideology and stand steadfast against the fall of night, for if government does not, can not, will not, protect the helpless from the ruthless then what goddamned good is it?

You ask why someone like me would vote for Hillary Clinton?

You ask why someone like me would stand with the Democrats?

You ask why someone like me, a white man of privilege and traditional conservative values, someone this entire country is designed for, would go to the polls and stand against armed men in defense of those who owe me nothing and who very likely hold me in contempt?

Because in the end I am not a slave to my past.

Because in the end we must do whatever it is we cannot not do.

Because in the end we all must choose which side of history we’re on.

And if you don’t like my choice, then you should have have given me better options.

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