I Voted for Trump in ‘92

… and I didn’t even know it.

Photo by rob walsh on Unsplash

In 1992, I was working for Martin Marietta. I was miserable, but I had been conditioned to believe that the problems I was having were tied to my own inadequacy. I was designing space electronics for a massive arms supplier. I had no college degree but I had a history. As a result, I had picked up this gig as an electronics engineer in aerospace. I was liberal but not yet progressive. I agreed with Bill Clinton. I believed that poor people were poor because they were lazy. I believed that rich people were rich because they were a thousand times better and more disciplined than I was.

As a result, I voted for Bill Clinton for president. I thought I was making the world better by holding undisciplined poor people to account and rewarding the magical captains of industry who provided jobs for the undeserving masses like me. I, for some reason I can no longer comprehend, was entirely on board with that. In fact, my vote was actually telling the Democratic Party that their constituents were entirely OK with keeping rich people rich and keeping poor people in their place. The middle class was OK as long as we didn’t get rowdy.

The Clinton presidency was everything a modern Republican would want. It limited the resources available to the poor while continuing the Reagan policy of allowing any company to form a monopoly, leaving small companies to fend for themselves. He signed NAFTA which exported millions of U.S. jobs to other countries and promoted slavery and worker oppression in those countries. He also signed the Defense of Marriage Act which assured that gay people were second class citizens. In other words, he was one of our best Republican presidents. To be fair, he reduced restrictions on abortion accompanied by a nearly 20% reduction in abortions. He advocated a 1.2% increase in taxes on the wealthy, which undoubtedly caused them a slight discomfort and implemented “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, an absolutely minimal and deeply timid response to military discrimination. He also nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. So, yeah, some decent social concessions were thrown to folks like me but major economic concessions were delivered to his rich benefactors.

In 1996, I confirmed my earlier vote for Bill Clinton. In that second term the pattern continued to emerge, SCHIP provided support for poor children while the Financial Services Modernization Act freed up millions to help the wealthy continue sequestering money that could have been used to keep families from needing SCHIP. At this point the Democratic and Republican Parties were absolutely clear on the message I was sending: corporations should rule and poor people should be exploited. Both parties were beginning to see a common ground. The neoliberal strategy of the new Democrats was not really that different from the neoconservative strategy of the recent Republicans. We were beginning to see an odd sort of synergy.

While Al Gore had good ideas regarding climate change, he too was a neoliberal. He made his appeals to corporations to be better corporate citizens believing, as do all neowhatevers, that corporations are basically good and will do the right thing like any other legal person. The appeal was impotent because he was unable to demonstrate how doing the right thing for the environment would sweeten the corporate bottom line over the near future. In other words, Al Gore was a pitiful dupe of the corporatist propaganda. He was not an inspiring candidate, but I voted for him anyway. As soon as the Republican Organization, by now fundamentally corrupted by the Kochs and Newt Gingrich, acquired an advantage, Gore’s campaign folded like the only amateur at the table. They gave up even though the Supreme Court’s opinion was acrid stool water and a challenge to the opinion by revolutionary legislators and states would have been a start at halting the ongoing corruption of that body.

Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election (a very common pattern of late). The Democrats were, on balance, better than the Republicans, but they were about the stupidest possible “better”. They appeared to be losing against imbeciles but the imbeciles were part of a larger well-crafted strategy of influence and corruption. W took us into a couple of pointless wars resulting in over a half million violent deaths and wasted taxpayer money on military contractors and incompetent tactics. He continued the Republican strategy of freeing the wealthy and their projects to do as they pleased without regard to their effects on the economy or the American worker.

John Kerry was one of the least interesting neoliberals in my experience, and yet, what choice did I have? I needed to stop the wars! I held my nose and voted for Kerry, again informing the Democratic Party that I was happy to serve corporate masters as long as I was doing so under a Democrat. In W’s inevitable second term, the myth of smaller government was combined with expanded surveillance of the American people exposing the inner choices of private citizens to the prying eyes of both government and industry for the purposes of control and exploitation. In short, the Federal government continued to become smaller for the privileged and much larger for the rest of us.

By the year 2007, the Democrats at least provided a half way interesting neoliberal. Barack Obama was an admitted conservative who, true to form, oversaw a delicately nuanced set of policies and proposals that edged in the direction of liberalism without hindering the Republican machine too seriously. The Affordable Care Act was better than what the U.S. population had had up until then, but it was a far cry from what the public was demanding. It was a generous give-away to private insurance without any provisions requiring state compliance. Offering free money to ideologue governors proved worthless in regressive southern states which later became hotbeds for the Trump revolution. Since the Republican organization had been so successful in promoting election fraud and a compliant news media, Obama was stymied. His natural tendency to trust Republicans to negotiate with him in good faith made it impossible for him to successfully promote any further useful legislation. His second term demonstrated that even conservative Republican-friendly proposals had no hope of success. His conservative Republican-approved Supreme Court nominee was simply ignored by a Senate that no longer felt the need to even pretend at competence or duty.

And then came Trump

I threw up in my mouth a little as I voted for Hillary Clinton as did a majority of Americans. We Democrats did what we’ve always done and lo and behold we got exactly what we always get, a very disappointing result. Trump is not an anomaly — he is everything the Republican Organization has been working for. He is the ultimate Republican success story. As I am being asked to vote again for the next ineffective Democratic neoliberal, I have come to realize that every one of my Democratic votes has been a vote for Donald Trump. By encouraging the Democratic Party to continually move to the right and to continue to support the wealthy and privileged while ignoring the problems endemic to this failed system, I have made it impossible for a progressive party to prosper.

I unwittingly voted for Donald Trump in 1992 and continued to cooperate with the long-term Republican strategy until their goal could finally be reached. Make no mistake, though, Trump is merely an interim goal. Their next presidential candidate will be even worse. I see a Republican presidential progression from W to Trump to Ted Nugent to Rocky Suhayda to a particularly annoyed rabid pit bull.

A vote for Trump is a vote for Trump with the remote possibility of a chastised Democratic Party providing a progressive option in four years. A vote for Biden is a vote for this continuing downward spiral, resulting eventually in President Nugent and the ultimate environmental collapse that will simply wipe-out the human stain. A vote for the Green candidate is a vote for nothing because third parties have been locked out of this system for decades. How many times do Democrats intend to do the same thing they’ve always done and expect a different result?

Listen, Democrats: doing the same thing over and over will simply result in this nightmare continuing. We must stop focusing on the Presidency for now. We must attempt to correct what can actually be corrected. Regardless the President, we must put the Congress (Senate and House) into progressive, activist hands. Only a progressive Congress will have the power to make laws that correct this fundamentally broken system: laws that remove the excessive powers of the President, outlaw gerrymandering, reform taxation and enforce limitations on monopolies. Only a progressive Congress can restructure the Supreme Court and impeach incompetent judges.

Stop playing into the hands of the Republicans by following the instructions of your Democratic leaders. Face it, it doesn’t matter any more who is President. It will be up to a progressive Congress to re-establish its legislative authority and bring the Presidency to account. It will be up to a progressive Congress to reject incompetent Supreme Court nominees and repeal the ongoing abuses permitted under The Patriot Act.

Let us focus on correcting this system, a process only possible through legislation and Congressional action. We have demonstrated that we can bring progressive leaders into Congress. Let us continue that work with fervor and demand that our Congress correct the systemic malfeasance of the past decades. Then we can worry about electing a competent President.

Julian S. Taylor is the author of Famine in the Bullpen a book about bringing innovation back to software engineering.
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Also available in ebook and audio formats at Sockwood Press.

This work represents the opinion of the author only.

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