Gandhi’s Achilles heal, when debates of such matters arise, was his support of the British during World War II. Churchill despised Gandhi, and if you got Bapu off message, he’d probably return the favor. And yet, Gandhi supported the violent empire whose boot was on his own throat, against a greater evil.
Alas, we face Gandhi’s choice in 2016.
A choice between two evils is all that remains of American democracy after Clinton neoliberalism unleashed capitalism from the New Deal for its victory lap over the Warsaw Pact. Market nirvana’s excrement, Donald Trump, is capitalist resin scraped from the bottom of the bowl, an untaxed billionaire race baiting his way into another scam. Hillary Clinton is the enabler that created Trump, her entire public life defined by fealty to capital so thorough her picture at Trump’s wedding is the single most enduring image of this “election”. Today, the market stands so triumphant over the state, every decision we make as humans is now a calculation of money, rather than a human decision about fellow humans. The 1% laughs all the way to the bank, every time.
I have very personal reasons to never vote for another Democrat for as long as I live, let alone Hillary Clinton. I haven’t written much about those reasons lately, but as anyone knows who’s followed my writing since I took this battle online in 2004, I’ve lived, and still do, with Clinton neoliberalism’s boot on my neck. As an ex-offender, my life has been governed by the economic calculation the market makes about employment for 15 years. I’ve been reduced to nothing but a high cost, high risk, phantom forecast of doom imagined in the minds of people who see not a human before them, but instead conjure a paranoia about a penny or a nickel perhaps fleeing them one day. It took me a very long time to figure out that even the people closest to me surrendered my humanity, and theirs, to a money calculation. As Cornel West wrote this week, America has been in this spiritual decline for so long, a Clinton-Trump choice between two evils of capital was inevitable.
Thus, I’m done shaming the 2000 Nader voter, or the 2016 Stein voter. Further, I can no longer condemn the non-voter as I once did. Refusal to grant legitimacy by your vote to a system rigged for capital is entirely defensible and reasonable. Since my deep dive into Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and through my volunteering for Bernie Sanders this primary, I’ve tried to live by Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, and encourage everyone around me to do so as well. My first instinct this fall was to refuse to vote as such an exercise, in protest that voting in America today, at every single level of government, is a rigged game for the sole benefit of capital.
But I’m haunted by my Armenia work from 1997-1999; my friend Harout used to tell his fellow Armenians who asked “why vote?”, that the authorities would know how to use their vote if they didn’t use it. Haunted by my days as Democracy Guy, traveling the world with a camera. Fifteen years spent as debris of this rigged game confronted who I am to my core. I spent much of the last few months a proud non-voter. It was a relief to not invest my vote in this stench that was choking me every single day.
Donald Trump tipped the scale. I flirted with voting for Trump. As Michael Moore says, Trump is the perfect Molotov cocktail to toss into this sickening rigged system. But one cannot escape that Trump, and his base, are who my grandmother would have become had she been force fed a twenty year 24 hour live feed of hate upon which Trump now stands. Trump rallies are filled with the zombie undead shells of humanity my Grandma Krakowski escaped becoming. Hate today is a billion dollar market sucking humanity out of our loved ones for profit, to the point they now prance around in public on social media revealing their deepest ugliness for all to see, praising their own darkest weaknesses as America’s greatest strength. Our loved ones are Trump’s clickbait racist business model, making us love them less.
Conversely, Gandhian nonviolent civil disobedience is built on love. And as Gandhi so often taught, it is tactical. Supporting Britain in World War II was Gandhi’s most controversial tactic; within 2 years of the war, Britain would be gone from Gandhi’s homeland. Who knows where America will be in two years? Bernie Sanders took a lot of heat for standing by his word, and endorsing Hillary Clinton as the “winner” of the Democratic primary. I wonder if Bernie is finding strength in Gandhi too. Next year, I fully expect Bernie to be the same thorn in Madame President’s side that Gandhi was to His Majesty.
So if it’s good enough for Gandhi, it’s good enough for me. I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton in tribute to Gandhi, who supported his oppressor two years before he defeated his oppressor once and for all. To my friends voting for Trump…no. Change does not come by hate, only love. Anger must be righteous to bring justice. This Tuesday, first, we must defeat Donald Trump, and everything he stands for, to let the Republican Party sleep in the fire Trump’s Molotov cocktail is exploding. On Wednesday, we can let Madame President know we haven’t gone anywhere.