Friday, July 29, 2016

Voting for the Greater Good

There's been much talk these days about voting for the "lesser evil" between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Even Noam Chomsky has come out in favor of so-called LEV (lesser evil voting) in choosing Hillary in November. If you are thinking of voting Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, you are likely thinking of rejecting LEV because you don't want to vote for the lesser evil.

But allow me to change the argument for a moment. Suppose we all decide, rather than voting for a lesser evil--which unfairly demonizes both candidates--why don't we think in terms of who will be a force for the greater good?

Before I go into that, let me say that I don't think either Trump or Hillary is evil. Trump is certainly narcissistic and lacking in empathy, but I don't think his purpose in running for the presidency is to do evil, but for self-aggrandizement. Nor do I think Hillary is evil; most of the charges thrown at her (such as deliberately jeopardizing national security and Benghazi) have proven to be false. That's not to say you have to invite either of them over for dinner, but that's not the same as claiming that either of them is Lucifer (a charge Ben Carson actually leveled at Secretary Clinton).

No matter whom you support--Clinton, Trump, Stein, Johnson, or even a write in for Bernie--it's fair to say they all have character flaws. Each of them can be viewed as "evil" from an opposing political perspective. So what I am proposing is that we throw all of that invective away, and look to see which of these candidates will do the greater good for America.

Stein, Johnson, and Bernie stand no chance in this election, so it's futile to examine how they might affect this country for the good at this point. The only reasonable argument I have seen is that voting for them can be seen as a protest vote of sorts, and may help usher in a third party in the future. But none of these people can do any good for the country as it stands right now. A third party can only succeed with the emergence of a viable third party candidate, and no such person is on the horizon at the moment.

The election will come down to Trump or Clinton. So, putting personalities to the side, which one is more likely to act for the greater good of this country?

Let's start with education, as that's what this blog is supposed to be about in the main. The Democratic Party has moved more to the left of education. It supports opting out of testing and decoupling students' scores from student and teacher evaluations. It opposes for profit charters and calls for complete transparency in the operations of public charters, including making sure their populations match neighborhood demographics in terms of ELL and special needs children. It calls for supporting teachers and public schools and universal pre-K. Clinton has also called for public higher education to be free for families making 125K or less, and for restructuring student debt.

The Republicans want to continue the same voucher/charter school agenda they always have supported. They have no plans to implement pre-K, reduce student debt, or make college more affordable.

Given that neither side will likely get all they want, whose platform will do greater good for families in this country? I have no doubt it is the Democrats.

Who would do the greater good when it comes to equality in America? Clinton looks to create a pathway for illegal immigrants, while Trump seeks to deport them and build a wall separating us from Mexico. Clinton supports marriage equality while Trump looks to outlaw it. Clinton embraces diversity while Trump seeks to ban people based on their religion. If you believe in the idea that America is a land of opportunity and that our diversity gives us strength, there is little doubt which candidate will do the greater good.

When it comes to jobs, we have Clinton who wants to raise the minimum wage, while Trump wants to eliminate it. Clinton wants to invest in clean energy jobs to build a new 21st century economy, while Trump wants to put people back to work in coal mines. Which is the greater good?

When it comes to the economy, Trump wants to basically deregulate everything, including the banking industry, while Clinton wants to go beyond Dodd-Frank. The Republicans intend to reduce or eliminate corporate taxes, and to provide tax cuts for the wealthy. The Democrats want to boost the middle class by making the wealthy pay their fair share. Which is the greater good?

When it comes to national security, Trump wants to pull out of NATO and encourage nuclear proliferation in countries like Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Clinton is against proliferation and has worked to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran. Which is the greater good?

When it comes to the Supreme Court, Trump wants to appoint justices in the mold of Scalia, who would outlaw same sex marriages and a woman's right to choose. as well as support union busting court cases like Friedrichs. Clinton proposes opposition to Citizens United as a litmus test for her appointees, and seeks to uphold Roe v. Wade and marriage equality. Which is the greater good?

When it comes to health care, Trump wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with something which he has yet to define. Clinton wants to expand the ACA, supports the public option, and hopes to expand Medicare to those over 50. Which is the greater good?

If you look squarely at the issues instead of just the people proposing them, it is clear to me that a Clinton presidency would produce the greater good for the most Americans. Trump would look to move us back to the time when he felt America was great, which seems to be sometime before the civil rights movement.

There are more issues, of course, and I can't cover them all. Also, there is no guarantee that either candidate will be able to pass his or her agenda in Congress. But it seems clear to me that one candidate--Hillary Clinton--is looking to move us in the direction of the greater good, while the other is looking to push us backwards.

So let's get past the idea of which candidate is more "evil", and start looking towards which candidate will work for the greater good. If you are like me, the choice isn't even close.


ed notes online said...

Making the case for Hillary is fine with me but when it comes to educational policy naturally a comparison to Trump makes her look good but let's not shade facts. Neither the democratic party or the the AFT/UFT support opt-out and in fact do support testing - just better tests -- they use rhetoric to suck people into believing they oppose the deformers. Witness the recent Mulgrew attack on MORE for supporting opt-out.
On charters - note they carefully use the word for-proft which doesn't include voracious charters like Eva and KIPP and pretty much most charters -- they get their profit in other ways -- through admin charges and high salaries.
I may well vote for Hillary but do I believe she will change much of Obama's disastrous policies on ed? In this case the Dems are only the lesser of 2 evils but not by all that much -- note their stars - Booker who allied with Christie to cripple pub ed in Newark and Cuomo -- show me one Dem that really stands with us.
Republicans kill Obama on everything - except ed - they all believe in that phony cover - choice.

Mr. Talk said...

I'll start by saying that it's quite fair to compare Trump to Clinton as they are the only two people who have a chance to be elected. But even leaving out that comparison, the Democratic platform really does make advances that teachers can get behind. It does support opt-out. It advocates an end to using high stakes tests to evaluate teachers. These things are actually in the party platform whether Mulgrew likes it or not. Will these things get implemented? Who knows? But I do know that Randi herself pushed to get these things into the platform--why do that unless she actually intends to push for them if Hillary is elected? It's not as if Hillary needs the endorsement of the unions, because she has that already. They could have left the platform without these items and Hillary would still have gotten Randi's support, so that says something to me.

Mike Pence will actually be in charge of most policy issues--let's face it, Trump will rely on him for most things--and Pence is a strong supporter of vouchers, charters schools, and even spends MORE money on charter school kids than public school kids in Indiana. He is also unabashedly opposed to unions.

While the Democratic platform is not perfect, it addresses many of our major concerns. The charter language is strong but not perfect, but was there really any expectation that it would call for an elimination of charters?

Of course a platform is not policy. It's up to us to hold a Clinton administration's feet to the fire. But the fact that Randi pushed for these changes and got them argues for the idea that, now that she finally make have that seat at the table and the ear of the president, she is looking to move to the left on education policy--one that has outraged the people at DFER.

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