I’m not as worried about the possibility of a Trump Presidency as many of my friends.
This could be because I tend to look on the bright side. Often, my initial reaction to bad news is to think that it can’t be that bad. But this is about more than denial.
I don’t take the possibility of armed Trumpomaniacs patrolling the streets lightly. I had family members killed in the holocaust. Roy Cohn, one of the principal engineers of my parents’ frame-up and execution, was Trump’s mentor. I understand the danger of his potential Supreme Court appointments and his racist, misogynist policies. I know a Trump victory could hurt a lot of people and would never advocate voting for him.
But I’m more concerned with the underlying anti-Trump message. Supporting the “lesser evil,” because we can’t live with a Trump victory, is a tacit admission that the status quo is tolerable. It isn’t. While Trump could be deadly for more of us domestically, our current system already is toxic for hundreds-of-millions of people worldwide, and is in the process of destroying the productive capacity of the planet. Both Trump’s and Clinton’s environmental policies would be disastrous for most of the world’s population.
A willingness to vote for the status quo because Trump is worse is also a subtle form of cognitive dissonance. It is a refusal to acknowledge, or to act on the knowledge, that we are about to run out of time and so must make climate change the number one priority. Instead of confronting a longer-term, but qualitatively deadlier, environmental impact, some progressives propose we vote for Clinton, a candidate whose policies make that end result more likely, in order to avoid the more immediate sociopolitical threat of Trump. I admit this is not an easy choice, but choosing the latter over the former could be our worst mistake.
Some progressive people say it isn’t that bad. We can adjust capitalism to make it greener, a new technological breakthrough will save us or a mass movement could push a Clinton Presidency to change course. Clinton’s history of support for war, global, neo-liberal corporate control, and the fossil fuel industry, indicates the last is extremely unlikely. Science suggests that four or eight more years of Obama-style energy policies, plus incremental greening, will not save us. Capitalism, with its grow or die imperative, is not sustainable.
Other progressives reject capitalism, but insist there is no viable alternative. That’s admitting defeat. We might not succeed, but if radical change is needed, then, by definition, we must step outside of the current political framework to bring it about. We must take to heart Naomi Klein’s brilliant insight that everything has changed and act on it.
Our civilization, even our survival as a species, is at stake. Like so many who have researched this issue, I live every day with that understanding. My fear of Trump pales in comparison.
Robert Meeropol (born Robert Rosenberg in 1947) is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.
—Robert Meeropol, June 9, 2016