Here’s one of the many problems with having a primary season as long and played-out as the one we just dealt with: Once the nominees are set, the actual contest feels laughably short.
Here we are, nine weeks from Decision Day, and the only thing that’s clear is that American voters have learned nothing from 100-plus years of election seasons consisting primarily of broken promises, grandiose claims, arguments about nothing, issues manufactured to keep the status quo intact, and political sociopathy in all its forms from Huey Long to Donald Trump. Nine weeks out from what used to be the most important election in the world, a CNN poll gives Donald Trump a two-point lead over Hillary Clinton.
The poll itself has a margin for error higher than 2 percent and the poll is only one of many casting the electoral situation in several lights, but the question at this point should be one I’ve been asking for months: How did it ever get this close? When did Vidal vs. Buckley turn into “God Hates Fags,” “Learn English, Y’all,” “Trump That Bitch,” and “Voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage” against “Feel the Bern” and “Fuck you, fascist pig?”
Meanwhile, another startling statistic shows that in a four-party race, Secretary (and Senator, and First Lady—in case qualifications are still under scrutiny) Clinton loses even more percentage points. Even I at one point, in my post-Bernie delirium, may have toyed with the idea—even out loud, asking my girlfriend, who went cockeyed at the prospect—of voting for Jill Stein. But this kind of self-indulgence has a time and place.
Against someone who has managed to consolidate every branch of the far-right into a concentrated version of republicanism consisting of all the fascism and none of the “Party of Lincoln” merit is not the time. It is not the place. Jill Stein is a politician with whom I agree on far more issues than Hillary Clinton, but with Stein showing at around 5 percent and Clinton’s lead polling within the margin of error, a vote for Stein is a vote for an open window to authoritarianism in this country.
During his campaign, Donald Trump has called on Russia to hack his opponents. He’s praised Saddam Hussein, censorship of the press, and torture. He’s admitted to owning a copy of Hitler’s speeches, though not to ever having read a book—even the guy who actually penned the bestseller he “wrote” thinks Trump is dangerous.
Through it all, his followers have become more rabid—they’ve showed their need for more confrontation, and more elaborate forms of confrontation at that. There is no four-party solution in 2016. Multi-party solutions are for years where the barbarians aren’t battering a tree trunk into the gates—this election is a brawl.
Gary Johnson, the laughable cultist who tries to put a human face on Ayn Rand’s batshit philosophy has nearly one in 10 Americans pledged to the kind of faux-populism that will benefit the rich just as much as Trump’s Mussolini-corporatist fantasy. Jill Stein, with half that many voters in an optimistic poll, means a solid 15 percent of voters in a worst-case scenario are pledged to candidates eating away at Clinton’s vote—and Trump’s, but he’s got his base locked down by distilling the exclusionary message of the McConnell/Cantor/Ryan Republican party into its purest moonshine form.
This election isn’t just about the next four years. It’s about whether or not the idea that America can abide no monarchy, no demagoguery in its highest office, is more than just another empty campaign promise.