I'm posting some links here, not knowing how much longer they will be available for browsing. As of today, most of them are linked on jill2016.com/recount.
LA Times Op-Ed: Recounts should be the norm, not the exception
Nick Sharp, medium.com: What I saw at the Michigan recount
AlterNet: It Doesn't Take a Foreign Government to Hack into Our Flimsy Election System
jill2016.com's Response to NYT Aricle: Recount Rules 'Arcane and Confusing,' a 'Political Horrow Show'...
jill2016.com: Hundred Protest in Detroit: 'Fight Goes On' to Protect Voting Rights, Reform Election System
Was It Worth It?
People will extract a variety of lessons from Jill Stein's attempts to get the votes recounted in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Most of those lessons will be conclusions drawn from incomplete and inaccurate information, of which there has been a plethora in the past few weeks. This is all piled on top of the bogus information already in circulation before the recount push began.
Now that legal roadblocks may have driven the final nail into the effort in Michigan and Pennsylvania, I feel sympathy for the thousands of Clinton supporters who donated in support of the recount. This sympathy arises not because of anything Stein did, nor because of any delusions these donors may have had about the possibility of flipping the results. I feel sorry for them because they believed in the system, and the system fucked them over.
A week before the Electors meet in their respective states, the Clinton voters are down to praying for a few dozen faithless electors to flip the election.
Stein has stressed repeatedly—in "fireside chat" videos, interviews, and press conferences—that the nation deserves a trustworthy electoral system. Despite what haters and trolls keep saying, that has always been the focus of the effort, not finding hundreds of thousands of Hillary votes tucked away in some county clerk's basement.
If we consider voting a (or the) cornerstone of our democracy, and our votes don't mean anything, because people and their machines tamper with them, then democracy in the USA is even more fragile than we imagined.
This is the lesson that our millions in donations have bought:
- We cannot trust the system.
- The system will resist any efforts to reveal its vulnerabilities.
- Most Americans are OK with the system, or at least not actively rebelling against it.
Pondering a Vote Strike
Some of my friends are what I call "principled abstentionists." They refuse to vote and encourage others to give up the habit, because participating in an illegitimate system lends it legitimacy. Voting is for suckers, in other words. Scott Trimble, a long-time Green who ran for Congress this year in TX-35, is one of abstainer. Last month, 4,076 suckers voted for him, ignoring or defying his pleas not to vote at all. (Rep. Lloyd Doggett held onto the seat pretty handily.)
I am seeing the principled abstentionist viewpoint in a whole new light. That doesn't necessarily mean that I will give up voting, but I am more inclined to than before. This is difficult for an active Green like me to process, after years of electoral agnosticism. My line has been, "We don't know for certain whether our votes are counted correctly, but vote anyway in case they are!"
Below is just some of what people close to the recount have witnessed since Thanksgiving:
- state governments revising their recount fees upward after the Stein campaign raised the amounts originally estimated;
- state and county governments apparently unconcerned that their voting equipment is faulty or compromised, or that the worst equipment ends up deployed in low-income, heavily black or brown precincts;
- attorneys purportedly representing Donald Trump harassing county offices and recount volunteers, threatening lawsuits at every turn—reminiscent of the Brooks Brothers mafia in Florida 16 years ago—proving that the winning side at the very least had something to hide
- a federal court willing to uphold a state court's decision to halt a recount that has already been paid for, also reminiscent of 2000;
- unreasonable rules stipulating how recounts must proceed, or whether they legally can proceed;
- counties and states revising their reported totals, usually not by huge amounts, certainly not enough to flip the full result, but sufficient in the aggregate to make the case that inaccuracies could award a state's electoral votes to the wrong candidate
I am grateful to Jill Stein, David Cobb, Bob Fitrakis, and others for going to such lengths to demonstrate how broken our electoral apparatus is, even if the nation carries on as if none of these revelations ever occurred. I am grateful to them, even if it means swallowing a hard truth: that, at least in presidential elections, farting in the general direction of the voting machine may be more effective than casting a vote on it.
Preparing for Direct Action
The question for me, at this stage, is whether any political organization is worth my time and money.
At the end of October, I put together a proposal, based on the lessons of the 2016 election cycle, to make the Green Parties of Harris County and Texas true political organizations worthy of the term. In order to build on their limited successes and become a force in Texas, our state and county parties need to build real campaign infrastructure, to put people and funds together in the most effective ways available. HCGP is on a path toward adopting the proposal in a modified form at its January 2017 general membership meeting.
If the proposal is adopted, then with the election of a new steering committee the following month, the 18-year-old HCGP will have a new, sharper focus, with more accountability and mechanisms for growth (better, I hope, than the expansion program I began in 2015, which flopped). My worry is that it will all be in vain.
In the near term, I suspect that the resources or progressive movements will be better spent developing infrastructure for resisting the Trump administration and street-level Trumpism. The Military-Industrial Complex, about whose undue influence President Eisenhower warned us 56 years ago, may be moving into the White House in a very overt way. The Patriarchy, bogie-man of next-gen feminists ever where, has mutated into a cisgender-heterosexual-white-Protestant-male-supremacist monster unseen since, well the Eisenhower Days.
Voting will not save us. Direct action just might.
Would I be saying the same thing if Hillary Clinton had been elected? I must admit, I'd still be advocating direct action where it's appropriate, but not so certain that I'd be willing to undertake it. If there's any real difference between Clinton and Trump, it's that Trump's campaign has brought America's imperialist ugliness home, where progressives and people of conscience can do more to engage it and resist it.
I'm proud of my activist friends who have put their lives and livelihoods on the line to block pipeline construction or defend mosques from Islamophobes while I continue to collect a salary and pay down my debts. Will the stakes ever rise to where I will feel compelled to join them, to become a full-time activist?