Sunday, April 10, 2016

Calling it: Safe-state "leftist" Clinton advocates will not campaign for Jill Stein

A while back, several of Hillary Clinton's media surrogates gleefully circulated an article in which Noam Chomsky appeared to endorse her for president. In fact, Chomsky was simply rehearsing the same strategic voting argument that he has advocated for decades, insisting that he would only vote for Clinton "if he lived in a swing state such as Ohio." Consistently, Chomsky has always added to this the second rule of the so-called "safe-state strategy":
I happen to be in a non-swing state, so I can either not vote, or - I probably will, for Jill Stein, in the hope that it might be beginning of some genuine electoral alternative over time.
That quote comes from 2012, but it's particularly relevant in this case, because Jill Stein is running for president once again in 2016. And on the merits, Stein is far and away a preferable left-alternative to Hillary Clinton. She brings with her an ambitious and compelling platform that is far more progressive than anything Clinton has put on the table, and adds to that all the symbolic and representational value of a woman in the White House.

If guys like Tom Watson lived in Ohio, of course, Chomsky would advise voting for Clinton over Jill Stein. But Watson does not live in Ohio. Watson lives in New York - and New York, like most of the states that are home to prominent Clinton media advocates, will obviously vote Democratic in the general election. Here's how California, DC, and New York looked in 2012:


And though it's hard to get a read on how these numbers will change this year, early indicators suggest: not much.

Watson, of course, was clearly being cynical when he appealed to Chomsky, and would obviously be more likely to vote for Donald Trump than Jill Stein; still, a whole genre of Clinton advocates clearly think of themselves as leftists, and have consistently insisted that they support Hillary because she's a woman who's running the most progressive campaign. Jill Stein annihilates that argument completely, and living in a safe state nullifies any strategic argument Clintonites have for opposing her.

When Bernie Sanders drops out, historical precedent makes it clear that most of his swing-state supporters will ultimately back Hillary Clinton. If they were consistent, supposedly pragmatic Clintonites bringing up Chomsky would also take up the swing-state strategy, and that means that most of her media advocates should be knocking on doors for Jill Stein. Are they? Will they? Of course not.