The United States has an election tomorrow.
Unfortunately, nearly 50% of the voting public won’t vote.
Hyped as a leading democracy and an example for the world, it turns out approximately 1 out of every 2 adult citizens isn’t willing to fulfill the most basic and easiest societal duty.
The base argument for not voting is: “it doesn’t matter, they’re all the same.”
No, actually, competing politicians often have huge differences in terms of policy and career focus (I’ll summarize several differences between Hillary and Donald further down in this article). To say that you can’t decide if a single proposal or person on the ballot is at least somewhat better or worse than the competing choice is just embarrassing. To say that you can’t see any difference between two presidential candidates — who actually have dramatic divergences in opinion — is pure laziness … at best. There are differences. There are big differences. And these differences will affect your life — almost certainly for years to come.
Before I go on, here’s a hilarious (and NSFW) monologue from comedian Lewis Black on this topic:
As Lewis Black pointed out, the question isn’t whether to go the movies tonight — you’re going to the movies whether you like it or not, and you have a choice between two vastly different films (in quality, substance, and style). And this movie lasts for 4 years. Actually, if you consider the far-reaching effects of a president’s actions, the impact on your life will likely last much longer than 4 years.
It’s absolutely embarrassing to not vote in the United States, and if you weren’t sure whether you were going to vote tomorrow or not, you better freakin’ get off your lazy a** and punch some holes in a ballot (or color in some circles).
(Note to non-American readers: no worries, you are forgiven for not voting in this election.)
Of the remaining ~50% of the population that is voting, ~50% are going to vote for Donald Trump. That’s not just embarrassing — that’s absolutely frightening.
As foreign leaders from around the world have already expressed, and as the stock market demonstrates every time Trump rises in the polls, a potential Trump presidency is scary as sh**. There are a bunch of reasons for this, and I can only summarize so many in this one article, but below is a bit of an appetizer on why even former top Republican officials and former Republican presidents (such as George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush) are likely to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Hillary vs Donald
Hillary Clinton is passionate about stopping global warming. Completely unprompted, she brought it into one of the three presidential debates. She highlighted that we have competitive clean energy options today that both slow global warming and create jobs.
While the design of a campaign website is organized in a certain way for various reasons, it’s also worth noting that “Environment” is the #3 issue in Clinton’s “Issues” menu bar — only behind “Economy and jobs” (which every candidate basically has to focus on in order to win) and “Education” (which isn’t a surprise since Hillary has dedicated decades to helping children and families and clearly sees it as her professional calling).
Additionally, Clinton’s campaign chairman and reportedly her first choice for chief of staff (which is widely considered the #2 job in US government/politics) is John Podesta, the founder and chair of the Center for American Progress (CAP), which has highlighted climate above all as the most important political issue of the century.
Here are a few quotes from Hillary on the topic of climate change:
“I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.”
“When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear. That’s why as President, I will work both domestically and internationally to ensure that we build on recent progress and continue to slash greenhouse gas pollution over the coming years as the science clearly tells us we must.”
“Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops ask you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.”
“Those people on the other side, they will answer any question about climate change by saying, ‘I’m not a scientist.’ Well, I’m not a scientist either. I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain.”
Clinton has clear proposals outlined regarding the Clean Power Plan, a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge, clean energy infrastructure, efficiency standards, fossil fuel tax subsidies, cleantech innovation and manufacturing, methane emissions, environmental justice, coal communities, and conservation. She would work to make great progress on climate and clean energy matters.
Donald Trump has essentially no record of supporting clean energy or climate action — quite the opposite, actually.
On multiple occasions, Donald has called global warming a hoax invented by the Chinese, which is so completely absurd that it immediately makes his legitimacy as a serious presidential candidate questionable.
As is often the case with Donald, though, he says one thing one moment and another the next week, the next day, or even a few moments later — depending on what he thinks will win him the most support, it seems. In the presidential debate where Hillary brought up global warming, she called Donald out for claiming it’s a hoax. Despite the fact that a tweet from Donald claiming exactly that is still public, and despite recordings of him claiming the same, he lied and said he didn’t say such a thing.
Donald has hardly spoken about electricity, transportation, or the environment on the campaign trail, and “environment” is not even one of the “positions” topics on his campaign website, but “energy” is on the list and that section of the site makes it absolutely clear that Donald is interested in pushing oil, coal, and natural gas — aka pollution and global warming — onto the public.
This is not surprising, since Donald has long expressed a hatred for wind turbines, has made statements that indicate he has no idea how competitive solar power is, and has not mentioned electric vehicles as far as I’ve ever seen. Furthermore, his top energy advisors are billionaires and millionaires from the oil and gas industry.
A few climate-related things Donald has said on the campaign trail include that he’d:
- pull the USA out of the Paris Agreement (an agreement between 193 countries — almost everyone — to cut global warming emissions and try to stop catastrophic climate change,
- repeal the Clean Power Plan,
- eliminate the “Department of Environmental” (which he presumably thought was the name of the Environmental Protection Agency).
(Note: here’s the hilarious backstory on that last one.)
It’s also worth noting the the Republican Party platform as a whole is hugely ignorant about the threat of global warming, the scientific consensus on climate change, and the benefits of clean energy for our health and the economy.
Taxes & Economy
Hillary Clinton’s #1 point under “Economy and jobs” is “A fair tax system” in which “the wealthy, Wall Street, and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.” Her plan would not raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000 a year — which obviously means the poor and the middle classes — but would raise taxes on the super rich and corporations.
The tax increases on the super rich would be used for great economic stimulus proposals and social support systems.
Clinton says she wants to “make the boldest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II.” She intends to achieve this through greater investments in infrastructure, R&D, clean energy, and manufacturing, as well as tax relief and less red tape.
Regarding clean energy, since that’s a key focus of CleanTechnica, Hillary’s site says she wants to “Establish the U.S. as the clean energy superpower of the world—with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term and enough clean, renewable energy to power every home in America within 10 years of her taking office.“
Again, the prominent placement of a focus on clean energy, especially solar energy, in the most prominent portion of her “issues” section implies that she’s a climate hawk and would be a cleantech champion in the White House.
The independent Tax Policy Center, as summarized by Dylan Matthews, indicates that Hillary’s tax plans would “raise $1.4 trillion, cut taxes on the bottom 80 percent of Americans, but sharply increase them for the top 1 and 0.1 percent. It’s practically a mirror image of the Trump proposal.” With that last note, let’s get on to Donald’s proposals.
Donald Trump’s tax and economic plan, as many have pointed out, makes impossible promises. It is based around dramatic tax cuts for the wealthy that would drastically cut federal government spending on important topics such as energy, education, transportation, and the social safety net. That would likely shoot the United States into another economic collapse
Dylan Matthews summarizes:
“A new analysis released by the Tax Policy Center on Tuesday reveals that the latest version of Trump’s plan would cost $7.2 trillion — less than his first plan, but still an astonishing figure. It more than doubles the size of George W. Bush’s tax cuts.
“Astonishingly, the new plan is even more tilted toward the rich than Trump’s first plan. That plan spent 35 percent of its price tag giving the top 1 percent tax breaks; the new plan spends 47.3 percent of its cost on the top 1 percent. Nearly a quarter of the cost comes from cuts to the top 0.1 percent alone.”
The ironic thing is, the super rich on Wall Street who would most benefit directly from the tax plan are apparently as concerned about it as anyone. The stock market has been rising and falling in line with Trump’s chances of winning the election — that is, falling when Trump’s chances rise, and rising when his chances fall. After all, it’s not that hard to see that Donald’s economic proposals — including his massive giveaways to the 1% — would greatly harm our economy and the global economy.
Incidentally, rather than pick some top professors, economists, or policy experts for his economic advisory team, Trump’s all-male team is made up of bankers and billionaires from the private sector — “hedge fund managers, bank executives and a cigarette manufacturer,” as TIME summarizes. Despite claiming for months to be self-funded and that he would not be influenced at all by special interests or donors, his economic advisory team was made up of his biggest donors. Coincidence?
Of course, Donald may have just had a really hard time finding economic advisors. The Wall Street Journal found in August that “no former members of the White House Council of Economic Advisers — spanning eight presidents — openly support Mr. Trump.” I’m sure it would have been more than 8 presidents if humans lived longer.
If you are mainly concerned about national debt (even though this concern is about as important as Louis CK’s vacation plans), note the differences in Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s net economic proposals: “Clinton would add $200 billion to the debt. Trump would add $5.3 trillion.”
Here’s a summary image from Vox (but note that the best part of that article is the string of cartoons that attempts to get Trump’s plan to a balanced budget):
Of course, there are plenty of other important matters to consider. I’ll do a much quicker rundown of these since I don’t have all night and the connections to cleantech get a lot slimmer:
→ Donald Trump doesn’t trust the country’s top national security experts, at least not when they told him that Russia hacked Democratic Party emails and were leaking cherry picked segments of them in order to influence the US election.
→ Donald Trump has advocated war crimes on national television — and essentially said he’d force the military to commit them.
→ Donald Trump has repeatedly asked national security experts why we can’t use nuclear weapons if we have them, insinuating that we can.
→ Donald Trump has bragged about sexually assaulting women and walking into the dressing room of teenage girls competing for his Miss Universe pageant (which he no longer owns) when they’re naked and checking them out. He has also repeatedly joked on camera that he would be dating certain teenagers once they were of a legal age. Multiple women have accused Donald of sexually assaulting them and trying to have affairs with them, and he explicitly communicated that he embarrasses women and sexually humiliates them as revenge.
→ Donald Trump has thrown democracy in the dustbin by not agreeing to accept the results of the election if he loses, by basically promising to lock up his opponent if he becomes president, by claiming the head of the FBI corruptly concluded that Hillary Clinton didn’t commit a crime in using a private server while Secretary of State (because Donald somehow knows better), and by assaulting freedom of the press and saying that he’d implement strict libel laws that limit this essential democratic foundation stone (which is not at all surprising when you look at how much he hates the media — even sticking his travelling press in cages and dangerously heckling them), among other things.
→ Donald Trump’s entire political campaign basically began when he for years claimed that President Obama — our first black president — wasn’t born in the United States, and had presented a fake birth certificate. He hardly acknowledged in recent months that Obama was born in the USA, but I wouldn’t bet against him expressing at a later point that he still doesn’t believe Obama is American.
→ Donald Trump has lied and quickly flipped his opinion on matters so often during the campaign trail that the media has been thrown back by the difficulty of getting him to admit to any previous (and often false) claims. Just this past week, Trump blatantly lied to supporters at one of his rallies, claiming that President Obama screamed at a protester, when the actual recording shows that Obama obviously did not do so and actually gave the protester a lot of praise and social support in the midst of the crowd getting irritated by him. Politifact noted that “Obama actually defended the protester’s freedom of speech” and the fact-checking website subsequently gave Trump’s claim a “Pants on Fire.”
→ Donald Trump hasn’t released any of his tax returns — which is unprecedented in modern presidential campaigning — and actually lied that he couldn’t do so because he was being audited. It has turned out that he very possibly hasn’t paid federal income taxes in over a decade despite being a billionaire.
→ Donald has proposed building a gigantic multi-billion-dollar wall between the US and Mexico and somehow magically making Mexico pay for it.
→ Donald has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the US, which not only essentially violates our freedom of religion, but also would almost certainly be counterproductive to anti-terrorism efforts.
→ Hillary Clinton has spent 40+ years working to help children and families. “After law school, Hillary could have gone to work for a prestigious law firm, but took a job at the Children’s Defense Fund. She worked with teenagers incarcerated in adult prisons in South Carolina and families with disabled children in Massachusetts. It sparked a lifelong passion for helping children live up to their potential.” … All while Donald Trump was promoting luxury hotels, running casinos (and also running them bankrupt), running luxury airlines and mortgage businesses and magazines into the ground, having affairs, and setting up fake universities.
→ As just one example of her fight to help children and the less advantages, “As first lady of the United States, Hillary fought to help pass health care reform. When that effort failed, she didn’t give up: Hillary worked with Republicans and Democrats to help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP cut the uninsured rate of American children by half, and today it provides health care to more than 8 million kids.”
→ Update: Bill Maher does a superb job explaining why the American public doesn’t like or trust Hillary Clinton despite so many investigations that led absolutely nowhere and seeing tens of thousands of her emails as well as those from her top advisors.
If that doesn’t make the case for you, maybe Louis CK will (NSFW):
But hey, the mass media has spent years focused on supposed Clinton scandals, because that’s what one side of the political spectrum has been pushing and pushing and pushing. And, despite thousands of Clinton emails and campaign emails being published by the FBI or leaked to the public by Wikileaks and Russian hackers, there’s still no evidence Hillary committed a single crime. Nonetheless, the mass media has found this a more interesting story than all policy matters combined or anything related to Donald Trump.
Our democracy is a bit broken. The media does a horrible job focusing on what matters. Half the country doesn’t bother to vote — our most basic civic duty. And half of the remaining half of the country is apparently willing to vote for a sexual predator who seemingly doesn’t pay taxes despite being a billionaire, has spent his life enriching himself at the expense of others, and is either a conspiracy theorist or preys on people who easily believe conspiracy theories. Tribalism is apparently still alive and well.
Please, go vote.
And start planning your run for political office — we need more good, educated, thoughtful people in politics. Yes, that goes for those of you who have a more Republican/conservative bent as well as those of you with a more Democratic or Green/progressive bent.
In fact, I’d say that recommendation is especially for CleanTechnica‘s Republican/conservative readers. There is absolutely no good reason why Democrats should have a monopoly on clean energy promotion and deployment, climate action, clean air, clean water, good public health, cleantech jobs, electric vehicles, and overall livability. These are all topics that have broad bipartisan support among the voters. These are topics that Republicans should be trying to demonstrate leadership on. There’s no good reason why people who want to prioritize climate action and clean technology should have one major political party to choose from in the United States. Unfortunately, unless more Republican/conservative voters push hard for these things, and unless party leadership dramatically shifts course, almost anyone voting for a Republican has to know that they are putting in a vote against our climate, our air, our water, our health, and thus life in general (… or, hundreds of votes against those things, as it turns out).