An Open Letter to Cornel West


Dear Dr. West,
As a longtime admirer of your life and work, I am writing this letter today to plead with you to reverse your support for Green Party candidate for president, Dr. Jill Stein, and to publicly and loudly support the Clinton/Kaine ticket. Dr. Stein is fantastic individual who would indeed make a great president. Perhaps in a future election I would support her. But the risk of a Trump presidency is too great than to take any other action than to coalesce around the Clinton/Kaine ticket.
I fully comprehend the arguments and grievances of third party candidates pointing to our rigged electoral system. They are right. The system is rigged. Moreover, I understand that one could just as easily argue that a vote for Clinton/Kaine is the real spoiler vote: taking away votes from Dr. Stein. I get all that, but none of it matters now. A Trump presidency would imperil our nation, inaugurating a new era of sin and darkness, reversing whatever moral gains we’ve made since the founding. This is a man who openly mocked a disabled journalist, like a prep school teen who never developed basic empathic capacities. Worse are the crowds of people who have descended into a cesspool of hate, cheering him on, being fed this man’s arch-condescension and humiliation of others as if it were their daily bread. What will our nation look like after four or eight years of such hate?

In addition to pleading with you to support the Clinton/Kaine ticket, I urge you to make the case to Dr. Stein and her supporters that what is a very clear and strategic sacrifice of our higher ideals in voting for Clinton/Kaine – the lesser of evils – is by no means the sum total of our political opportunities to advance those ideals. For example, if you decided to reverse your position and endorse the Clinton/Kaine ticket, upon your announcement you could also declare support for a national movement to ensure that either Dr. Stein or Senator Sanders will be elected our next Speaker of the House come January 2017.
As you are aware, according to the U.S. Constitution, the House Speaker need not be a sitting member of the House of Representatives. A grassroots campaign starting now, extending beyond the November 2016 elections and running into January 2017, to utilize this heretofore unused constitutional feature to elect Sanders or Stein as Speaker of the House would disabuse all idealistic voters of the notion that, somehow, their choice of candidate for president is the “end all and be all” of their political belief systems. It is not, and it’s time we move beyond that narrow thinking. A national campaign to exhort our House members, beginning now, to elect a leader of national stature, not one of their nationally-unknown cronies, to set the legislative agenda of the U.S. House of Representatives would channel the aspirations of progressive voters in a productive way, rather than the status quo: effectively allowing their personal participation in the political process to possibly hand the U.S. presidency to Donald Trump by voting for Jill Stein.
At the DNC convention, and in urging his supporters to vote for Clinton, Senator Sanders boasted that the DNC platform was now the most “progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.” While many, including myself, would take issue with that claim, it is clear that the Sanders campaign made a major shiftin the Democratic Party platform. As of now, however, it’s all on paper, and will have little to no effect, as I’m sure you are aware. If Senator Sanders or Dr. Stein were elected Speaker of House, however, many of those same positive goals would be put on the congressional agenda with dispatch. No more emotional posturing, no more emotional placards, no more emotional tweets. Just actual bills, committee hearings,and floor votes.
Dr. West, should you decide to reverse your current position and endorse the Clinton/Kaine ticket, thus helping to ensure that no American who has love in his or her heart helps to elect a hater like Donald Trump, you need not adopt the Clinton slogan, “I’m with her.” Indeed, you could create a new slogan of your own that simply states, “I’m against her, but I’m voting for her because it’s that important for the survival of our nation. Period.”
I too am against Hillary Clinton for manifold reasons, too long to go into here. However, to cite just one example, unlike Dr. Stein, who haspromised to cut allmilitary shipmentsto the terrorist-generating country of Saudi Arabia, Bill and Hillary Clinton have asteady stream of cash into the Clinton Foundation coming from precisely that country, along with other tyrannical Persian Gulf states. I cannot imagine a no-nonsense leader like Jill Stein not doing her utmost as House Speaker to make sure that all House members, Democrat and Republican, vote to cut all U.S. taxpayer funding to that wretched government that is wreaking such misery andmayhem the world over.
Indeed, Dr. West, pathetic as they are, I’m sorry to say that compared to Senator Tim Kaine, Bill and Hillary Clinton look like stand-up citizens.
Just two months ago, before Tim Kaine was selected as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, I wrote here at Tikkun Daily that Senator Kaine was “one of our nation’s more decent politicians.” I based that statement not only upon his kind, gentlemanly public demeanor, but especially on his record in the Senate demanding a congressional authorization to use force in the war against ISIS, not relying upon the 2001 AUMF before ISIS even existed, which is the current state of affairs.
Regrettably, I had no idea when I characterized Tim Kaine as “decent” that he has a son in the Marines. Instead of pleading with his son to end a career in which he is paid to engage in warfare – literally paid to kill human beings – Tim Kaine has actually used his son’s role in the U.S. Marines to garner support for his own political career. Kaine’s behavior is shameful beyond words, and it is depressing to think that such a man, if God forbid something were to happen to Hillary Clinton, would be in the oval office. It just so happens that the prospect of Donald Trump being in the oval office is far worse.
In his 2012 Senate contest against Republican George Allen,Kaine said in a debatewith Allen “You and I are both fathers…I have a son who has started a career in the military. I will not do things that will hurt the troops or defense.” In 2014, the Virginia Senatortold a group of former Marines, “No state is more connected to the military than Virginia…My son is an infantry officer who takes control of his first platoonMondayso these are issues that matter to me personally.”
How many 18 and 19-year-old American men, who chose a career in the for-pay soldiery, will be killed in combat under young Officer Kaine’s command? All for wars the American people have demonstrated they want nothing to do with, and which Senator Kaine knows full well by his colleagues refusal to vote on a war authorization. Yet that won’t stop this man from supporting his son’s career, or invoking that career in the military-industrial-complex when his political instincts tell him it’s to his advantage to do so.
In sum, Dr. West, both Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are pathetic individuals who, when you peel beyond their stump speech smiles, are leading spiritually desperate lives: living livesin which they are willing to engage in the commerce of killing and death for the thrill of winning public office, assuaging their consciences every step of the way by tinkering at the moral, and relatively inconsequential, edges of geopolitical events.
Our political system is designed to let such types of political leadership emerge. If we don’t like it, we should change it. Whatever the case, Dr. West, the desperate spiritual condition of “Sister Hillary” and “Brother Tim,” as you might put it, cannot justify any role in our current political process that would help elect evil incarnate in the form of Donald Trump.
Say what we will about Trump, but he is right about one thing: there will undoubtedly be more domestic terrorism from Islamic extremists in the years to come, perhaps even from Muslim U.S. citizens, as happened in Orlando and San Bernadino. Unlike George W. Bush who, despite his manifold flaws, endeavored to tamper down the temperature of domestic hate of Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11, Donald Trump will do no such thing: every terrorist attack from a Muslim source, no matter how big or small,will be a renewed casus belli against Americans of Muslim background, leading to endless internal hate, violence, and counter-violence.
Back in 2000, Americans who support much of the Green Party platform could afford to lend our support to an outstanding American like Ralph Nader. I did myself. For sure, George W. Bush turned out to be far worse than many had expected. Too often lost in that popular anti-Bush lament, however, is how far worse the U.S. Army and Marines turned out to be for our nation and world than what we knew at the time, with their willingness to imprison, torture, humiliate and, inevitably, radicalize many of the same men who now comprise ISIS. All, let us remember, as they destroy the lives of those like Chelsea Manning who would dare tell the American people the truth about what they have done in our nation’s name.
Indeed, blaming George W. Bush for all of that is taking the easy way out. The fact is this: We have acolossus of killing and death on our hands called the Army and Marines, funded by the American taxpayer, and comprised of gun-worshipping people who will not tolerate anything but adulation for their life decision to engage in warfare for a pay and benefits package. The people who are a part of that colossus must be healed and, as a Christian, I believe they must turn their hearts away from guns and militarily glory and toward Jesus Christ andthe gospel.
Whatever the case, Dr. West, the people who comprise this colossus of sin and killing-for-pay, must never, ever be placed under the command of a would-be tyrant like Donald J. Trump. To marry that organized colossus of killing, and contentment with – even pride -in killing, with Donald Trump is to light a match whose flames will know no bounds.
Therefore, as a Christian, as a liberal, as a former voter for Ralph Nader, I plead with you, Dr. West, to reverse your current course in this election season and support the Clinton/Kaine ticket, and endeavor to get Dr. Stein to do the very same.
Both Dr. Stein and Senator Sanders have abundant energies yet to be utilized, and which can be parlayed into congressional leadership. With a grassroots effort we could start now to ensure that Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives: a House that would elect either of those two outstanding Americans as Speaker, and put a moral, humane and loving legislative agenda at the center of our national politics.
Please consider this request,
Timothy Villareal

One thought on “An Open Letter to Cornel West

  1. Seriously? I’m sorry, but your logic – really the complete lack of logic – is perhaps the best argument I have yet seen AGAINST that which you propose, this tired directive to vote for the lesser of two evils. You spend the entire essay appropriately pointing out how horrid Clinton(s) and Kaine are, and then you tell us we must vote for them. Huh? You have bought right into their campaign strategy, which is, knowing they are otherwise unelectable, to try to frighten us about Trump. He’s also bad, but no worse.
    Dr. West, thank God you have the courage to support someone who fits your heart-filled world view. Keep up the good work.
    I’m voting for Jill Stein. I cannot ever vote for criminals like the Clintons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *