Activist Shaun King Doubts His ‘Conscience’ Will Allow Him to Vote for Hillary Clinton


Shaun KingFrequently embattled activist and New York Daily News columnist Shaun King took to Twitter the morning after Bernie Sanderscrushing defeat in four out of five northeastern states to let the world know that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee, he’s not sure his “conscience” can make the heavy lift required to vote for her. Bernie Sanders supporters are dealing with impending reality in different ways, and King certainly isn’t the first prominent #BernieOrBust-er to feint at letting Donald Trump win, but he is something of a special case.

What, exactly, plagues King’s conscience? Here’s a taste:

There are two separate tracks for King’s qualms, the first being the ill-informed contrasts he draws between Bernie and Hillary. Both candidates support overturning Citizens United, and while Clinton is ripe for high-minded criticism for refusing to unilaterally disarm until that happens, Bernie Sanders also doesn’t partake of the public campaign financing he says he supports. Pragmatism for me, but not for thee. In addition to supporting the reversal of Citizens United, though, Hillary Clinton has also pledged to make the Voting Rights Act, as well as protecting Roe v. Wade and marriage equality, litmus tests for her Supreme Court picks. Sanders has not. Maybe as a straight dude who lives in New York, King doesn’t really need things like reproductive choice or the right to marry or pre-clearance provisions on discriminatory election laws, but lots of other people with consciences do.

As for the death penalty, I agree that Hillary Clinton’s position, that it “ought to” be reserved for the federal government, and only for really bad terrorists, is complete horseshit, but it’s irrelevant horseshit. We live in a bloodthirsty country that is generations away from abolishing the death penalty, so you might just as well decide this election based on a candidate’s belief in Santa Claus. Fonally, as an activist, surely King realizes that Hillary Clinton has been campaigning on ambitious criminal justice reforms since back when #FeelTheBern meant it was time to get some penicillin.

The second track is the contrast between Hillary Clinton and the eventual Republican nominee, who will almost certainly be Donald Trump, and who will definitely destroy everything that Bernie and Hillary believe in. To Donald Trump, Roe v. Wade is deciding whether to eat caviar or take a schvitz. There will be no criminal justice reform, except maybe to involve millions more Mexicans and Muslims in the business end of it. We won’t have to argue about Obamacare and single payer anymore, because we’ll all be buying health insurance from whichever state has the weakest regulations, or waiting until we have to show up in the emergency room. How’s all that sitting on the ol’ conscience?

I get that the Bernie Sanders “earn our votes” position is an opening bid to get Hillary Clinton to move left on some issues, but then just call it that, a political strategy. And if it truly is a matter of “conscience,” then your conscience needs to shut the entire f*ck up, because we can’t afford it.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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