Politics & Race
Why I Could Never Vote For Hillary Clinton

I have been a hater.

The summer between my junior and senior year of high school my friends and I were in a summer science program at Claflin University, along with a guy named Brian Siegel (Yes, that is his real name, because… Fuck Brian Siegel). One day another girl in the program had her walkman (this was before the days of iPods) vanish into thin air. Brian Siegel insinuated to everyone that I had taken it. When the counselors investigated it, they found the walkman in Brian’s bookbag, and he followed with a teary-eyed apology to the girl, the counselors and finally me.

After that happened, I hated Brian. He was charismatic, athletic, smart and funny, so everyone forgave him–even my best friends from my hometown who bunked with me in the dorm room. They thought he was cool, but I hated on him for the rest of the summer. He had lied on me, thrown me under the bus and apparently I was the only one who saw him for what he was–slick.

During a fundraiser yesterday Bill Clinton went “crazy old white man” at protesters who interrupted him from the audience while campaigning for his wife Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia (Notice I didn’t call them “Black Lives Matter” protester because I–or no other news organization–has confirmed an organizational affiliation, but you know… every negro with a picket sign is, by default, Black Lives Matter).

While deriding them for interrupting him (which is kind of the point of protest) he defended his wife against all of the groups who have been protesting the 1996 “superpredator” comments she made concerning Bill Clinton’s crime bill, their records on mass incarceration, how they prosecuted the drug war and her profiting from private prisons. When confronted about Hillary’s Superpredator remark, he responded by screaming, “I don’t know how else you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-olds hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the streets to murder other African Americans!”

Fuck Bill Clinton. I never voted for Bill Clinton. I never liked him.

I was an idealistic too-black radical during his first run in 1992 and I tossed Lenora B. Fulani my vote strictly off principle and an overabundance of Melanin. By the time he ran again I was a full fledged Clinton hater because when people referred to him as “the first Black President” it was as irritating as sand between my butt cheeks. Plus I thought he murdered Ron Brown. It’s probably journalistically irresponsible to say it, but Bill Clinton definitely murdered Ron Brown. In 1996 I voted for Ross Perot simply because I was a one issue voter. My issue–fuck Bill Clinton.

Most politicians are more charlatan than sinister. I don’t believe Hillary Clinton is a racist who thinks Black men are super-predators. She is smarter than that. Madeline Albright is the smartest woman I have ever met, and Madeline Albright says Hillary Clinton is the smartest woman she has ever met. I believe Hillary Clinton is brilliant. Likewise for Bill Clinton. Everyone who has known him speaks of how incredibly smart he is. I don’t believe they dislike or hate Black people. I believe in their hearts they consider themselves champions for equality and diversity.

Hillary and Bill are like Brian. They are friends of my friends, but I can only see them as stay crouched in the ready position to throw Black people under the bus when it is necessary. Like in 2008 when Hillary Clinton’s camp started the rumor that then-Senator Obama was a secret muslim by circulating the picture of  him in ceremonial garb. Like when the Clinton campaign tried to make the case that white people should vote for her in the 2008 primaries because White voters wouldn’t vote for a Black guy in the general election. Like when Bill Clinton insisted that Obama was just like Jesse Jackson after winning South Carolina. Like when groups around the country begged the Clintons to stop race-baiting seven years ago. They keep saying “Fuck Black people” and we keep rewarding them by handing them our votes.

Revisionist historians like to point out that no one was against mass incarceration, private prisons and harsh drug sentences when crime was high during the Clinton administration. That is a lie. There were a bevy of social scientists, activists and organizations who pointed out that throwing people in jail wouldn’t solve America’s drug problem. When Rodney King was kicked to within inches of his life, all of Black America tried to show how our communities were over-policed. There were professors and experts who kept relaying the messages about how Clinton’s policies were ravishing Black communities and that the entire “crack epidemic ruining ghettos” was a media creation.

It is impossible to think that people as intelligent, insightful and aware as the Clintons didn’t hear these messages. They knew, but they didn’t care because nuanced conversations about actual solutions aren’t politically expedient. Perpetuating the narrative of locking up  groups of gang-banging teenage assassin crack babies is no different from Donald Trump’s message about walling out Mexicans and shutting out Muslims. Neither of them hate Black people, Mexicans or Muslims, they just use them as outrage bait for white fear to catch a few more votes. A person’s true character is revealed when things get tough, and Hillary has shown when she is backed against a wall, and needs to buy some votes, she doesn’t mind using Black America as chattel.

If someone punched you in the mouth, kicked you in the head and then apologized, would you let them get close enough to do it twice?

I am an avid fan, believer and follower of the political process. If Hillary wins the nomination, I considered going into the voting booth, holding my nose and voting for her. I can’t now. I will simply vote for every other race on the ballot except President if Hillary is the Democratic nominee.  I know some people say not casting a vote for Hillary is casting a vote for Trump, but that’s not how math works. I am not taking a principled stance. I simply refuse to become a willing participant in my own oppression. Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. When choosing between two wrongs, I make the choice to choose nothing.

I saw Brian Siegel a few years ago at a reunion, and he was as warm, funny and charismatic as ever. We had drinks and caught up on old times. I didn’t even bring up that old incident because I doubt he would steal from anyone any more, he probably doesn’t remember it anyway and he apologized for it two decades ago. I don’t even harbor any residual animosity for when he threw me under the bus.

But I still don’t trust that motherfucker.


About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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