Wild things are happening day-to-day in this election. When I began writing this piece, it looked like Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton couldn’t lose. I was going to write, “Help Hillary win big,” to my intended audience of Greens, diehard Bernie Sanders fans, and other progressives, including those I call liberal Libertarians.

It’s far from certain now that she’ll win. So it seems crucially important that progressives support her. They could make the difference.

The groups I’m aiming at are not insignificant in Maine. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is polling at 6 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 4 percent, according to the recent Maine Sunday Telegram poll. And Bernie fans who might not vote for Clinton? It’s unclear, but estimates range from a third to 10 percent.

First and most important, of course, Hillary-unhappy progressives should vote for her to defeat Donald Trump. But here I won’t go into the reasons that he’s so much worse than Hillary. Others — especially the Republican nominee himself, by his own words and actions — have made the case over and over. I believe he’s a dangerous psychopath.

From a progressive point of view, however, there are other reasons to vote for Clinton.

A Clinton victory — especially, a strong victory — would hinder Trumpism from morphing into a permanent racist-fascist movement. If he wins, be assured Trump will try to firmly establish such a movement.

If he loses narrowly, he or someone else might try to do the same thing. This is more of a possibility now that Trump has threatened not to accept the election’s results if Hillary wins. Americans need definitively to repudiate Trump’s politics of hate, and the media will measure the anti-Trump vote solely by the Clinton vote.

Clinton also needs as large a vote as possible to help her coattails sweep out the obstructionist Republican congressional majority. There’s an especially good chance for this in the Senate, where the fate of Supreme Court nominees is decided.

Also important: a Clinton win, because she has adopted a lot of Bernie Sanders’s positions, will strengthen progressive forces within the Democratic Party. Consider what Bernie accomplished with his remarkable primary run: A self-described democratic socialist no less, he wrenched the party out of the me-too-ism to the GOP that had dominated its upper echelons for 40 years.

Clinton and the Democratic leadership, thanks to Bernie, have now embraced an historically progressive platform. Clinton says her 2002 vote to invade Iraq was a mistake. She accepts that Wall Street needs more regulation. Super-rich Trump wants to reduce taxes on the rich and corporations; she wants to raise them.

But the fact that Clinton has shifted her positions — doesn’t that prove she can’t be trusted? “Untrustworthy” is the big objection to her, repeated endlessly by the media. Her undeniable flexibility has a different side, however. It shows she’s not politically dumb. She wouldn’t abandon what’s now her base.

And, as someone who has written about State House politics for years, I see her ability to shift positions likely to be at times beneficial to the public. It’s known as compromise, which is not always a bad thing.

Her pragmatism and her unparalleled experience would help her get things done. Did you see, I ask my progressive friends, how capable she was in the debates? She made the would-be strongman look like a wuss.

Note to Greens: Bernie Sanders’s campaign proves that turning the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction is far easier than advancing progressive policies via the Green Party, which I used to belong to. By giving voice to millions of the rank-and-file, Bernie transformed the party overnight. I was delighted to caucus for him.

Note to liberal Libertarians: I define this group as young people attracted to Johnson’s social positions — especially, marijuana legalization, which will be on our state ballot. Please look at Johnson’s economic and environmental positions. He’s a let-the-corporations-rule guy—further to the right than many Republicans. And he’s personally spacy.

Finally, to win under our peculiar presidential system, a candidate needs not the majority of the popular vote but the majority of the Electoral College. Our state’s presidential system is especially peculiar. Only Maine and Nebraska award their congressional-district Electoral College votes separately,

While the southern First District vote looks safe for Hillary, in the poorer, more rural Second District — the bastion of our notorious mini-Trump, Republican Gov. Paul LePage — she and Trump are close. Third-party voters and nonvoting progressives could help deliver the Second District Electoral College vote to Trump.

Worse, since the popular-vote winner statewide gets two Electoral College votes, it’s conceivable Maine could give Trump three of its four votes. The Second District turnout for Trump could overwhelm the First District vote for Hillary. The gun-control question on the ballot could bring his Second District supporters out in droves. According to the Telegram poll, they overwhelmingly oppose it.

If Maine gives Trump even one electoral vote, we’ll have yet another big thing — besides LePage — to be ashamed of. Progressives, please be progressive.

Lance Tapley, of Augusta, is a freelance writer and political activist.


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