Gyasi Ross: Why I Would Vote For Hillary If Bernie Did Not Win the Nomination

The Lesser of Two Evils: Why I Would Vote For Hillary If Bernie Did Not Win the Nomination

Gyasi Ross

This hurts to write.  Damn it hurts. 

But I have to write it. And I have to say it. And if I could sing, I’d sing it too.

If Bernie does not win the Democratic nomination, I would vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

I really don’t want to contemplate it but I think we have an obligation to strategize all possibilities; brown people don’t have the privilege of not having a Plan B. Don’t get me wrong: Bernie can still win this thing and IF we do our job (MAKE NO MISTAKE—THE REMAINING PRIMARY SCHEDULE GREATLY FAVORS BERNIE.  ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE!!).  There’s a very real possibility that he could win!! Math is math—she’s winning. But we will win if we work hard enough (or she gets indicted—for those that say it cannot happen, there IS an active investigation, as you all know).  There are paths to victory for Bernie.

But IF we DON’T win the victory, what then?

I wouldn’t want to vote for either candidate in that situation. Trump stinks and Hillary is also a profoundly flawed candidate, one that has consistently been on the wrong side of history and policy as it relates to people of color.  She’s an anachronism, a reminder of machine politics when Democrats could and would take the votes of people of color for granted because where else are they going to go?

All those critiques are true.  For example, Hillary hasn’t shown any real commitment to reaching Native people or a commitment to championing any substantive positions for Natives in any public space in 2016.  She hasn’t done nearly the outreach to Native communities that Bernie has—the Hillary campaign could learn a lot from Bernie’s outreach to Native voters this cycle and should adopt Bernie’s platform toward Native Nations. That would be revolutionary. Likewise, she has never shown any meaningful consideration to her “firewall,” the black community.  It does look like she’s finally slightly considering the voices of black organizers and the impact of her support of mass incarceration/three-strikes laws. Yet I see that as more of a testament to those black organizers’ work than to Hillary soul-searching and finding value in black lives. 

There would be nothing idealistic, aspirational or progressive about a vote for Hillary over Trump. My vote would simply be for the lesser of two evils, two candidates that have histories of harming brown and black people. But one candidate—Trump—has made explicit intent to harm more brown people part of his presidential platform.   If Hillary began to embrace Bernie’s platform on Native people and disavowed her history of interventionism, it would make it somewhat easier, but still not aspirational.

Therefore I would vote for Hillary if she defeats Bernie for the nomination.  Moreover, I would likely go to a battleground state to work to make sure that she gets elected.  But when I cast that vote for her, it won’t be for her, but will be a vote against Trump and his blatant racism against our Muslim and Latino sisters and brothers. Not that Hillary doesn’t have LOTS of blood on her hands—her interventionism (from Afghanistan in 2001, the Iraq War in 2003, the Honduran coup in 2009, Libya in 2011) has resulted in many, many deaths, not to mention mass incarceration and increased police presence domestically which disproportionately affects brown and black bodies.

Her record of intervention speaks for itself.  But at the very least she isn’t saying that she is going to target certain groups for persecution. 

Voting for her would be the very definition of “lesser of two evils.”  But NOT voting is a privilege of those who are not in physical danger. Since there would be brown and black bodies in even more physical danger under Trump than Hillary, voting for Hillary would be a necessary evil in that situation. 


Recently, I had dinner with a group of my good friends. One of my friends is a Latino brother, Mexican-American.  An election year, of course we ended up talking politics and the question came up: “Who are you going to vote for?” We all went through our spiels—I have been a notoriously loud Bernie supporter since before he declared his intention to run for President. I explained all the reasons that I support him and not Hillary.  They all agreed—we are all progressives and think that he is by far the best candidate available. 

We’re feeling the bern.

Then the inevitable follow-up question came—“What if he doesn’t win?” 

We grew uncomfortable. We didn’t want to talk about that.  I told the group that I likely would not vote.  I honestly felt like that. It made sense to me—to voice my protest by withdrawal from the system, and also to organize with a group of folks who likewise do not feel like the larger systemic questions are being answered by this current structure.  Leverage our non-vote! “Ok Hillary, you want our vote, then come address our concerns! Actually apologize for your support of three strikes and your out laws and show us how you intend to undo the damage you created to black and brown families!”

My Mexican-American friend looked shocked and pained.  He asked me “really?” 

We finished our dinner and made an unspoken vow not to talk politics again during this cycle. 


In another election year, this strategy might be justified.  I don’t go for the rhetoric that “the stakes are too high this year” that folks say whenever someone brings up a third-party candidate.  That’s fear-mongering and I won’t let that determine my decisions. Candidates always try to convince us that this election year is unique.

But 2016 actually is unique. 

Look, I agree that it will be difficult for any president to pass any meaningful legislation no matter who that president is. Agreed. It is an obstructionist congress and in the same way that Obama had great difficulty getting anything through, any of these candidates will have an equally difficult time, if not greater.

That said, 2016 is a unique election cycle where a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has openly declared war on our Muslim family as well as our Mexican family.  He has made no qualms about his intentions—he is going to construct a huge wall between Mexico and the United States, not allowing any Muslims to come into this country.  One of the reasons that he feels this wall is necessary is because he believes the Mexicans who come to this nation are rapists and drug dealers. This is a unique and ugly type of discrimination against discreet groups of people within this Nation.  You all have seen the video footage; Trump has proven his racist rhetoric with action, encouraging violence against black and brown people at his rallies with absolutely no provocation.

That is a unique threat to brown and black people that hasn’t been present in recent elections.

That’s why my Mexican-American friend looked at me shocked and pained; “This guy is talking about deporting members of my family and you are contemplating not voting?  What kind of friend, what kind of progressive are you?  11 million people.  Many of those people Indigenous.”

Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and threats of violence are unique in recent history—Mitt Romney didn’t use this type of rhetoric, didn’t encourage violence and removal against brown and black voices.  McCain didn’t either.  Bush Jr. didn’t either.  Donald Trump is a unique threat to the lives and well-being of Muslims, Arabs, Mexicans, Latinos generally and therefore a threat to everyone. And that’s just at his rallies; can you imagine if this racist has the power of TSA, Homeland Security, the FBI and Secret Service behind him?

I assure you that it would be bad for our Muslim and Latino family. If it were in an election against any of those aforementioned candidates (McCain, Romney, etc), maybe we sit that election out in protest with the prospect of such an underwhelming election between two bad candidates as Hillary and the Donald. 

But we cannot sit this one out.  It is unique. 

We know that racism is a very real thing; imagine if that racism didn’t even have to hide, didn’t even have to pretend that it respected our humanity. 

It would be like Donald Trump’s rallies. 

There would be openly condoned state-sanctioned violence that is unique and horrible. This isn’t about Hillary.  Forget her. It’s not about Democrat or Republican.  Like many of my friends, I’m neither.  It’s not about theory—the threat of Donald Trump harming brown and black people isn’t theoretical, it’s real.  He said exactly what he will do when he’s in power.  History tells us that when white men say they’re going to do evil things to people of color in this nation, we should believe them.

I believe him.

“Vote Blue No Matter Who?”  Oh hell naw.  And I ain’t conceding either—I’m 100% #BernieSanders2016 and I’m holding out hope that folks come to their senses and realize Bernie is the best candidate!

We can and should maintain and even amplify all of our critiques of Hillary, the Democratic Party and the electoral system.  Absolutely—we have to. Bernie absolutely has a viable plan for victory.  Still, if Bernie does not win the nomination I would be in a battleground state working, except it will be for Hillary. Because it’s bigger than Hillary. It’s bigger than Bernie. He is a great and a justice-minded white man who makes racial and economic justice a priority. That is powerful. Yet we cannot allow our political allegiance to a white man threaten real brown and black lives. Trump’s vitriol against the Muslim and Latino communities is real and not theoretical. Therefore, IF Bernie doesn’t win the nomination, I will vote for solidarity for brown and black lives that are in a unique type of danger and against blatant, violent and state-sanctioned racism under Trump. In its place, I believe that we can work together to foil Hillary’s pattern of harming brown and black lives both domestically and abroad. Perhaps we can hold her more accountable than Trump—that is the hope. 

It would hurt if Bernie didn’t win and Hillary was the only choice vs. Trump…but it wouldn’t be a vote for Hillary, it would be a vote against Trump’s blatant racism.  That’s it, nothing more. 

Let’s go help Bernie win in the upcoming states. Seriously—let’s go. And if that doesn’t go as planned, I encourage all who are likewise #BernieOrBust and are considering sitting out of the upcoming election to consider this viewpoint and to rally around our Muslim and Latino family.  People of color have to help each other and Hillary is less bad for brown and black people than Trump; that’s the only reason that I could bring myself to vote for Hillary if Bernie did not win the nomination. 

#HillaryIsTheLesserEvil #NeverTrump #NativesAgainstTrump #BrownSolidarity #BrownPeopleAgainstTrump

In solidarity.  

Wesley Roach, Skan Photography



Gyasi Ross, Editor at Large

Blackfeet Nation/Suquamish Territories

Twitter: @BigIndianGyasi

Instagram: BigIndianGyasi


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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
I like to refer to Bernie Sanders as Uncle Bernie and tell my family who support him that the "Feel the Bern" is becoming "Berned-out." Uncle Bernie has openly admitted that he has regret for some of his past vote-casting on legislation. Point is, if you have served in the U.S. Congress long enough, you are going to have regrets over supporting legislation that passed and had a great repercussion somewhere down the line. A great many citizens enjoy hearing about how Uncle Bernie amassed the younger generation's support throughout his campaigning. Yet there may be truth in that generation not casting a sufficient amount of its votes. Hillary Clinton stated during the debate in Florida that she is "not a natural politician," which the listeners measure to their own conscience. However it will very likely come down to "Whom would you trust more to lead our country? Trump or Clinton?" Now then, are you going to sit back with good conscience and not cast a ballot because that is your way of disavowing the choice that Americans must make? As I see it, perhaps my children and grandchildren will ask me, "who did you vote for?" after the election results are final. I would rather tell them, I did my civil duty to our country, and even if it did not go the way I wanted it, I voted. It sure as hell beats being a whiner or complainer who did not vote. Does it not?

tvc15's picture
Submitted by tvc15 on
I can't resign myself to voting for what I do not want. It seems entirely anti ethical to me. The vote is a little bit of power I may have if some political lackey doesn't figure out how to steal it or lose it, I don't want to be made to feel like I Have to vote for what I don't want. Yes, it hurts. It may hurt to do the wrong thing so why not hurt as much doing the right thing. I must vote for who I would truly choose and let the buffalo chips fall where they may.

Sammy7's picture
Submitted by Sammy7 on
In my opinion Hillary is a neoliberal and a neocon, a right winger and a hawk. She would support the TPP and TTIP trade agreements which would hand power to the corporations elevating them even above nation states including the United States. This would render American Indian nation sovereignty moot. Indian Nation lands and people would be destroyed on the alter of corporate greed. She would continue to support American military and economic aggression in an attempt establish one world government and in all likelihood spark a nuclear war with Russia and China. Hillary is a death token.

mds2016's picture
Submitted by mds2016 on
Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. No matter who wins, the day after the election America is still made up of the same people. We are all paddling the same canoe, and we are all responsible for each other. Trump is just one man. For hatred and fear to take hold it takes a lot more than one person. My vote won't be for Trump or Clinton.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Gyasi, I also feel the Bern, but as Hillary seems willing to stoop to any measure to secure the nomination (I WISH she'd get indicted), I think I'm going to end up feeling the Burn instead. I will vote for Hillary if there is absolutely no other choice, but my vote isn't really FOR her, it's against Trump.

Carlos Harden
Carlos Harden
Submitted by Carlos Harden on
our ancestors didn't die so that we maybe lead by a bunch of sycophants. it's a disgrace that we've adopted and accepted this fraudulent system. We've become too complacent. We use to put matters into our own hands.. Sure we protest, we write books, we exasperate the unfairness of it all but then what? roll up our sleeves every 2 and 4 years in hopes we hit the target. hillary has a long list of criminal activity. bernie has been smarter in keeping his nose clean. that doesn't mean he has us in our best interest. he is buying us off so that we may keep sucking off the systems teat. to keep it flourishing.we are pawns on their chess board and as long as you allow yourself to be played they will stay ahead of their game. but go ahead and vote for your lesser of the 2 evils. cause evil is still evil and will keep steam rolling its agenda.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
To Carlos Harden: You're absolutely wrong in your criticism of Bernie Sanders. He's actually traveled to several Rez's to announce his support of Native welfare. It doesn't take much research to find that out. ____________________________________________________________ Bernie Sanders respects and values Native Americans and believes the U.S. needs to support and work with our First Americans to improve their standard of living. Bernie supports the right of Native American tribes to self-govern and have sovereign jurisdiction over their lands. He also supports directly acknowledging our continuing history of mistreatment and racism against Native Americans and actively promotes measures to achieve justice for them. __________________________________________________________ Tribal Sovereignty: Native American tribes should have sovereign control over their lands. __________________________________________________________ Healthcare: Healthcare for Native Americans should be improved to better address medical needs and improve outcomes. __________________________________________________________ Acknowledging Racism: The history of gross mistreatment of Native Americans should be brought to and maintained in the public’s attention. Stereotypes and slurs against Native Americans should be discouraged and denounced.

TTPandTTIP's picture
Submitted by TTPandTTIP on
If you have any questions or concerns about Bernie's policies, please look at his website. He has an extremely detailed plan to tackle all of our major problems head on. He also has an extremely detailed explanation of how he will fund and support these initiatives. He has provided mountains of policy, while his opponents have provided very little other than nice sounding rhetoric.