Voting Your Conscience. Hillary, Bernie or Wilders?
3 Feb., 2016
While Bernie & Hillary supporters lash it out on Facebook, here’s a cautionary tale from the Netherlands – and a question.
This is a tale of two elections: 2010 and 2012. Yes, the Netherlands has a Parliamentary system, and there’s a ruling coalition. But – like America – there’s usually a big shakeup every 8 years, where both sides of the aisle have a chance to regain leadership and reshape the political landscape.
In 2010, the 8-year shakeup happened here. The previous Cabinet was mainly Conservative, and there was a choice of new leadership on the Left – and on the Right. I had a choice to vote strategically or to vote my conscience. I voted my conscience. And I got burned. Oh, did I get burned. The Center-Left Labor party just missed enough votes to force a coalition with the biggest Center-Right party, VVD.
WHO IS GEERT WILDERS?
In terms of US politics, the easiest comparison to Geert Wilders would be a cross between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Like Trump, Wilders uses a lot of hair product, and his outspoken hatred of immigrants is only matched by his preference for East-European women in his bedroom (Wilders’ wife is from Hungary).
Like Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz, Wilders has also tried to sanitize his dark roots, and he is a political manipulator who is universally unloved by fellow politicians.
HOW BAD WAS IT IN 2010?
One of the first things the new 2010 coalition did was crack down on immigrants. Then they pushed through tax cuts. And then they announced an austerity package with the biggest cuts aimed at the arts. They raised the sales tax on tickets for the arts to 19% – except for circuses and the cinema. And then the subsidies disappeared – not just shrank: disappeared. Theaters groups went bankrupt and shut their doors. Dance companies closed down or moved on. The Dutch Theater Museum no longer exists. Neither does the Dutch Slavery Institute, which has its subsidy cut 100%. Many outsiders wonder how Dutch people can dress up in blackface every year and not experience any association with Slavery. Let’s just Dutch schools are not exactly encouraged to teach about the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Then came 2012. After a couple years with the volatile Wilders in the coalition, guess what? The coalition crumbled, Wilders got the blame, and we all got to have a new election. This time I voted strategically, and I wasn’t alone. Center-Left Labor surged to force a coalition with Center-Right VVD. Is it perfect? God, no. But it’s not as proudly mean-spirited, nor as painful, culturally.
And – to remind everyone of 2010 – Geert Wilders just this week was quoted as saying ‘if he’s NOT included in the next coalition, there will be a national rebellion.’
BERNIE OR HILLARY?
Now I’m faced with a Democratic primary, where I’d vote my conscience for Bernie in a heartbeat. But I remember 2010 all too well. For that matter, I remember Florida, 2000.
I believe Bernie Sanders is right when he says that America needs a transformational change. But what would happen if we end up with President Marco Rubio?
How much different from Obama would Hillary really be?
And what would happen if Bernie Sanders could end up Attorney General?