We don't have a moderate candidate. Depending how deep one wants to look at the current candidates, Hillary Clinton, who is considered the left/moderate candidate, has policies that are to the right of George W. Bush. The more we continue forward with this idea of the 'lesser of two evils' the more radical and dangerous the two candidates will continue to be.
Since the 90's the democratic party made it's full transformation away from progressive politics and began its shift toward neoliberal politics. As Bill Clinton ran his campaign in the hopes of attracting Southern Dixiecrat's, he compromised the Democrats usual role of being the party of labor. Many progressives will even remark that Nixon was our last liberal president, which is a statement filled with concern for anyone hoping for more progressive policies from our current democrats.
Many will commend the Sanders campaign for inspiring for the public to participate in politics. The movement invited young people to get involved and lead movements that can begin the groundwork for more progressive leaders and politicians of tomorrow. Yet, with the leaks on the DNC collusion of trying to block Sanders from the nomination, as well as the lack of media coverage he received, and his eventual compromise of vetting Clinton as the official democratic nominee, we see the movement that he carried fracture as the public has divided between the “I'm with her” lesser evil group and the “Bernie or bust” movement.
People suggest Sanders did the right thing stepping down and backing Clinton, believing Clinton is going to pursue their “most progressive” platform in the DNC's history. This ignoring the fact that many Clinton supporters and pundits ridiculed Sanders for wanting to pursue “fairy tale” policies for making economy more equal for the majority, policies that were not far off from what was implemented and pursued by more labor friendly presidents like FDR and defended by Republican presidents like Truman. Many progressives have either forgotten or have become too cynical in believing real change possible, as they settle for the 'lesser evil,' yet again.
It is when people believe that a corrupt candidate who's is unfavorable to labor – who is packing her administration with wall street friendly, pro-fracking, pro-TPP members – will change the system and tackle the “real” issues, that we begin this descent into a false reality of politics for change.
Clinton is better than Trump, but Trump is a reaction to the direction both parities have shifted our politics. While the Republicans are witnessing their own fracturing because of the mess of a candidate Trump is, it was Clinton's campaign that helped the media take “joke” candidates like Trump and Ben Carson seriously in order to help assure a more eased victory for her.
Usually respectable and more independent publications and organizations like Center for American Progress (founded by John Podesta, Clinton's campaign manager), MotherJones, and Vox have had writers cheerleading Clinton even before she was the declared the nominee, have said little on the release of wikileaks emails, the DNC corruption, and downplay the concern over ethical issues with the Clinton Foundation, suggesting those who focus on those issues are repeating right-wing conspiracy. This is not to mention the mainstream media free air to Trump, and CNN's Donna Brazile who fed questions to Hillary before a primary debate.
Vox continues to refer to the email scandal as “bullshit” ignoring the serious implications that having an open server where classified information could have been easily hacked. They gloss over the fact that she deleted emails (which many progressive outlets are quick to say Bush did it too, as though that somehow makes it better) and delayed handing them over to the FBI. Clinton's nonchalant attitude to the whole scandal is somewhat ironic considering her harsh condemnation towards whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, who was more responsible when he was handing over sensitive information to the journalist.
Progressives have come out defending Clinton's use of campaign finance money, usually using same defensive argument that was used in the Supreme Court in decision of Citizens United. The ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign funding.
Many progressives push aside these actual concerns commenting that, Trump is worse. But it's easy to ridicule the self ridiculing candidate. It's harder to try and have a serious conversation on the more controversial and disconcerting policies of Clinton. How can we imagine these same people who jump to her defense - no matter the questionable and legitimate concerns of some of her scandals - will come to our aid in pursuing the progressive agenda that Clinton and her financial backers have no interest in implementing?
We're relying on the same rational as we did with the Obama presidency. And to this day he still has his defenders as being a great president. They ignore his expansion of the drone program, his continuation the Patriot Act. He's assassinated US citizens he deems a threat without providing evidence or a trial. He has imprisoned more whistleblowers using the Espionage Act, than any other president. His administration has deported more immigrants than last several presidents combined.
Obama is tame compared to some of Hillary Clinton's foreign policies. Her progressive backers are quiet over the fact that Clinton wants to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria, which require force ground troops and start a potential war with Russia. They avoid the mentioning that Clinton helped overthrow the democratic leader of Honduras or that she was against the Iran Nuclear deal, though she changed her language during the debates.
We continue to see the compromises by progressives that would have never been allowed under a Bush presidency and will be fought with a Trump presidency. Instead of condemning these actions from Clinton and Obama, they ignore it, or worse defend the practice because Bush did it.
This isn't what being progressive is about, let alone a party of the people. They're just playing the same game the republicans play in defending their own candidate, regardless of the contradictions to their beliefs. And it's these kind of compromises that allow these politicians to get away with shifting our country further away from a government for the people to a government for the wealthy elites.
We need to start looking at our politicians with a more critical view, regardless of party, because if we don't, things will continue to get worse. As Chris Hedges stated on a DemocracyNow debate “Trump is not the phenomenon. Trump is responding to a phenomenon created by neoliberalism. And we may get rid of Trump, but we will get something even more vile.”
It is more important now than ever that we begin setting up alternatives for other parties and candidates to flourish. Bernie Sanders himself was an Independent and only switched to Democrat to be able to participate in the debates. The mere fact that many people are going to write-in his name on ballots across the US reveals the potential he had at breaking through the two-party system and creating a real radical disruption in our political system by running on a third-party ticket.
These alternative candidates/parties needs the same momentum of the Sanders base, but they need to focus themselves outside of the Democratic compromise if they really wants to break out this four year cycle of the 'lesser evil.' The attention to third parties in this election has opened up more room for new alternatives than ever before. If we continue this interest beyond this election in local and state elections, this will provide opportunity for real change. We just need the same progressives, that have flocked to defend Hillary and Obama, to take a step back and ask themselves whose interest they're defending, their own, or the public at large?