But as we peel away the abstraction of our Presidential choice with the pages of the calendar, even these radical progressives are coming around to their own pragmatism and voting for Hillary Clinton. Here’s BLM founder Alicia Garza, who said in June she would “absolutely not” support Clinton:
I voted early. I voted for Clinton, but I don’t support Clinton. I’m not ‘with her’ and I don’t and won’t endorse her. I do not support Hillary Clinton, even as I recognize the difficult challenge we face regarding the need to halt Donald Trump. I respect the choices others feel they must make in this environment. I believe we must ask ourselves what it takes to make a candidate feel accountable to the concrete policy demands of a movement [Melissa Harris-Perry, “Black Lives Matter Activist Brittany Packnett on Why She’s Finally #WithHer,” Elle, 2016.10.21].
And here’s BLM leader Brittany Packnett, similarly acceding to pragmatism:
I have been wrestling with the same frustrations, but I have a responsibility to young people, to my community, and to our work. If our work is progress, then I must use the platform I have to ensure the work has the best possibility to advance. This is not about me. This is about the work. The best way I can use my platform is to support Secretary Clinton. Our vote is sacred. If it weren’t, people wouldn’t have been trying to steal it from us for so long. I’m hoping that we use our vote wisely on November 8.
As a woman struggling for the equality of her people, Packnett recognizes that Clinton lived a very similar struggle, a struggle the Republican nominee has never faced and, in his own rhetoric and behavior, has imposed on other women:
Part of it was coming to see and understand Hillary’s personal story more. Have you seen the Humans of New York video of her discussing her experiences as a young law student? The first time I watched the video I identified with her in a way that I hadn’t before. She discussed taking her law school entrance exams and having men verbally assault her. That resonated with me. I vividly remember my experiences of sexism and racism, and I could see how her experiences had imprinted on her as well. Those moments never go away. They shape you.
And as a fairly young woman in positions of authority, I have been in a lot of spaces where men wouldn’t speak to me. They’d only speak to my male colleagues, even though I was the one in the position of authority. I have been treated more as an object than as a professional; the topic of conversation was my nail color or if my hair was in braids or straight or natural. As a woman activist, I have had to think about what I am wearing, where I take meetings, what time I schedule them, and who else is around when I take them. There are so many more hoops for women [Harris-Perry, 2016.10.21].
We all have our ideals. We enter each election season hoping to advance our ideals. And every Election Day, we acknowledge that we won’t fully realize every one of our ideals simply by casting a vote. We won’t elect one Great Leader who will take up all of our burdens and free us from the work of democracy. We vote for the best option before us, the candidate who best understands our struggles and who thus is most likely to move our way when we bring that struggle to her. Even with that optimal candidate in office, we will keep struggling. We will keep doing the work of democracy, sweating every day for Packnett’s “radical dream of justice and liberation for us all.”
We can hope this pragmatic realization by the Black Lives Matter leaders signals a broader realization among young progressives in the electorate that will drive a landslide for the qualified, pragmatic Hillary Clinton, the next President of the United States.