Your Voice Only Counts When You Vote

Volume 116, No. 11November, 2016

Tom Olcott
Tom Olcott is the financial vice president of Local 802 and the supervisor of the union's concert department

Tom Olcott is the financial vice president of Local 802 and the supervisor of the union’s concert department

We’re now just a few days before the election. As you know, Local 802 has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. For me, the current presidential race presents the starkest choice I have seen in my life – and I remember Nixon vs. Kennedy in 1960! Hillary Clinton has a lifetime of public service. As a former first lady, she knows the White House protocol like no one else. As a former senator, she knows the national political world and the jockeying and schmoozing necessary to make legislative progress. As a former secretary of state, she knows the international terrain better than almost anyone else in public life and is already an international player.

But her stellar resume – dazzling for any other individual – somehow casts a tint of suspicion over her. Yes, people have pinned controversies to her. Her e-mail server situation and the attacks in Benghazi are two notorious examples. But even considering these, she seems to have garnered a kind of negative vibe that, to me, seems out of bounds.

Do some people really think that the election of Hillary Clinton would automatically lead to an inferior or weak America? Could it be that the resistance to her candidacy is a vestige of the inherent sexism at the heart of American society? Answer that question in your own heart.

It is understandable that many of our members who were or remain ardent Bernie Sanders supporters might object to our Hillary endorsement. I would guess that a smaller (but not insignificant) number of members might be supporters of Donald Trump, members who would object in a similar way. I respect those views, but I ask members to consider the very serious differences between the candidates. There are long-term consequences to this election.

Donald Trump is a wild card. He is an improviser in a world that requires contemplation; he is a reflexive bigot with no internal emotional brake; he is a narcissist who has not one empathetic note for the concerns of others; he has knee-jerk reactions in a world where careful consideration has to be the norm; he is self-aggrandizing when wider understanding of others is key; he is a crass sexist, exercising power and influence over women in highly questionable ways. (The tapes of him as a newly-married 59-year-old talking about assaulting women, and the fat-shaming, slut-shaming behavior toward former Miss Universe Alicia Machado are merely two examples.)

Trump’s moral compass, minimal at best, is perpetually set to his own advantage, and is never set to empower another person, another class of people, or the larger good. He has no compunction when it comes to inciting violence against his opponents. In my opinion, he has misused his “charitable foundation” funds to his own personal benefit, which I believe to be a clear violation of law and IRS regulations. This self-described hero of blue collar workers has imported foreign workers to man the increasingly distressed and bankrupt properties bearing his name. He has stiffed many small businessmen and contractors, and has been under investigation in every state in which he has proposed a Trump casino. Please see this person for who he is: a dishonest, self-aggrandizing grifter, snake-oil salesman, and bullshit artist, with no backup other than his own brand of meaningless braggadocio. He claims to be a business genius. Trump may well have paid zero in federal taxes for years, based on a business loss of nearly $1 billion in 1995. What a business genius! NOT! That “expertise” would have disastrous effects on a national economy.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the second presidential debate in St. Louis on Oct. 8. Photo: Dam Schultz for Hillary for America.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the second presidential debate in St. Louis on Oct. 8. Photo: Dam Schultz for Hillary for America.

When one considers Trump’s core values and personality, there is nobody home. He has no ethical core. His success by being oppositional to the status quo is totally ephemeral, especially when he presents not one plausible alternative other than his own cult of personality. That is an exceedingly thin portfolio to rely on, in a national and international leader.

A Trump election would be disastrous for workers, for the constitution, for artists, for immigrants, for the U.S. position in the world, and for people everywhere. Ask yourself: if the Donald is pushed to action by one antagonistic tweet, can one think of a slimmer motivation to action? What tweet will set him off and set the U.S. on an irrevocable course of action? What ill-considered late night obsession/rant will set the U.S. on a dangerous path? This man is dangerous to us all. Please repudiate him in every way. Seek instead the candidate who can effectively create a compromise where one is actually available. That candidate is Hillary Clinton. If you find Trump distasteful, the choice is clear. Repudiate Trump at every opportunity. If you find Hillary distasteful, your mantra must, nevertheless, be: “Crush Trump!” for this election. If you choose to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, your vote is wasted and amounts to a Trump endorsement. Please don’t take that bait! Your third-party choice will likely be a bitter and regretful decision indeed if Donald Trump becomes president.

Lastly, let’s get real about our own issues. Despite my dislike of Trump and my enthusiasm for Hillary as an extremely well-qualified candidate, neither has spoken out on global copyright protection, arts funding and arts education. The candidates must think these issues aren’t important enough to put on the front burner. We know better. Art and culture are core human values that are also at the heart of trade and export. The world seeks and buys our movies, music and other media. These are the issues that lie at the core of Local 802’s mission and reside similarly at the core of our brothers and sisters in all of arts. We drive culture and we, thus, occupy culture. We, the creative unions, are the voices behind the largest international export market. Our voices must be heard. We must press that reality on whichever candidate prevails.


When you vote on Nov. 8, please also review the list of local candidates endorsed by Local 802. Those endorsements are made after thorough vetting by our political director Chris Carroll and subsequent in-person interviews with the Local 802 Executive Board. We are confident that our endorsed candidates will reflect our members’ best interests. Please support them. And please vote. Your voice only counts when you vote.