As I await the results of today’s primaries in several New England states, I am thinking about how much we have to preserve, how much we stand to lose, and how much we could gain if the Dems hold the WH this November (and, presumably, win back the Senate in the process). I’m leaning towards voting Bernie in the May primary in Oregon, and I am guessing he’ll win here and maybe in California too, though that’s a tougher read.
But I’m definitely not on the “Bernie or Bust” train.
I’m on the “Bernie or . . . Hillary” train.
My BOB friends tell me that Hill’s a corporate neo-con she-devil who is probably not worth voting for in November. She’s a coldhearted coddler of dictators in Central America*, a Wall Street wolf in sheep’s clothing, a Goldman Sachs insider who loves corporate oligarchy, and a double dealing diabolical damsel of doom.
I tell them that I don’t think she’s as bad as they say. She doesn’t inspire me like Obama (or Bernie, for that matter), she has a checkered history on a number of progressive issues as a Senator, and she certainly is part of the Washington establishment. Yes, all true. But she is not Satan’s corporate spawn, nor is she the secret neocon prodigy of Dick Cheney. As a progressive who wants to see income inequality decline, climate damage reversed, diplomacy-first international policy, universal health insurance, and FDR-level investment in education and infrastructure, I recognize that Hillary’s past hasn’t been that of a consistent and clear advocate of all of those policies full force, though these are the ideas and ideals at the core of her vision and hope for this country.
But, I also recognize that her haters on the left have a habit of tarring and feathering her by listing all of her (real and sometimes fabricated) faults, while ignoring everything good – everything that progressives care about – that she’s achieved and fought for throughout her career. And that strikes me as where the distortion starts to creep in to the Bernieverse. I like Bernie, I’m probably voting for him this May, but I’m increasingly frightened of the Bernamentalists.
Compromised creature of politics that she is notwithstanding, an HRC succession to Obama’s 2 terms would enable us to preserve hugely important progressive changes that so many of us have worked and fought for for decades. Hillary in the WH means we get to:
- keep Obamacare, and at minimum expand it. (Personal note: any R in the WH will be able to single-handedly kill Obamacare, by refusing to sign into law any budget that funds it. My family would be screwed. I sometimes think Bernie voters who choose to skip the Nov election should be willing to pay for our impossibly high premiums once O-care is gone thanks to their refusal to vote for the She-Devil.) This is real folks, for millions of people. The uninsured rate has been cut in half so far and will continue to shrink if a D is elected.
- get Merrick Garland or some other liberal justice added to SCOTUS. If a R wins, Mitch McConnell’s Senate continues to block any vote on Garland, and we get instead another right wing justice. Bernie-fans: if you want any chance at a SCOTUS that might overturn Citizens United, we need 5 libs on the court for that to be remotely possible. Also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. Notorious RGB, is already in her 80s. I hate to say this, cuz I adore her, but she may be the next justice who needs to be replaced. If we elect an R this November, we could end up with a 6-3 conservative majority on the court. How the bleepity bleep bleep are we supposed to get anything revolutionary done if that happens? If you care about labor rights, we need a Dem in the WH – even the Blonde Terror of Rodham. If you care about abortion rights, or voting rights, or a dozen other crucial issues that SCOTUS gets to decide upon, then it makes no sense to refuse to vote for HRC in Nov.
- prevent the deportation of several million undocumented immigrants whom Obama has tried to shield via executive order. The court just heard a case on this question and is likely to divide 4-4, meaning it will need to get revisited when justice number 9 (number 9, number 9, number — sorry, couldn’t stop myself) finally arrives. This shit is real folks. Please don’t inadvertently assist in a mass deportation that I bet you are fully and totally against. If D’s take the Senate and make gains in the House, maybe even get comprehensive immigration reform passed with a path to citizenship. Even if a corporate shill like Hillary signs that bill into law, it makes a yuuuuuuuge difference in the lives of millions of people who are among the most disadvantaged and exploited people living in this country.
- expand voting rights and maintain a Justice Dept that is willing to investigate voter suppression and systematic racism in police departments. Yup. Even dreadful Hillary is totally for that, from the bottom of her heart.
- keep the Iran Nuclear Deal in place (and thus NOT go directly into preparations for a brand new massive war with Iran). Hillary the Hawk will uphold the Iran nuke deal, you ask? Uphold it – she’s the main architect of it. She’s the Sec State who got the coalition of nations, including recalcitrant Russia and China, to join the US in implementing the intense sanctions that brought Iran to the table. It was Obama’s policy, but she’s the one who did the intense diplomatic work to put that coalition together and keep it focused. When she handed off to Kerry, he was able to finish the job. When AIPAC and the GOP tried to kill the deal, she immediately and strongly stood up for it, and she continues to stand up for it to this very day. Every R candidate, by contrast, says they’d scrap the Iran nuke deal, and Trump and Cruz might just take us directly to war do not pass go do not collect $200, or in Trump’s case, $200 billion.
- keep Planned Parenthood fully funded and keep women’s health at the top of the government’s agenda. Hillary has a stellar record on this and is a smart and tough advocate.
- push for, and potentially pass, common sense gun laws (the ones that big majorities of Americans support, like universal background checks, bans on military-grade assault weapons, etc.) Hillary has been full-force blitzkreiging the NRA and advertising against them with an anger and abandon that I for one appreciate, given how in the past Dems have tended to tread carefully even while advocating these policies. This is not a dig on Bernie, btw. I don’t care if he was a bit more sympathetic to hunters than gun control purists would like. He’s totally on board with the basic reforms that need to happen, and that will not have a chance with an R in the WH. (See how I did that? – I preferred HRC’s politics on an issue but I gave Bernie the benefit of the doubt on his take.)
- increase federal funding for Head Start, support for adoptive families, children’s after-school programs, and serious help with college affordability. No matter how many speeches Hillary got big bucks for at Goldman Sachs last year, she has been, is, and forever will be the person whose professional career started with the Children’s Defense Fund, the person who is passionate about government support for single moms, at-risk kids, poor families, and working families. I seriously defy anyone to say that isn’t who she is and what she advocates for, in a much feistier way than Obama does, btw (and I f—ing love Obama).
- continue to stand up for LGBT equality, dignity, and full inclusion. This matters not just for millions of Americans, but the role the US has come to play internationally as an advocate of LGBT human rights is helping to change thinking in a positive direction all over the world.
- continue to stand up for the equal treatment, respect, inclusion, and appreciation of people of all faiths or no faith at all. Hillary has been up front and clear every step of this campaign on all these issues, and her ads have been nothing short of fantastic.
- build on Obama’s climate-change policies (and at the very least, not renounce them and walk away from the Paris treaty we just signed). Hillary is a full-on supporter of the Paris climate change agreement, and a full-on supporter of the federal investments that have quintupled American use of solar power since Obama signed the much maligned stimulus bill in 2009. Someone’s gonna say – No! She’d have allowed Keystone XL. Maybe, but Keystone XL is dead. Someone’s gonna say – No! She supports TPP and trade agreements that will cause us to fail to meet the Paris agreement targets. Well, maybe. Obama supports (and signed into law) TPP, and when I’ve listened to him explain his position, I frankly find him pretty convincing. But even if I’m wrong and Obama has sold his soul to corporate oligarchs for the TPP (I really don’t think so), would I have preferred McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan be president in exchange for sitting out either of the last two elections as a matter of progressive “principle”? Hell-to-the-no-way-baby! I think when the chips fall that Hillary understands that global warming is real, that renewables are our best shot at a livable world and a strong 21st century economy, and that that’s what she’s gonna pursue as her big picture policy goal.
I could go on, because the list is even longer, but suffice it to say that I believe that if she’s the nominee, Bernie will seek to maximize his movement’s influence on the party and on her (good – he should) and that he’ll then endorse her fully, and join forces with Obama to campaign for her. As he has repeatedly said, “on her worst day she’s a hundred times better than any of the Republicans.”
The changes that have come about during Obama’s two terms are stunning. They’ve literally saved my wife and I from not having health insurance. They’ve helped one of my friends, who works full time and earns under $20/hour, be able to stay insured and get the top notch cancer treatment he needs. The air is cleaner. We’re using way more renewables and less fossil fuels. We’re seeing the end of coal. Unemployment keeps going down. We’re not fighting a full-scale war with hundreds of thousands of troops in a foolish attempt to re-create the Middle East. We’re not torturing prisoners. We’re finally talking about prison sentencing reform. We’re seeing Confederate flags come down and Andrew Jackson get booted in favor of Harriet Tubman. Yes, wages have only ticked up a bit, but Obama’s also had to fight a crazy AynRandian congress. However, the Occupy movement, the 99%ers, Bernie, and a host of other progressives have done an amazing job of organizing and making that issue finally get the attention it deserves. Any D who wins in Nov will face enormous pressure from her/his base to take clear action on wages for the working poor, on income inequality.
You can tell me Hillary has a checkered record taking money from Wall St banks, but then you need to also add that one of her biggest donors is the law firm that took on the Wall St banks and helped stop some of their worst abuses. You can tell me she’s tainted by money from the 1%, but you can’t tell me that what she secretly wants is Mitt Romney’s America. She’s been, throughout her career in the non-profit sector, as First Lady, and in politics, someone who thinks about gov’t policies as they affect children, women, working families, and people who are more vulnerable to the indifference and inequities of the free market society. That’s her compass. And FWIW, Obama wouldn’t be where he is if certain members of a 1% family – the Pritzkers, wealthy Chicago Jews – hadn’t decided to put some dollars behind his earliest campaigns for office.
She’s not Obama. She’s not Elizabeth Warren. She’s not Cory Booker (I wonder if he’ll get skewered for his Wall St backers when he runs for Pres. I’m still gonna vote for him.) And no, she’s not Bernie.
Here’s the deal, and pardon my colorful language. Bernie Sanders is fucking amazing. I remember once George H.W. Bush was giving a speech to Congress and he said some disparaging thing about socialist something or other. The sound of one solitary person clapping filled the room, and Bush looked up from his papers and made eye contact with the person clapping in the audience. The TV commentator said it was Sen. Bernie Sanders. Bush shook his head in disbelief / disgust, and then resumed his speech.
Bernie is badass. Bernie is consistent, and he’s doing more in this year to change American political discourse for the better than possibly any one person has ever done in my lifetime, with the possible exception of Obama in 2008.
I admire Bernie a lot – I admire him more than I admire her, and I agree with him more than I agree with her. But, here’s the thing – I kind of like Hillary too. And there’s a lot I admire about her. I admire the work she did on Hillarycare in 1993-4 and the way she never stopped advocating for health insurance reform. I admire that she’s gone out on a limb to talk about women’s rights and the rights of girls in countries around the globe. I admire that so many powerful people and interests have tried to utterly destroy her, personally and politically, and she’s still standing (and, frankly, is the most likely person to be the next President). I admire how smart she is, how she is so good at holding a gazillion pieces of information in mind while she works towards a goal, and I like that her central focus is on working families, kids, women, and advancing a more community/”it takes a village” ethos in our society. There are a lot of powerful, imperfect people whom I admire. She’s one of them.
Hillary and Bernie are both in my political camp, my political home, the Democratic party. And I’m feeling cautiously hopeful about this election, because if we get a D in the WH and get the Senate back, we preserve so very much of what’s been fought for and won, and we get a chance to build on those achievements. And I want that, for myself, my kids, my neighbors, my country.
*(BTW, here’s the rebuttal on the Honduras allegation against her – you’ll have to decide for yourself. I openly admit I’m too ignorant about the issue to be sure of just what happened. But I’m not willing to condemn her w/o hearing her side of it.)