Hillary’s not a right wing wolf in sheep’s clothing, Bernie actually is electable, and all the GOP candidates scare me silly

Since we live in an online media/social media era and more of us than ever have the chance to write up our takes on the political moment, I’ve decided I’ll join in the cacophony. Here’s my basic take on a bunch of stuff in no particular order:

One: Hillary Clinton is not the person that her haters say she is. This is true for her right wing haters, but right now I’m talking about her pro-Sanders haters, and there are quite a few out there. Is she the progressive’s progressive, the pure outsider who isn’t tainted by questionable concessions to power, or by ties to Wall Street and centrist elements in the Democratic party? Obviously not. But is she the right wing wolf in sheep’s clothing, the corporate shill, the warmongering neocon that her haters claim? No, that claim just makes no sense at all. It ignores so much of her professional and political history.

This is clearly a woman who is passionate about public policy as it affects children (Children’s Defense Fund); as it affects women in the workplace; as it affects working class and middle class families trying to make it; as it affects religious minorities; as it affects immigrants, undocumented and legal. She hasn’t hesitated to stand up for Muslim-Americans in the face of the racist intimidation that Trump & Co have put out there. She hasn’t hesitated to support the Dream Act and a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. Her campaign has been out loud and proud in support of LGBT Americans, with impressively strong and unambiguous ads supporting Trans rights. And Hillary is also the person who, as part of Obama’s Administration, did a ton of hard work as SecState to put together the international coalition that produced the Iran Nuclear Agreement, preventing a neocon war with Iran that had tons of powerful interests behind it. And she’s the person who demonstrated that she could put personal pain aside and go to work for Obama after losing to him. She’s also the person who led a major effort to craft universal health insurance legislation in the early 1990s, then lent her political support to Obama’s successful effort to get the ACA passed, and now wants to preserve and expand what’s been gained.

Am I pretending that she doesn’t have a mixed record, that she doesn’t have political allies and friends on Wall Street, that she didn’t vote the wrong way on W’s war resolution? I’m not. I get it. She’s not 100% pure as a progressive, and she’s got such a wide range of friends, supporters, and connections that there’s more than enough fodder for just about anyone to paint a portrait of her as a right wing wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The problem is that in order to paint that portrait, you have to cherry pick the things you talk about. You have to list her moments of political compromise, expediency, or even lack of courage in a row while ignoring all of her impressive, hard-fought, progressive, and determined stands and accomplishments. I didn’t support Hillary in 2008, and as Obama moved into position to win the nomination, I admit that by that time I had come to seriously dislike her. But the way she handled herself after that defeat, and the way she served as SecState seriously impressed me. She rebuilt the U.S.’s international reputation as a country that is capable of diplomacy, not just cowboy militarism. She re-established our good name in the international community, and she advanced Obama’s foreign policy objectives with effectiveness and intelligence. She got China and Russia to agree to form a single negotiating team with the U.S. to confront Iran, culminating in the Iran Nuclear Deal, which has probably prevented us from being back at war on a massive scale in the Persian Gulf. So I’m not buying the hate from the left of the left.

Two: I’m also not buying the claim that Bernie shouldn’t be nominated because he’s “un-electable” because he’s a Democratic Socialist. I know that’s frequently put out there by HRC supporters and by the MSM as a reason to give Dems pause before supporting Bernie with a primary or caucus vote. But the polling that exists so far, and my sense of the zeitgeist, tells me that there’s not really good evidence to support this argument. I think the truth is that whether Bernie’s Democratic Socialism (or his older age or his Jewishness or his outsiderness) make him un-electable is something we just don’t know. He presents us with an unknown. What appears to be true is that public attitudes towards socialism are more nuanced than they were a couple decades ago, and that adults under 40 in particular don’t generally think of Bernie’s association with socialism as a deal breaker, though they’re not necessarily sold on Democratic Socialism either. I think the reality is that if Bernie were to win the nomination, and if HRC endorsed him, and the party really got behind him, his chances would depend a lot on who the GOP nominates. If they nominate Trump or Cruz, I would bet on Bernie to win. If Trump isn’t nominated and runs as an independent, I think Bernie would win the general handily. So would Hillary. If it were a Trump vs Sanders vs Bloomberg election, I’d still give the edge to Bernie. So yeah, he’s electable, partly cuz social attitudes have changed, partly cuz the middle and working class folks are feeling left out of the recovery and he represents the idea of them finally getting their share, and partly because of how the other party is (horrifically) proceeding with their own chaotic awful nomination process. I think Dems should vigorously support Bernie or HRC but resolve to support the Dem nominee no matter who wins.

Three: The thing that scares me in this election cycle is the Republicans, period. Not Hillary’s lack of progressive purity. The fact that the “moderates” among them are doing so poorly makes me take seriously a Trump or Cruz nomination as a possibility. If it ends up being a Rubio nomination, at least he’s not insane, though he reminds me of W in that I don’t think there’s a whole lot there beyond the surface, and he seems like a ready-made puppet for the Karl Rove /neocon crowd to manipulate. That also scares me plenty. Kasich and Bush seem to be the most reasonable / moderate, and – it kills me to write this – but Bush actually seems more moderate than Kasich. The Jebster at least has repeatedly argued against Muslim-bashing, and he’s not parroting the same awful lines on immigrants as Trump and Cruz. He also has experienced America as a multi-cultural place, in both his family life and in his political life in Florida, one of the most culturally and racially diverse states of all. Like I said, I cringe writing this, as I have so much stored up bitterness over W and over the Iraq war and the SCOTUS people he appointed, not to mention what he did to the economy and what Cheney did along with him. But there is no Jon Huntsman among the GOP candidates this cycle, and there’s nobody the likes of candidates like former Republican senator John Danforth or even Bob Dole – people I respected even though I disagreed with them. In the 1996 campaign, I saw TV footage of Dole on the campaign trail one day, in which one of his supporters used extremely disrespectful and hostile language as she referred to Bill Clinton. Dole interrupted the person and said, “Let me make something clear. President Clinton is my opponent, not my enemy.” I remember my respect for him jumping up a bunch of points that day. That’s called having a sense of what it means to do politics in a civil society.

So, to recap: Hillary is a solidly liberal, superbly qualified Democratic standard bearer who is smart and compassionate and has withstood incredible adversity. She is not secretly the devil. Bernie’s campaign is awesomely helping shape American politics, and yes he could win the general. The GOP candidates are awful, their front-runners are intensely dangerous, under the right circumstances they could win the general, and if one of them does win the White House we’re going to see a bunch of really bad stuff happen fast. Dems and progressives should support who they prefer in the primary race, but come together behind the nominee and campaign hard in November, because we have so much to lose and, potentially, a lot of Obama-era progress to build upon. I’m glad we’ve settled all of this. Now I fully expect everyone out there to accept my opinions and act positively based upon them, and I thank everyone for that in advance :).

 

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Our Obamacare Gratitude Is Huge

Thank you Pres Obama and all in Congress who made Obamacare happen.

I’m sharing a screenshot of the adjusted insurance premium we will be paying even though it’s the kind of info I’d usually treat as very private. But because there are powerful political forces determined to get rid of the ACA should they ever get the chance, I feel it’s important to share our family’s concrete example.

health care

We used the exchange for the 3rd year in a row last month to renew our coverage for 2016, and we received a modest subsidy based on our projected income, and we were very grateful. Then I lost my job unexpectedly. Our family was able to exercise the provision of the law that allows people who experience a job loss to re-submit their online

change life

Partial screenshot of the healthcare.gov web page that showed me how to report our unexpected drop in income due to job loss. BTW, the website works great. It’s fast, accurate, and really helpful.

application and get a bigger subsidy to cover their health insurance costs. The amount of our subsidy has doubled, making our health insurance costs much more affordable during this uncertain and challenging time for us financially. If/when Melissa or I get our next job, we’ll have to report that change as well and then we’ll get a smaller subsidy, which is fair.

One thing I hadn’t expected to happen was that because our estimated 2016 income dropped from what I’ll call very middle class to lower middle class, not only did our subsidy to pay the insurance premiums increase, but our deductible and co-pays decreased dramatically, which I’ve learned is also part of how the law helps working families stay insured.

I can’t say enough about what this law has meant to our family. Before the ACA exchanges opened, we were only able to get coverage from one insurance company, and it was costing more than we could afford and rising unpredictably. We built up thousands of dollars in credit card debt trying to keep up with it. We tried shopping around for coverage, but no other company would insure us due to pre-existing conditions. With two kids, a mortgage, student loans, etc., we’d reached the point where we were seriously considering dropping our coverage to make ends meet, and hoping for the best. This law has saved our family’s butts.

To my conservative friends, please consider us and the millions of families like ours who benefit from this law, which is based on a model that originated with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy think tank, and which was promoted by Romney when he was gov of MA. I ask you to be open minded about it and not just oppose it because Obama shepherded it into law.

To my very lefty, Bernie Sanders enthusiast friends, please consider us as well, and please don’t refrain from voting for Hillary or any other Dem who ends up the nominee because you’ve been told they’re too centrist or corporate friendly and it “doesn’t make a difference.” You’re literally helping to screw my family if you do that. The uninsured rate in this country has been cut in half, and the mental health relief people like us receive from this law, just from not having to worry about how to stay insured, is enormous. These aren’t just stats. This is real. Thanks for listening.

our old car

Several years ago we bought this 20+ year old Mercedes to run on bio-diesel and we drove it until everything but the engine was falling apart. I miss the blue bumper sticker…