Hillary Clinton is by far the most experienced and qualified candidate for president this year, with background in the White House, the Senate, and as Secretary of State.
Bernie Sanders represents my ideals and aspirations.
Hillary (and Bill) create scandal without crime, when they meet criticism with silence. Their arrogance and sense of entitlement led to Ken Starr and Monica Lewinski as it has to the continued prominence of the “email scandal” this year. If the Clintons had opened the books on Whitewater or said “I blew it and I’m sorry” as soon as the email issue arose, there would have been no festering wound that wasted their political capital and damaged our interests. This same arrogance led Hillary to sell her soul to Wall St. in million dollar speeches even though (1) she didn’t need the money, (2) knew she was going to run for president, and (3) knew (or ought to have) that her actions would hurt her politically.
Bernie is squeaky clean.
Hillary is nearly 100% artifice and focus-group-tested sound bites. (It was distressingly hilarious when her campaign announced a few months ago that she would henceforth be more spontaneous.)
Bernie is authentic. He says what he means and doesn’t pretend to be anyone else.
The Clintons turn nasty when they sense they’re in political trouble. Who can forget their racist campaign in 2008, once they realized that they had underestimated Barack Obama (another sign of their famous arrogance)? The same tic is on display in 2016, with Chelsea Clinton’s lie that Bernie would take away everyone’s health care. (Clinton supporters do the same kind of thing: in yesterday’s Huffington Post, Peter D. Rosenstein twice calls Bernie a liar, just because they happen to disagree.)
Bernie fights fair, exemplified by his refusal in the first Democratic debate this year to carry on about Hillary’s emails or to distort her record and positions.
Hillary couldn’t excite a roomful of kindergarteners hopped on Frosted Flakes. Bernie draws huge, passionate crowds wherever he goes.
I loathe the Clintons. It’s only somewhat about policy. Yeah, I’m very disturbed by Hillary’s hawkishness and history of Wall St. fealty. But what I truly hate is their character: the entitlement, the nastiness, the perpetual handing of rope to their (and our!) enemies. It’s shocking how politically tone deaf these veterans of national politics are. But arrogance and stupidity go hand in hand.
As one after another progressive pundit has made the case against Bernie in recent days, they keep coming back to how unrealistic his plans are. (On Facebook, I recently agreed with Paul Krugman’s argument in the New York Times against “relitigating” health care reform.) Or they point out that Bernie could lose by McGovernite proportions against whatever evil fucker the GOP puts up against him.
Of course, the critique of Bernie’s pie-in-the-sky idealism is on the mark. Faced with a hostile Congress (there’s doubt that even the Democrats would support his plans), there isn’t a chance in hell for single payer or free college tuition. But the flip side of that argument is that all campaigns tout plans that won’t stand a chance in the meat grinder of politics and legislation. What is wrong with painting a picture of where you would like to lead?
As for electability, Bernie’s supporters are right that many recent polls show him running as well or better than Hillary against named GOP opponents. But the flaw in this argument is that the national media has only just begun to beat up on him (thanks, Washington Post for your great leadership on this) and the GOP has mostly ignored him. How will his polling numbers fare when he is in the spotlight as the Democratic nominee? Not well, I assure you.
On the other hand, everyone knows everything about Hillary. There will be no new lines of attack on her. Those of us who loathe her will still loathe her. Those who love her know their lover well and won’t suddenly go fickle. That is, the polling on Hillary is what it is and is not going to change more than marginally in months ahead.
Oh how I want a Bernie Sanders in character and ideals to be our president. Oh how terrified I am that – even if he could pull off the nomination (which remains extremely unlikely) – he could lead us off the cliff in November.
And don’t forget, the left and the Democrats are at the edge of the abyss. Unlike when Ronald Reagan won in 1980 and W pulled off his wins in the aughts, the GOP now has a lock on Congress and a huge majority of states and this year’s party is far to the right of the GOP of even 10 years ago.
The only thing in the way of hard-right government by mandate in this country is a Democratic president in 2017.
I will vote for Bernie in Maryland’s April primary. And I won’t vote for Hillary in November, because I know that Maryland will go blue even without my vote. But if I were in Ohio or Virginia, I’d do what I must to prevent a catastrophe.
I want Bernie to win in Iowa and New Hampshire, because the progressive idealism he represents needs an ever-increasing voice in the national debate.
But after going back and forth on this for year, I’m back where I started: crossing my fingers that Clinton does nothing (more) to self destruct, wins the nomination, and vanquishes the forces of darkness in November.
PS. I contributed to Bernie’s campaign this year and would never give a dime to the Clintons or their wholly owned DNC.
©2016 Keith Berner