I couldn’t have foreseen that it would turn out like this.
Today was my voting day. I’m a 25 year old black man, a registered Democrat, and only 2 years out of college. I registered for the first time with a party this year to vote for Bernie Sanders. Right now, I’m looking at buttons with his name on them, and his autobiography on top of my PS4. I called people on his behalf, gleefully posted videos of his impressive track record, and in an unprecedented move, gave money to his campaign, a first for me for any candidate. I registered simply to vote for him in my first primary.
And I just voted for Hillary Clinton.
Maybe it was going to the Hillary rally that did it. I didn’t make it inside, just stopped by on my lunch break. I went to talk to the protestors screaming to the crowd, “Don’t go see that woman!” and “She’s a criminal!”, and “She belongs in PRISON!” I asked them what their concerns were or why they hated her, and they gave me thoughtful answers. They would be happy to know they made an impact on me, but probably not to know what that impact was.
So I went home with their concerns in mind – The Crime Bill, The Iraq War, Wall Street and speaking fees from Goldman Sachs…and the overarching question: Was Hillary Clinton that bad of a candidate?
Might as well get right into it.
On the issue of flip-flopping:
Many have faulted Clinton for her changing stances over time, but we have to ask, is it unreasonable that someone change their mind? That, to me, shows strength and depth of mind and quality of leadership, not weakness or duplicity. (I wrote about this in my piece, How PC Culture Has Inflated The Price of Being Wrong)
Take your pick of controversial issues – Iraq vote (especially), Nancy Reagan comments, “Superpredator” comments, Crime Bill, Gay Marriage, etc. For each of those incidents, you will not only find an apology, but an introspective quality about Clinton, where she is able to articulately discuss what went wrong and why. People who think they’re right, but are forced to apologize, can’t do that.
By contrast, Bernie Sanders couldn’t even muster up an “I’m sorry if that’s how you took it” non-pology-style apology for victims of Sandy Hook for his blocking of legislation on suing gun manufacturers.
At this point in time, we’re showing that we don’t give credit for learning, we give credit for being “on the right side of history.”
On Goldman Sachs Speeches
Here’s an unremarkable headline: “High profile politician gives speech somewhere, gets paid for it.”
On Media Blackout:
Sanders puts forth the idea of a revolution that those in power do not want to reach the people. While I understand the unfortunate influence of money on politics and news and the devastating effect that a 24/7 news cycle has on journalistic ethics and integrity (you know who you are), the question that he’s asking is: “How come a junior senator from Vermont, relatively unknown before literally right now is not getting the same press time as the former First Lady and Secretary of State?”
Is that your question?
On Getting Things Done
Sanders scoffs when Clinton says she’s a Democrat who likes to get things done, but discounts that she actually did pass more legislation than he did, according to The Washington Post. She passed 33 percent more amendments in eight years than he has in nine, and his legislative effectiveness score was “below the House median in seven of the eight Congresses in which he served.”
On Clinton Not Being a Real Progressive
According to OnTheIssues, Clinton ranks as a “hard core liberal”, and according to Voteview, her voting record was more liberal in her final term in the Senate than 70 percent of the Democrats and 82 percent of all members, including President Barack Obama.
On The Crime Bill
Hillary voted for the crime bill that hurt people, Bernie voted against it, so vote Bernie, right? Have you ever read the crime bill? I have.
It’s a mess, as all bills are. It’s around a 10,000 word document, with jagged edges, provisions here, and concessions there. It also included a clause about prisoners of high socioeconomic status being unable to transfer to specially designated prisons.
Does Bernie oppose that? Surely not. So clearly a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote, while not meaning nothing, may not properly articulate all of a person’s given feelings about any particular part of a bill, no? Also, you should probably try not to sanctimoniously beat Clinton over the head with a bill that you voted for, too.
When Sanders votes for it, it’s seen as a misstep or “voting for what is good in the bill”, like the Violence Against Women Act. When Hillary supports the crime bill, it’s because she’s a manipulative and draconian nightmare witch who wants to personally bus young black men to the gates of hell.
On The Iraq Vote
Invading Iraq is the definitive policy blunder of the modern era. But it happened. What interests me about that vote, however, is how the two approached it.
In Clinton’s speech, she’s busy talking about foreign relations, how best to manage them, what would be the next step after an intervention should it even take place, and the delicate interactions and histories of Middle Eastern countries.
Sanders talks about poverty.
This, at least to me, represents a doggish adherence to a particular ideological agenda that will not change, but that’s not consistency. That’s tone deafness. Sanders can slam Clinton all he wants for the ‘yes’ vote, but the fact remains that between 2001 and 2003, the hearts and minds of the American people were focused on one thing and one thing only (Hint: It was NOT poverty. One might expect that 30 years’ time will find Sanders still spewing invective at Wall Street, long after the definitive issues of America have changed.)
The job of President is the take stock of the changing landscape and address the issues most pressing to your people, not to pet your favorite. Poverty is and probably always will be an important issue, however, that was not at all what the nation cared about with two busted buildings and 3,000 dead Americans.
The conclusion I came to and the response to the protestors’s vociferous posturings was no. Hillary wasn’t that bad a candidate, and in fact, was a pretty good one.
All in all, I don’t have any problem with Bernie. I’m not in the habit of “voting against,” and I don’t see a need to start. I think Hillary Clinton is the better candidate, and that’s why I voted for her.
Negotiating a ceasefire on the Gaza Strip isn’t nothing, neither is working to nail Osama Bin Laden, neither is being the second most powerful position in the Obama Administration (sorry if you thought it was Joe Biden.)
Perhaps I lost the Bern for the same reason that some seeds refused to grow in The Parable of the Sower.
“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside…Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.” (Matthew 13:3-6)
Maybe that’s it. Perhaps the Sower let me fall by the wayside and wither in the sun.
However, the aformentioned, Hillary’s law education, and years of experience actually pulling the trigger on large ideas and initiatives with extremely high stakes, all while being able to withstand the white-hot political spotlight and enormous pressure make me confident in her as a presidential candidate.
And while I love the way that Sanders inspires, I think that, when choosing leaders, confidence has deeper roots than inspiration.
Photo Credit: https://goo.gl/Phyf3V
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