I have an admission to make. It isn’t the popular or trendy one (but if you took a look in my closet you would see these are not words that affect my decisions) and it will almost certainly deny me a seat at the cool kid’s table in the cafeteria, but here goes.
Hi, my name is Craig and I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter.
There, I said it. Whew! This was not an easy destination for me. In 2008 I was the furthest thing you could get from a Clintonite. But times change, circumstances change, this isn’t 2008, and despite what the ardent Sandernistas would have us believe, Bernie Sanders ain’t no Barack Obama. And if my support for Hillary makes me a shill for corporations, a tool of Wall Street, a supporter of the oligarchy, a defender of The Establishment, and a lackey for the 1%, so be it. I’ve been called worse. What I do support and defend is reality, arithmetic, facts, and truth. However un-revolutionary that may be.
Unfortunately, I bear a few burdens and carry more than a few battle scars and subsequent lessons learned from this long, strange, trip we call life that lands me in the Clinton camp this time around. In no particular order:
There ain’t no free lunch, and anybody who tells me there is gets a great big ol’ sideways look and an “Unh huh, what’s the catch?” from me. It sounds good to an idealistic, innocent twenty-something—it would have to me many moons ago when I was that age and a babe in the woods of life. Not so much anymore. Everything costs something. And ‘somebody else will pay for it’ smells like 8-day-old road kill. Along this line, simple solutions get a wary eye from me, too. We have problems to be dealt with in this country, for sure. The undue influence of money in politics, access to health care, income inequality, the cost of a college education, to name a few. These are complex issues with many moving parts and the answers aren’t as easy as overturn Citizen’s United, Medicare for All, break up the banks, tax the rich, and free tuition. The fixes also aren’t quick. They will take time and commitment, not just a momentary Revolution!
I have a deep admiration and respect for President Obama. What this man has accomplished in the face of political adversity and opposition has been nothing short of remarkable. That opposition has come from both his enemies and his supposed friends, by the way. From the right because…well, just because that’s what they do, and from the left because of a good case of unrealistic expectations and unicorn hunting. As Democrats are wont to do, they show up for the presidential election and then check out. ‘OK, we elected you, now wave your magic wand and go do everything you promised. Mid-terms? What’s that? We’ll see you in 4 years.’ In spite of that, the list of Obama’s accomplishments is looooooooong. Saving the economy, health care reform, saving the auto industry…..it would take too much space for the entire roll call.
Now if my 2 choices to succeed Obama are one who embraces his accomplishments and his legacy, and promises to build on the foundation he has laid, or one who seldom misses an opportunity to take a shot at Obama, who called for Obama to be primaried in 2012, and who wants to risk tossing away 8 years of progress for a wish list of half-baked, pie-in -the-sky foolishness, that choice would be a no-brainer in my book.
I also carry the burden of having a pretty good civics education in my younger days, and a pretty good knowledge of how politics works from a few decades of observing and participating in the process. Promise all you want, what can you get done? And getting things done in our system requires the ability to form consensus and reach common ground with friend and foe alike. Which generally means first and foremost being a member of, and having a solid base of support in, one of one of the 2 major parties. Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, has been a Democrat, has worked with Democrats currently in the Congress, and has the confidence of her fellow Democrats in her ability to not only work with them but with Republicans as well. She knows from experience how the process works because as First Lady she watched her husband get things done despite a Republican Congress, and she was a Cabinet member when President Obama got things done despite a Republican Congress. Hillary also cares about, and has a proven commitment to, Democratic candidates other than herself. So far she has raised over $18 million for the DNC to assist in the down ballot races. Bernie? Zero.
Bernie Sanders never wanted to be affiliated with the Democratic Party until he decided to run for president. Who are the people in the Senate he works with? Here’s a little barometer. Bernie’s 3 big ideas are Medicare for All, free college tuition, and a tax on financial transactions which will (allegedly) cover the cost of not only tuition but his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan as well. He has introduced legislation in the Senate over the last 3 years dealing with all three of these issues. So far those three pieces of legislation have a combined total of one co-sponsor. One. Add that to the number of Sanders’ colleagues in the Senate who have endorsed his run for the nomination and you get—-still one.
I also know this about the average American voter. Socialist Democrat ain’t gonna play in Peoria. Try and explain it the Sanders people can do all they want, the American voter, the vast majority who aren’t political junkies and who begin to pay attention sometime after Labor Day, will hear “socialist” and no further. The Republican nominee and the GOP attack machine will beat that drum from nomination ‘til November and have Americans convinced that Bernie Sanders is a cross between Marx and Mao. What also won’t sell is higher taxes. The last presidential candidate to proudly run on that promise was a guy named Mondale. I believe he carried 1 state in the election of 1984. Want some more buzz words that the average voter doesn’t give two flying figs about? The Establishment, the 1%, Wall Street, oligarchy. These all mean something to political wonks and those of us who follow this stuff daily. The great majority, the people who ultimately decide the outcome of presidential elections…Do. Not. Care.
I also suffer from a working knowledge of arithmetic. Whether on taxes, health care, college tuition, infrastructure, or any other plank of the Sanders platform, the numbers just flat don’t add up. Across the board it is nothing more than the left’s version of voodoo economics. No different than ‘cutting taxes will bring in more revenue, create jobs, and spur economic growth for everyone’, aka trickle-down. We all know how that worked out. Just because the snake oil is being peddled by a salesman on the left instead of the right doesn’t make it any less snake oil.
Age and maturity have also tempered the need for everything to be exciting. “Single payer” gets the adrenaline pumping more than incrementally improving the ACA, “break up the banks” is more sexy than improving Dodd-Frank, and “free college tuition” has much more eye and ear appeal than making college more affordable and reducing student debt. Some have described what Hillary Clinton is proposing as boring and unambitious. One person’s boring and unambitious is another person’s real and achievable. I’ll take 70% of something over 100% of nothing six days a week and twice on Sunday.
Sometimes things just work out right. Hillary Clinton wasn’t meant to be the president to precede Barack Obama. After the Bush years Obama was the right person for the job. The country needed a major shift of historic proportions and we got it. However, Hillary is exactly the right person to be the president who succeeds Obama. The right policies, the right temperament, and a firm grip on reality and what is achievable under the circumstances. We don’t need no stinkin’ revolution.