Let’s start by stating the obvious: I agree with Bernie Sanders on almost every policy issue at the macro level. I do, in fact, think the game is rigged for millionaires and billionaires. I like peace. I think his proposed reforms for criminal justice will do more for black and brown people than anything any of the other candidates are suggesting. I think climate change is real, and a real problem.
What’s more, I like Bernie Sanders. I like irascible New York Jewish liberals, and I would be one if one could choose such a thing. He’s the only candidate running for President this cycle that I would want to have a beer with.
But, I won’t be voting for him in the New York Democratic Primary. Bernie Sanders has failed according to the terms he established for himself. His stated plan for enacting the lofty goals and principles he talks about on the campaign trail is that he will usher in a “political revolution” that will sweep away the entrenched opposition of Republican officials and established Democrats.
After many speeches and debates, I see no “revolution” coming in the poll results. Bernie’s support comes from educated white males, young white women, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the Screen Actors Guild. That’s not a political revolution, that’s the check out line at Whole Foods.
Minorities are voting for Hillary, and working class white men are voting for Donald Trump. Bernie can’t hold together the “Obama coalition,” much less pick up the disaffected whites or irreligious Republicans who would give him the mandate for revolutionary change. We remain a deeply divided country... which is a YUGE problem for Bernie more than anybody since his theory of the case is that voters will overwhelmingly rise to help him pressure Congress into submission.
Bernie had his chance, but as Junior Soprano might say, he couldn’t sell it. He wants to overthrow the boss, but he couldn’t sell it to the people he needs to support him. Bernie Bros tend to blame the people who aren’t supporting Bernie for not being informed, but it was on Bernie to convince marginalized Americans that he was their voice, and he couldn’t do it. Not in large enough numbers he himself has said he needs.
And that’s just the big picture. I’m a New Yorker and once you get down into the local issues at play in this primary, Bernie is a problem. “The banks” — a term that he clearly doesn’t fully grasp — are here! They employ people here. You can sit in Kansas or Oklahoma and talk about “breaking up the banks” and get applause. In New York City, you better have a plan to replace those jobs. You better have a plan to replace that tax base. You better have a plan for the waitstaff at Cipriani, because they can’t all serve overpriced duck to the army of new grade-school teachers he plans to hire.
There’s a reason that Bill de Blasio, the most progressive mayor that we are likely to see in this city for a long, long time, endorsed Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders. And that reason is pretty much the transcript of Sanders’s meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board.
If possible, I would go through this entire Hillary Clinton endorsement without actually talking about Hillary Clinton. She’s a flawed candidate. I would say that voting for her would be like putting Lady MacBeth in the White House, but if you think Hillary would have a nervous breakdown just because she got her hands dirty while bringing about regime change, then you haven’t been paying attention to this woman the past 25 years.
Hillary’s foreign policy is terrifying. If elected, she will kill people. Many of them will be terrorists and some of them will be criminals, but all of them will be people and she will not let other, non-terrorist people, stand in the way of killing the people she thinks we need to kill. And when she’s not killing people, she will be spying on people in case she needs to kill those people later.
So... that’s bad.
But I don’t understand liberals who hate Hillary Clinton. She is authentic; she is naturally bad at running for office and that painfully shows through at almost all points. But maybe you would be bad at campaigning too if you had been subjected to over two decades of vicious and often contradictory political attacks.
We’ve forced Hillary Clinton to change her hair, her clothes, and her accent. We’ve criticized her for taking too prominent a role during the Bill Clinton administration, then questioned whether being First “Lady” qualified her to run for office. She’s been the most investigated politician since Richard Nixon, yet has never been found to have committed a crime. People have said she has all of the “Clinton baggage” but none of the “Clinton charisma,” which is odd because the “baggage” is her husband cheating on her and the “charisma” is what allows her philandering husband who perjured himself to be loved, while she’s gets called “untrustworthy.” We told her she was too uncompromising in the 1993 health care debate, and now tell her she comprises too much. She’s the most detail-oriented major party candidate since... Bobby Kennedy? But when she shows her substance, we call her “boring.” We call her a political robot, but when she tries to throw away a meaningless platitude at some old lady’s funeral, we lose our minds. We’ve questioned her toughness because she’s a woman, then when she proves she’s as tough as anybody, we “unsex” her and make jokes about her having big balls.
Clinton can’t say “the sky is blue” without Breitbart running a headline “Hillary Clinton Politicizes Sky, Denies Noble Whiteness Of Clouds.”
Hillary Clinton is not a secret Republican. She’s not a witch. She’s not going to jail. She’s a hawkish left-of-center policy wonk. She believes in incremental change and compromise. She’d rather pass a crappy law that has some positive outcomes than watch a great law die in committee. She believes in government, she thinks it does work and can work.
That’s not particularly inspiring. Bernie is sitting there telling us that if we clap really hard, Tinkerbell will live. Hillary is like, “That bitch is dead, I shot her. It’s time to grow up.”
One of the reasons our politics is broken right now is that we have completely lost the ability to compromise. We have let the perfect become the enemy of the good. And I think it’s telling that the frontrunners in both parties are the ones who seem most likely to make a deal (with the devil, no doubt), while the challengers are the “true believers” who want the center of the country to submit because they know what’s best. A majority of Americans are telling us that obstinance is not a political virtue. The ideologues are losing on both sides of the aisle. Liberals need to accept that just as much as conservatives.
Hillary Clinton is not why we progressives can’t have nice things. The entrenched views of conservatives, racists, homophobes, xenophobes, climate deniers, zealots from all religions, and the gun lobby are why we can’t have nice things. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with a reasonable plan for dealing with those forces.
And that uninspiring, incremental, realist “plan” is why I’ll be voting for her. I guess. Until something practically better comes along.