Someone asked me not long ago, “Why are you for HIllary?” Off the top of my head, I responded with this: “Because I think her husband did a good job, and she’s smarter and tougher than he is.” As I’ve thought it over since, I’ll stick with that assessment.
One could tout the many accomplishments of Hillary on behalf of children and working families. One could add her tenure as Secretary of State, advocating for the United States on the world stage, with in-depth knowledge of virtually every world issue. One could also note that she’s on a first name basis with most of the leaders of the world.
One could run down her stalwart history of moderate progressivism, her long history of support for and support from working people and minority communities, and her decades-long support of equal rights for every person.
One could even toss in the history-making, and “establishment”-busting, effect of being the first woman president. All that, and much more, could be fairly said about her, and any one of them is reason enough to vote for her.
What sets Hillary apart even further is the determination, energy, intelligence, consistency, and courage she’s shown over the years. Nobody in modern political life has worked harder for progressive principles, and done more, and suffered more slings and arrows for it, than Hillary Clinton.
Yet, despite the 20 year-long smear campaign against her, she became, and remains, one of the most liked and admired people in the world, and is one of the most popular politicians in the United States. (46% “favorability” sounds low, until you compare it to every other political figure in the country. Do that and it’s right at the top.)
Why not Bernie?
One. He has no record of accomplishment. He’s been in office for 25 years and can’t point to any achievement.
Two. He’s not a Democrat, and has repeatedly said so over the years. You have to admire the sheer gall of a person who regularly trashes the Democratic Party, yet would condescend to accept that party’s nomination.
For many of his followers, Bernie’s not being a Democrat is a plus, not a minus. They don’t like the Democratic Party anyway, and Bernie’s not being a Democrat only makes him more “pure” in their eyes.
Some of us, however, are Democrats. We recognize that the only thing standing in the way of President Cruz and a GOP Congress doing just about anything they want is the Democratic Party. This is not a time for the indulging of fantasies, but cold-eyed realism. Which leads to:
Three. Bernie can’t win. As John Kasich said, if Bernie were the nominee, the Republicans would win all 50 states. Give Karl Rove two weeks and $100,000,000 and the American people will be convinced that Bernie Sanders is Leon Trotsky.
Bernie would be made into a political leper. Any Democrat on the ballot would run for cover. When Bernie came to campaign, they’d be off somewhere doing whatever they could to avoid being photographed with him. Only Congresspeople in the bluest districts would survive. Democrats would be devastated.
The Bernie wing argues that they will bring in many new people, and these new people will overwhelm the Republicans. The McGovern campaign said that very same thing, and he got shellacked. Personally, I liked George McGovern, happily worked for him, and happily voted for him. His candidacy, however, was a disaster at all levels. Some of us have seen this movie and know that it doesn’t end well.
Four. Bernie’s nomination would be a rejection of the presidency of Barack Obama. Bernie doesn’t like the president much more than he likes the Democrats. He pronounces rather grandly that he would be better at pretty much everything than President Obama has been.
Besides, the President took contributions from the financial sector and is “corrupt,” just like pretty much everybody who is not named Bernie Sanders. Does the Democratic Party really want to sabotage the legacy of the first African-American president?
Five. Even if, by some fluke, he should be elected, Bernie would be a powerless president who wouldn’t get anything done. The GOP still controls Congress, and that fact is unlikely to change any time soon.
Bernie’s answer to this is not to elect more Democrats and take control of Congress. No, he expects to “have millions of people” descend on Congress and pressure them to pass his program.
Suddenly, masses of people are going to take to the streets on behalf of socialism? That’s not going to happen, and, even if it did, you can bet they would be met by an equal or greater number of well-armed teabaggers. We already have a divided electorate. Moving beyond our divisions will not be accomplished by dueling mobs pressuring Congress.
Six. If, again by some fluke, Bernie’s program were actually enacted, it doesn’t have a prayer of working. For one thing, the numbers are way off. Economists of a liberal bent have said Bernie’s economic plan is somewhere between 1 and 3 trillion dollars short. Austan Goulsbee says Bernie’s plan started with “puppies and rainbows” and “evolved into magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets tied to their collars.”
Why Hillary again?
She understands that the first priority is defeating the Republicans. You can’t take on the 1% until you defeat their “political action wing”. So far, Hillary has raised $32,000,000 for Democrats and the Democratic Party. (Bernie has raised $1000.)
Her supporters know that Hillary Clinton has been one of the most lied-about politicians in American history. Her opponents gone through her entire life--every check she ever wrote, every phone call she ever made--and they have come up with precisely nothing every single time. Bernie calls her “corrupt.” Her supporters know that Hillary Clinton is one of the most ethical people in public life.
Yes, her husband did a good job--22 million jobs in the longest sustained period of prosperity in our nation’s history. And Hillary is smarter and tougher than he is.