My last blog post focused on how I wouldn’t take a firm stand for either Sanders or Clinton on my Twitter timeline or my blog. My view was that both candidates are qualified, both on their worse day are far better than any Republican candidate on their best and it was important to respect both campaigns and remain solid in order to keep the White House and take back the Senate.
Since that time I’ve read numerous posts on my feed from the so-called “Bernie Bots” often called the “Bernie or Bust” crowd not only going after Clinton, but her supporters. Now it’s true that some of the reverse has also been occurring. However, from my difficult perspective of remaining neutral, I’ve not only seen more vitriol from the Bernie supporters, I have found it to be less factual and frankly more childish than from the Clinton supporters.
Now this is not a reflection on Bernie Sanders himself, but a reflection of some of his more intense followers. This isn’t like what the GOP has with a Vienna sausage fingered Orange Julius buffoon inciting a cadre of Brown Shirt wannabees, this is an ethical and well-meaning candidate who sadly has some unhelpful followers oblivious to the big picture. Polling shows that 30% of Sanders followers would not support Hillary Clinton were she to win the nomination. On the other hand, a higher percentile of Hillary supporters will vote for Sanders should he win.
When asked on twitter by someone I’ve followed for years and he back, started egging me to disclose who I was favoring I was taken aback. Not by his question but his tactic to convince me what an untrustworthy criminal Hillary was. He was using easily disprovable bullet points that’s been out there for years. He was passing innuendo as fact, he was doing to her what the rightwing has been doing to her since Bill took office in 1993. He wouldn’t let up and took offense when I questioned his facts. So I unfollowed and muted him because I found him annoying. However I started getting more inquiries from the Sanders supporters using the same overblown hyperbolic rhetoric against Hillary, while not providing anything factual to support Sanders. It got me to thinking and I started analyzing the data. As a result, today I made it clear on my timeline that although I will still vote “Blue No Matter Who” in November my preference is Hillary Clinton. Here’s why:
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have nearly equal voting records in the Senate, in fact its 93%. On only two key issues did they vote otherwise, the Authorization for Use of Force in Iraq and Blanket immunity for gun manufacturers. Bernie took the correct stance on the War authorization and Hillary on the immunity. More than anything, Hillary’s vote allowed Obama to take the nomination from her in 2008. However, let’s be real, hers was not the deciding vote. Quite the contrary, a majority of Democratic Senators and Members of the House voted for the resolution in light of the political atmosphere that existed at the time. Was it cowardly? I’d say so. Was it wrong? Certainly. Should it be held over her head indefinitely? Not unless she stands by that vote and won’t accept it was wrong. She’s accepted she made a mistake on that vote.
Now on the Gun Manufacturer Immunity Vote Sanders was wrong. A case could be made that coming from Vermont, it was the politically correct thing to do to keep his seat. Was his vote cowardly? I’d say so. Was it wrong? Certainly. Should it be held over his head indefinitely? Not unless he stands by that vote and accept it was wrong. Well, he’s doubled down on that vote and won’t accept the harm it creates for victims of gun violence in holding gun manufacturers civilly liable for creating a product that causes harm. In fact one manufacturer is putting on the market a .32 caliber handgun that can be disguised as a cellphone. What good use would that be? Why shouldn’t the family of someone killed by such a weapon not sue the manufacturer? Bernie won’t talk about that.
The art of politics, especially when you have been in it for as long as both Hillary and Bernie is that you are going to be on the wrong side of an issue at some point and when that happens, you can either alter your views or double down on them. Nobody is always right from day one. Hillary’s views have evolved over time, she has acknowledged mistakes her husband has made in office too (his mistakes not hers). Although a proponent for the TPP, she is now opposed to it responding to the voice of the people. She’s learned from the mistake of Free Trade agreements. She’s also evolved about LGBTs rights. She’s recognized the crime act supported by the Black Caucus at the time turned out to be bad for Minorities and no longer supports it. She learns from mistakes. Obama has learned from his mistakes too and has evolved. Sadly, he still holds firm to TPP, but I’m not going to throw him out of office and discount all his other accomplishments over this one issue. No politician is perfect and Bernie is also a politician. But he has yet to acknowledge doing anything wrong. That troubles me.
As for experience, well Hillary has served as first lady in Arkansas and the White House. As such she’s seen first-hand political operations at both the State and National level. She’s been an advocate for women’s rights around the world as first lady. She was a very successful and popular Senator from the State of New York and she was a successful and consequential Secretary of State. She helped build the coalition that assisted Obama in getting Iran to the table to discuss ending their nuclear ambitions and despite the cries from the GOP and FOX, she was very much involved with and very successful in representing the views of the United States throughout the world helping bringing back our credibility lost during the Bush administration. And no, she wasn’t responsible for Benghazi despite the multiple hearing put on to say she did. The evidence isn’t there. In fact she’s been the subject of attacks for nearly 30 years, nothing has come to pass against her. You might say she is the most vetted candidate for president ever. Bernie has yet to be fully vetted by the GOP or media. Keep in mind despite his polling now, were he to get the nomination, could he withstand the same ferocity of attacks as Hillary has? For our voting public, labeling him a Stalinist or Marxist Socialist would have an impact of his approvals by the center right independents that he would need to win the White House. He’s not used to being attacked on a national level, Hillary is battle tested. Sanders’ experience in office, in international diplomacy and in getting attacked doesn’t begin to compare to Hillary.
Now despite his popularity and views of his supporters, a Sanders win for the nomination is at best a long shot still. The math doesn’t add up for him under the DNC rules. It’s very unlikely it will happen. That is a difficult realization for his supporters to accept, they can complain about a rigged system and they could very well be right, but it’s the same rigged system that gave Obama the nomination in 2008. That is a fact. What’s more, especially if Trump is the nominee, the turn out for Clinton would be record breaking. Forget head to head match-ups with Clinton v Trump, Sanders v Trump, Clinton v Cruz, Sanders v Cruz, they mean nothing because they are based on national trends, not state electoral college analysis which varies significantly from national polling. As such today for instance, Clinton beats Trump 347 to 191.
Finally, for an establishment outsider I do have issue with Bernie Sanders. Although he “caucuses” with the Democrats, he has always railed against both parties, almost saying like many that both parties are the same (they’re not and I’m an independent). He hates the establishment but has resorted to using the establishment to win the presidency. Were he true to his word and ideals, he would run as an independent, not a Democrat. He’s become a Democrat out of convenience, not loyalty. I find that disingenuous. At least he promises to support Hillary should she win, as should all of his supporters.
Again, I could be wrong and Sanders may pull this off but the odds are against him. Either way, rather than being purists like those in the Tea Party, keep your options open, be accepting of differing views and perspectives for getting the right thing done and Vote Blue No Matter Who in November.