Why should I vote for Bernie? February 5, 2016Posted by mareserinitatis in Politics.
Tags: bernie, clinton, democratic nomination, politics, presidency, sanders
I don’t too often veer into overtly political topics, but I keep getting this question and this seems as good as any place to discuss my views openly. (If you’re a republican or non-American and couldn’t figure it out from the title, this post will most likely not be of interest to you.) I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter (having been a fan of his since his early days in congress) and I’ve been asked why I would vote for him rather than Clinton.
Don’t you want the US to finally have a female president?
Yes, I do. But in this case, principles are a bit more important than a uterus.
Now that we have that out of the way, I want to make one thing expressly clear: I think both of them are immensely qualified. They both vote similarly 90% of the time. I don’t think either of them would be a bad president, but that’s not the issue in securing the nomination. The question is, in my mind, which one would be a better president?
In my mind, the biggest difference is their definitions of success. Bernie wants to be a public servant, and Clinton wants to be elected. I’m not saying it’s bad to want to be elected, but I don’t think that should be the primary driver for a public servant. Bernie is extremely constant in his views and that hasn’t changed over the tenure of his time in congress unless his constituents have requested something to change. Clinton has made a lot of very good career moves, but I really think they’ve been a lot more about securing her position than about the people she serves.
For instance, it has always bothered me that she went to New York to become a senator rather than back to Arkansas. It was no doubt a smart move, but it wasn’t a very principled one.
Another example is the Trans Pacific Partnership (which I am very disappointed that Obama has signed). This was something that Clinton had been pushing for when she was in congress. Bernie has been against it since day one. However, with it becoming clear that Bernie was going to be her main competitor (and to some extent, O’Malley), she waffled for a while and then finally came out against it. It isn’t just a shift: it’s a complete 180 from her previous position. It’s become clear that Clinton has been making a swing to the left to get primary voters. Guess what she’ll do for the general election to pick up undecideds from the republican voters: shift to the right.
I would like to know what I’m voting for, for a change. And I suspect that Bernie isn’t going to change his views just to pick up voters. He doesn’t need to because it’s pretty clear he has most voters’ interests as his primary concern, unlike most politicians who are encumbered by the lobbyists.
A pretty common critique is that Bernie is unrealistic and because he is so principled, he won’t be able to get anything done while Clinton is claiming that she’s “a progressive that gets things done.” I can’t vouch for the Clinton claim (though I don’t personally agree with it), but I can say that the criticism of Bernie is completely uncalled for. All you have to do is look at the fact that he’s a democratic candidate. If he was so principled as to not accomplish anything, he would’ve run as an independent and you probably wouldn’t have any idea who he was unless you belong to that particular group of fringe voters and politicos. His existence as a democratic candidate upends that argument.
The final consideration is what you’re hoping to get out of a democratic nominee should s/he become president. The political winds, in congress at least, are blowing to the right. Obama certainly hasn’t accomplished what he wanted. I don’t suspect that would change for either Bernie or Clinton. In fact, I actually think Clinton will be at a disadvantage relative to Bernie on this front. Clinton is…well…a Clinton. All of the vitriol that the right had for Bill Clinton is going to be aimed front and center at his wife. Bernie has an advantage in that he has learned over a few decades how to deal with congress. He also has a strong set of principles. Conservatives typically appreciate that more than compromise, something that the left tends to underestimate.
By having a strong set of principles that, to some extent, appeal to the right (particularly veterans) as well as an ability to work with congress, Bernie is set up to be able to get at least some legislation through. Clinton could do the same but her approach will be to move to the right in order to do so. This means that the things we could see coming from a Clinton administration will be very much in line with what has been coming from the Obama administration. While that’s better than what would happen should a republican presidency take place, I think Bernie could actually shift the center just a bit farther away from corporate interests.