Thursday, August 27, 2015

Feeling the Bern

One of the really terrible things about politics is how unfair it can be.

Several months ago, I wrote a blog entry about Hillary Clinton's candidacy for President in which I expressed tepid support for her.

I grew up in an Arkansas where Hillary Clinton was a respected leader who seemed genuinely focused on moving the state forward.  I like her a lot on a personal level.  In fact, one of the reasons why the GOP opposes her because she is smart and competent and would be a very effective President.

If politics were fair, she would be our first female President.  She's spent a lifetime in service to the greater good, and she has the intelligence and judgment and charisma to be among our most effective presidents.  But politics isn't fair.

It could be that this is just the silly season in American politics.  During the summer, nobody wants to talk about serious things.  I've heard almost no substantive discussion about policy on either side.  Rather, the coverage of the presidential campaign has focused on the "horse race"--who's up, who's down--on Hillary Clinton's email server, and on how the GOP candidates are trying one-up each other with bombast and slurs.

That doesn't advance the interests of the nation.

I wonder sometimes if the media aren't doing it this way because they recognize that the electoral math for the Republicans is so bad that they have no real chance of taking the White House.  The GOP is distinctly a minority party.  They will take a majority of white men's votes; their electoral strategy must rest on either (a) minimizing turnout among minorities and women or (b) capturing votes from minorities and women who are confused about which party advances their interests.

Blacks will likely vote 90%+ for the Democrat; Hispanics will likely vote 65%+ for the Democrat.  The overt racism of the Republican candidates, especially their fascist leader Donald Trump, isn't going to make option (b) a possibility.  Trump isn't the only frightening GOP candidate; in fact, each of the GOP candidates is frightening in his or her own way.

So, returning to the main topic:  There is a lot to like about Hillary Clinton, but from a policy perspective, she just doesn't do anything for me.  Her campaign is funded primarily by those who have the least to gain (immediately, anyway) from implementing the policies I want implemented--mostly Wall Street.  There might have been a time in American politics when campaign contributions didn't carry much weight in policy, but to the extent it ever existed, it doesn't anymore.

I cannot trust Hillary Clinton to be on the right side when it comes to middle-class economic issues (the biggest of which is that 35 years of Reaganomics have left us without much of a middle class).  I'm sorry to say that, but it's true.  Goldman Sachs will still run things if she is elected.

In the same post four months ago, I knocked Bernie Sanders' candidacy using the two knocks that anyone has been able to use against him:  He's 73, and he's a socialist.  That, too, is unfair.  He seems to be in great health.  As for being a socialist, he clarifies that he's a democratic socialist, and while I respect that most American troglodytes can't figure out what that means, see Obama, Barack, there is time to define it in a way that people can relate to.  The truth is that Bernie's positions align with a majority of Americans on almost every issue.  We're not a nation of racist xenophobes who want to deport all the brown people and give more money to plutocratic billionaires; that view commands barely a fifth of the electorate, plus probably another fifth who are abortion voters.

People want the government to work better, to be a facilitator of economic growth, to give poor folks a hand up, and to be a governor on the 1% whose only care is accumulating more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes.  People want bridges to be safe, they want cheap access to high-speed internet, they want good public schools that teach kids how to think rather than just how to take tests.  They want healthcare insurance that allows them to get the treatment they need quickly and effectively.  They want responsible action on the environment and international trade.  They want an end to banks that are "too big to fail."  They want the minimum wage to be raised, and they want Social Security benefits to be increased.

Bernie Sanders is for all of those things, because that's what a democratic socialist is.  Hillary is for some of them, not for others, and on some, she won't say.

We are a long way from voting, and a lot can happen during that time.  But if the election were held today, Bernie would get my vote over Hillary.  His policies are what we need to make sure we are a great nation for generations to come.  We can have these nice things.

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