I’m not waiting for a miracle candidate. To spell it out simply so you won’t misinterpret:
- Neither candidate matches my ideology completely. Neither is leading a movement that encompasses everything I want for the world. Both have blind spots, and should do more to work beyond their biases and privileges as white, affluent Americans (a project for many of us, whatever our sources of privilege may be).
- I doubt there will be a viable candidate in my lifetime that perfectly matches my ideology. Therefore, ideology is not the only criteria I can make my decision on, or I could never vote.
- However, there will be candidates that will enact policies that move the country in the right direction. Those policies will save people’s lives.
- There are also politicians trying to move the country in the wrong direction. Their policies will do significant, immediate harm beyond the problems of the status quo.
- This year, all the GOP candidates are moving things the wrong way, and both Hillary and Bernie want to move things the right way on most issues.
- Bernie’s strategy is to identify problems and suggest a bold alternative vision, without worrying about the process to get us there. Hillary does the opposite: she explains a feasible process for reforms, but spends little time harping on the problems or presenting a vision for a radically different future. I happen to think that they share roughly the same values underneath wildly different political strategies. I think Hillary is far more progressive than you make her out to be, but I don’t have time to spell that case out right now. (And somehow I’m not sure you’d take it seriously, anyway…)
- I think the biggest stumbling block to progressive reform is GOP opposition. And that isn’t just an issue of corporate influence or oligarchy— many citizens are conservative as well, and they vote.
- Given that opposition, I think Hillary’s more centrist ideology will not be the limiting factor on the progressive reforms that can be made. I don’t think that Bernie’s more left perspective will significantly broaden the scope of what is possible in the next decade.
- However, political skill will be a huge factor in how much will get done. a) Diplomatic relations will be vital, in preventing war, enacting fair trade, and making progress on fighting climate change. (Industrializing nations will continue to increase emissions unless the global community acts. Developing nations will bare the humanitarian burden of climate change. The environment is a diplomatic issue.) b) Being able to organize a talented and diverse team of policy experts will be important to effectively leverage the regulatory power of the executive branch. c) Choosing good Supreme Court appointees will be essential for ensuring the viability of progressivism for decades to come. d) Supporting down-ballot Dems is essential to getting reforms passed, and for ensuring that young, liberal/leftist talent develops to lead in the next decade.
- I think Hillary wins on all of the practical considerations listed there.
- I think Hillary’s “triangulation” can be an advantage, as it means that political movements and organized citizens can sway her decisions in the right direction. It does require engagement on the part of the voters, however, and does present a risk if the popular sentiment is rallied behind destructive causes.
We have two flawed candidates. I think Hillary is the flawed candidate for the moment. If you wanted to convince me that Bernie is the best choice, you’d have to prove that:
- Fiery rhetoric, uncompromising ideological stances, and an ability to inspire the base are more important qualities for a President than policy knowledge and competent, strategic governance to both the short-term and long-term success of the progressive project (by which I mean protecting the vulnerable and building a more just world).
- That even though racism, misogyny, colonialism, and class inequality are all interconnected oppressive forces, a narrow focus on wealth inequality is the solution. I would find that extremely hard to accept as a general principle, but I am open to an argument about why it might be what we should prioritize in the moment.
- That Bernie’s base, on the whole, is genuinely amenable to intersectional progressivism, and is not just a left-wing version of the Trump/Tea Party’s angry populism. Revolutions are dangerous, and the result of most revolutions is that they replace one ruling elite with another. Populist movements have been historically linked with a rise in xenophobia and racism. Leftist social movements have often ignored and marginalized women. I think Bernie’s movement could do more harm than good if it doesn’t excise its misogynistic, racist rabble-rousers. The fact that we need a revolution doesn’t make this a good revolution. Prove that it is.
- Prove that Bernie’s revolution will translate into a new type of politician being elected in down-ballot races or in future presidential elections. Prove that the enthusiasm is sustainable (it wasn’t really with Barack Obama). In Wisconsin, a large number of Bernie supporters failed to vote in the Supreme Court election, electing an extremely right-wing Scott Walker crony (details: http://www.salon.com/2016/04/07/this_is_the_problem_with_bernies_revolution_how_one_down_ticket_election_in_wisconsin_shows_the_flaw_in_his_political_movement/). A successful movement can’t survive on a president alone.
- Prove that Hillary’s administration won’t be responsive to progressive concerns, when she’s being elected by the support of the black and Hispanic communities and women. She’s been addressing racial inequality explicitly since the start of her campaign (her first speech was on criminal justice reform), and has asked explicitly that we hold her accountable (this was in her Harlem speech). I’m not so naive to think her instincts are always correct, but I think she can be held accountable. Prove to me that a stubborn, unresponsive president with better — but not perfect — stats on “getting it right” in the past is preferable to someone who can be swayed by criticism.
(I’ll ignore all your dismissive, condescending comments about how I can’t expect a leader to care about what I do; or that all the “black intellectuals” are on Bernie’s side, which is both blatantly false and pretty close to the offensive “low-information”/Confederacy bullshit that the Sander side has been throwing around. And I wasn’t saying you needed to have read that blog post ahead of time; it’s just seems pretty hypocritical to dismiss it as irrelevant without reading it, and then continue to ignore it because you haven’t heard of the source and the aesthetic of the blog bothers you. And my feminism is hardly limited to having trans friends or worrying about “Safe Spaces.” I care about constantly challenging the kyriarchy to eliminate oppressive hierarchies of power in order to build a more just, equitable, and healthy world based on radical compassion, pluralism, and free self-determination. But yeah, that’s trivial.)