An uncommited New Yorker makes a choice.
I’ve helped my friends who were supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to register to vote and to navigate the byzantine process that is voting in a New York election. I’ve given them advice on what to do about affidavit ballots and court orders, and armed them with knowledge about their candidates and calmed their anxieties about who they might be voting for. I’ve critiqued each candidates’ campaign publicly, but I’ve also elevated the things that make them great leaders and candidates. I’ve known about Hillary Clinton for a long time now, and within the past year, I’ve gotten to know a lot more about Bernie Sanders. I have worked closely with both campaigns to ensure that the Asian American community is being engaged and galvanized by each candidate’s message. However, after a year of being uncommitted, I’m here to say that I am with Secretary Clinton.
I identify as an academic and a community organizer. It’s in this lens that I have come to the conclusion that she is the best candidate and will become the next President of the United States. Clinton has a long record of delivering concrete policy changes that are well-planned, and strategic. While they are changes which I personally may not necessarily fully agree with, they are nonetheless commendable and impressive. Clinton continues President Obama’s legacy of incremental social and economic justice, moving the ball a little bit forward, and securing that space so that others in the future can build on it.
I believe when long-time party activists and organizers in the party say they have worked hard to build their party, and that they have every right to elect the candidate they trust and know the most to their party. A candidate that has a record of sustained, long-term contact with their community, and as well as advocacy on their behalf. I don’t think they’re misguided or have poor judgment at all. Those Democrats have a right not to be second-guessed or characterized as out of touch, or conservative because you will find that historically they are quite informed, thoughtful and strategic about who they vote for.
The way citizens participate in United States electoral politics is within the context of a two-party system. If you don’t recognize that context, you’re in danger of misreading or misunderstanding its revolutionary possibilities that Senator Sanders believes it has (if any).
In a two-party system, it is in the best interests of each party to appeal to as large a number of people as possible given their various interests, and if they govern those interests well, they are rewarded with another term. It’s for this reason that the Democratic future is one that is both more left and more center, to accommodate new Democrats who are younger and registered as Democrats to vote for Bernie Sanders, and further to the center to accommodate the moderates (corporate-manager types who were part of the moderate wing of the Republican Party prior to Trump). The next Democratic president will need to be able to govern and competently balance these interests in order to earn a second term. I believe Hillary Clinton is the best person who can do so.
I agree with Clinton supporter and major fundraiser George Clooney who has said this week that Bernie Sanders should stay in the race “for the entire election.” The newer voters that Sanders has attracted, as well as the more experienced Democrats who look to him as their standard bearer should certainly continue to vote for him as I have no doubt they will continue to do. Sanders is an incredibly sophisticated politician who takes advantage of Hillary Clinton’s own populist tendencies and desire to front whatever may be popular, as evinced by her political work during her husband’s campaign and administration, and in recent years. Bernie Sanders knows exactly what he’s doing, and the country will be a better place because of him when she is elected president in November.
Bernie Sanders is the best leader of a social movement that I have ever witnessed, but leading a social movement is different than governing and being a chief executive officer, something that New Yorkers are ostensibly voting on tomorrow.
Being president is more than just about embodying social, political and economic justice. It’s also about cunningly and strategically planning your next wins, and executing those plans given a limited field of possible decisions and compromises in deadlocked legislative conditions. Simply put, I do not think Sanders has the ability to create the kinds of coalition contexts needed to make concrete and landmark achievements. I think Hillary Clinton can pick up where President Barack Obama has fallen short, and can keep pushing the ball forward. If I could, I would vote for Bernie Sanders’ policies and for Hillary Clinton to execute but I think that choosing her will do exactly that.
Some of those closest to me might feel betrayed. Those friends should know that I have been uncommitted for a whole year now and have always sought to incisively critique and articulate each candidates’ weakest points and shortcomings, and this support doesn't preclude me continuing to critique both candidates from a place that yearns for something revolutionary and transformational.
But I also know that the electoral system of the United States is always already a counter-revolutionary one. For communities of color and immigrants, we cannot wait on the untested and largely unknown quantity of someone whose only executive experience was being mayor and whose achievements have been largely legislative or symbolic in nature. We already been to that rodeo and it fell short of what we really needed. I wish Clinton and Sanders the best of luck tomorrow and Ill continue to share what I admire and dislike about them. While they may draw sharp differences between each other during the debates and while campaigning, these differences are ultimately about the right way to move America forward. Our party will elect the strongest leader come November.
Aries Dela Cruz is president of the Filipino American Democratic Club of New York and a member of West Harlem Progressive Democrats. His views are his own.