Monday, February 29, 2016

I'm With Her

In 2008, I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. I would have backed Hillary in the general, happily. But I saw Obama as somewhat to Hillary's left, and I saw him as a superior campaigner who would make a stronger candidate.

This year, I am voting for Hillary Clinton. She is strongest general election candidate the Democrats have this year, she will make a more effective president than any other Democrat in the field, and she is far better qualified than any other candidate in either party. My decision could not be simpler.

I am to Hillary Clinton's left myself, just as I was and am to Barack Obama's left. (Nor have I ever been surprised to find myself on Obama's left. I knew who I was voting for in 2008, and Obama has proved to be pretty much who I thought he was.) I accept that I am much more liberal than the median American voter. If I want to see a president of the United States as liberal as I am, the whole country has to move left first. That movement will never happen during a presidential election; the presidential election will ratify a movement that has already happened.

Do Hillary's centrist instincts sometimes frustrate me? Yup. Absolutely. But the way to move her left is to shift the terms of debate left. And Hillary's long political track record demonstrates, without question, that she moves to the left as the progressive policy consensus moves left. She has done it repeatedly, on issues across the spectrum. Some of Hillary's critics point to positions she once took, often twenty years ago, that contradict her positions today. But that is one of the reasons I'm voting for her. She has moved left. And she does not cling to her former positions out of any rigidity or misguided pride. She will continue to move left as our policy debates evolve. America has real problems that need solving, and almost all the best solutions lie in the left side of the spectrum (simply because almost every workable conservative idea, and more than one unworkable conservative idea, has already been tried). The center is going to move to the left because of reality's liberal bias. Hillary Clinton's realism will move her further to the left over time.

Bernie Sanders is much closer to me ideologically. I agree with him about where we ought to go as a country, and where we should end up. But he is not great about explaining the details off how we get there, and I am not persuaded that Bernie would get us there. He is no Barack Obama. He has virtues that Obama doesn't, and Obama has strengths that Bernie doesn't. Bernie is not nearly the same campaigner. And Bernie's policy proposals are not built around what he can actually achieve in the near or intermediate future. Bernie's campaign is great about what we ought to do, but much fuzzier about the means. I have more faith in Hillary to get me as much progress as the next four years allow.
What about the scandals? What about them? I'm old enough at this point to remember twenty-four years of persistent talk about Hillary scandals, scandals that never quite turn into anything solid.

Some people say that Hillary isn't trustworthy, that where there is so much smoke there must be some fire. But it's been a quarter century of smoke without fire, so it's fair to ask if the endless smoke isn't something else entirely. It's not that "people" don't trust Hillary. It's that people, specific individuals, work very hard to paint Hillary as untrustworthy. That isn't a reason for me not to trust her. It's a reason for me to rally around her. I'm tired of her being attacked. And after years of all-out, scorched-earth political warfare, I am not about to abandon a seasoned warrior. We're going to fight for everything we get, no matter how big we win in November. And Hillary is the best fighter. She's the best choice, and I'm with her.

cross-posted from, and all comments welcome at, Dagblog

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