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Sunday
Apr032016

I feel the Bern, but I would love to see Hillary as President

Bernie Sanders is my type of politician. A dishevelled cranky old man, not afraid to call himself a socialist and willing to remain an outsider his whole career? Yes please. I've followed his career for more than 10 years, as the only politician that struck a cord with me when I moved to America. I'd love to see more like him in the Senate, and hopefully on the Supreme Court too.

Hillary Clinton is a woman I admire immensely (and I'm not alone, she has been the most admired woman in the world for 20 times in a row). She has stayed strong and true to herself despite 25 years of the most vitriolic attacks in political history. In today's world it is often easy (especially for men, and younger women) to forget just how ground-breaking she was. Hillary broke through the glass ceiling again and again in her legal career, and when Bill's political career took off she got an enormous amount of criticism for not fading into the background, only to be heard of when giving out cookie recipes. I've wanted Hillary to be President since 2008, when the policy wonk in me preferred her 20-point plans to Obama's Americana rhetoric.

When there are two good candidates (a problem Republicans would love to have!), why do I prefer Hillary?

First, I admire Hillary's heart. Hillary and Bernie have very similar politics*. But Bernie's progressivism is driven by righteous anger (like mine), while Hillary's is driven by compassion and love (like Lydia's). Always has been, going back to her highschool days. Bernie has had the luxury of being himself in public, while Hillary has had to hide that behind a public persona**, thanks to her position and the double standards of sexism. But the heart shines through. 

Second, I think Hillary has a better shot at winning the general election, and this will be one of the most important elections in American history. I know, Bernie-bros, that right now Sanders has better general election polling than Clinton. But the difference is, no one has ever run an attack ad against Sanders. You are dreaming if you think that the Republicans will pull their punches, and Sanders (like everyone) has dirty laundry that will be aired. There is nothing new that can be raised against Hillary - the Republicans ran out of real attacks years ago, and even their manufactured pseudo-scandals have been pre-factored in with the polls. And let's not forget - Sanders is not even winning Democrats - at the moment he has 2.5 million fewer votes in the primaries, and (except online) more Democrats are enthusiastic about Hillary than Bernie.

Third, symbols matter. Progressive politics is not just about the White House, it is about transforming society. Probably the most important transformation is one of equal opportunity. This needs to happen not just from the top, but also from the ground-up, which means every child needs to really feel like they have opportunity. With Obama, a whole generation of black kids have grown up knowing that a black man can become a great President. With Hillary Clinton, girls will finally have a role model succeeding to the very top. Will it end sexism? Of course not, but it will provide strength and inspiration to some women to defy sexism.

Fourth, I just think Hillary Clinton would make a better President. The President is not a King. The President needs to assemble a team of the very best, and then negotiate with some of the worst (most importantly, the Senate). Hillary has the A-team already lined up, the very best of Bill and Obama's team, plus her own network from an entire lifetime in service to the Democratic party. Plus, Hillary knows how to negotiate in the Senate. As Senator for New York, she was well recognised by both parties as being the person to cross the aisle and get deals through. Hillary may not be the natural in public that Bill or Obama are, but in these small groups she shines. How about Bernie? One of the most progressive Senators, Barny Frank, is blunt: "Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments and that’s because of the role he stakes out". I love the fact that the guy is pure, but being unwilling to negotiate often means you get nothing. Like the way he voted against the auto-bailout, which he liked, because it included the bank-bailout, which ended up making money. Ultimately, I want a Democrat President who can get progressives onto the Supreme Court, and I think that Hillary's negotiation skills will do more than Bernie's ultimatums***. 

So, Hillary Clinton / Cory Booker 2016!

 

*They voted the same 93% of the time in the Senate. And the 7% difference was not always with Bernie to the left. On financial regulation he was mostly to the left of Hillary, but on guns and science Bernie was to the right.

** Which is not to say that she is dishonest, just justifiably guarded. Objective fact-checking puts Hillary as the most honest candidate in the race. Bernie is not far behind, and both are miles better than the Republicans

*** Not to mention, Hillary's willingness to raise money to get more Democrats elected. Those expensive fundraisers that Bernie criticises Hillary for? Most of the money goes to down-ticket Democrats. Bernie's never raised money for other Democrats

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