Hillary Clinton campainged in Maine, September 18, 2015, energizing supporters. Photo by Ramona du Houx
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the presidential race. As a democratic socialist it seemed obvious to me that I would support Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race. I have followed his career, and supported him, since I first moved to Vermont in 1972. I was a member of the Liberty Union Party, for Pete's sake, and Bernie's success in Vermont politics coincided with the political and cultural changes we wanted to make as part of the "back to the land" movement that brought so many war-weary and politically alienated young people to Vermont as a place to learn and help create changes on a workable scale.
But I have had an increasingly uncomfortable feeling as I watched the campaign unfold. Bernie is talking about a political revolution in ways that make no sense to me. The American system dampens the possibility of radical change through the ballot box. There is no third party/proportional representation. I can't imagine him leading as much as a change in the majority party in the House and there is no way any of his more dramatic proposals have any chance of passing given the composition of Congress--which is very unlikely to change radically in the near/medium future. Hope and Change struck me as utopian vagueness in 2008 and Bernie is doubling down.
I'm tired of idealistic campaign rhetoric. When Trump talks about we're just gonna win, win, win, big wall, smack China, we know it's all bluster. Bernie talks about single payer and free college tuition for all but that is no more realistic with this Congress than a magic wall. I don't even WANT free college tuition for affluent young people. In some countries they can do it because relatively few go to universities--not so here. It's completely unbelievable.
And then I watched the debates. I have a lot of reservations about Hillary Clinton. There are things she has done and votes, e.g., Iraq, she has cast that I can't accept. But I watched the debates. She is intelligent, composed, knowledgeable across the board. We can argue about labels but Clinton is a liberal with a liberal voting record. Is she too hawkish? I think so. I think she is too pro-Israel. But I don't think she's reckless. She had positions and rhetoric on criminal justice twenty years ago that I didn’t like but I think she has learned and grown as progressive people do.
And unlike Obama, whom I respect greatly, she would not make the mistake of thinking her personal charisma will create a kumbaya wave in Washington. She knows the Republicans well enough to call them "my enemy." She will go after them rather than try to convert them.
Finally, I am sick of the Hillary-bashing. I can't think of another politician in my conscious lifetime who has caught more shit than she, from people making the White House travel office a cause celebre to accusing her of killing her friend, Vince Foster, to Whitewater, to being (gasp!) a lesbian, or shrew, or thick-legged (gasp, again) to Benghazi, to ... fill in the blank. And it is misogynistic. I know people who consider her laughably dishonest and I ask them, what exactly, has she lied about? Oh, they say, everyone knows--because they have been exposed to relentless bashing of her that has not been refuted strongly enough by people on the left.
I am a socialist feminist. I believe there is no true socialism without feminism and no true feminism without socialism. I have worked in various ways to further both causes. As a citizen of the country I have a more particular responsibility to vote for the person I think is best qualified at this particular moment for what can well be considered the most important position in the world. I have decided that is Hillary Clinton.
This Editorial frist appeared on the DailyKos