It’s been a hot minute since I wrote on this sombitch, but 2016 is an election year in the U.S., and political discourse has a way of igniting a fire in my heart like so many wayward matches left on forest floors. It’s a polarizing time in the U.S. and any time the subject of Presidential candidates comes up, you’re bound to be verbally assaulted no matter who you support. But I’ve always enjoyed the attack. Defending one’s opinion should not be something we fear to do. If your convictions are strong enough, they will withstand any bombardment, just like the energy field protecting the Rebel outpost on the planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.
Living in Seattle, I am surrounded by Bernard “Bernie” Sanders supporters. I even took one of those online tests to see who aligns with my political values and Bernard came closest. We both support the public option in health care, higher taxes on the 1%, and a robust environmental policy. I’m not completely sold on free college education yet, but I think it’s a “nice to have” once we reach that far-off American utopia. I believe Mr. Sanders to be a person of conviction, steadfast moral principles, and a true progressive in every sense of the word. However, despite this conjunction of heart strings and personal truths, Mr. Sanders is not who I intend to cast my ballot for in the Washington caucus (March 26) later this month. If he wins the Democratic nomination, I will wholeheartedly support him, but there is another candidate who I think is better prepared to fight the GOP war machine, and that….you guessed it, is Hillary Clinton.
I can hear the collective moans now. From my friends and associates. From my family. But life has taught me to be pragmatic above all else. I voted for Obama twice and have absolutely no regrets, but even I knew when he was elected (along with a filibuster-proof Senate and a huge majority in the House), that the progress he’d make would fall short of his lofty goals. I say this with no disrespect, as I feel as though President Obama tried to offer compromise in his early months, but the “My Way or the Highway” mantra of the GOP derailed bipartisan efforts. I do believe his successes will go down in history as great leaps forward: Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act (which does need improvement), saving the American auto industry (their bailout was paid back with interest), and investing in renewable energy. I believe him to be a good man, and a good leader. I am proud of those votes.
Bernie affects my emotions in a similar way. But from a tactical point of view, I also see baked-in weaknesses for him as a general election candidate: a 74-year old who has never run against the full barrage of Republican chainsaws. Keep in mind, Senator Sanders is elected from one of the most liberal states in the U.S. [Vermont] and has never had serious competition from the Right. His judgement may be good on legislative votes, but he has virtually no foreign policy experience. When asked in the first Democratic debate how much he’d have to raise taxes to pay for his ambitious plans, he wasn’t even certain. He did offer a subsequent answer in a later debate, but how does one run for President and not even know their economic plan’s specifics until a few months after they decide to run? Besides, the Republicans are not going to lose the House (it’s gerrymandered all to hell until after the next census), so none of Bernie’s plans are happening, folks. They are a cruise ship brochure, only you won’t be getting on board because the GOP controls U.S. Customs.
On the other side, Hillary is definitely an old war horse with lots of baggage. She’s notoriously calculated and hardly a “people person”. She comes off as fake and her public statements often shift with the wind. Her persona reads as a standard politician, and I understand why people don’t like her. However, in this candidate, I also see a woman with a locomotive drive who has withstood virtual nuclear assaults from the GOP since 1992. Yet here she is, and stronger than ever. Resilient. Familiar with manipulating the levers of power in Washington, and someone who opponents fear on both sides of the aisle. Will she get a lot done? Probably not with a GOP House, but she’s a crafty shrew and I believe she’ll be quicker on the draw with executive orders than a President Sanders. She’s hardly a liberal’s teddy bear to inspire cuddles and promises of a perfect society, but rather a Valkyrie in cold armor navigating the treacherous hurricane of Washington’s power base. She is a flawed candidate, but an impressive bulwark against a Republican party now controlled by nefarious fringe (and racist) elements. She’s like a Hoover Dam against a flood of cruelty and hate. Practical, even if she’s somewhat menacing to look at.
History is a good teacher, and I suspect that no matter which Democrat wins the White House in 2016 (well, assuming they do), they will likely be a one term President. Bernie will be pushing 80 in a job that already ages a normal man faster than any other on the planet. Heck, Reagan wasn’t even that old when he assumed the Presidency and even he was getting a little nutty by the end of his first term. Hillary, if elected, will continue to be a scandal magnet and I think by 2020, Clinton fatigue could be a very real problem. Barring some major economic bloom that happens under her watch, I think the American people will be ready to move on. The Left will find a new, younger champion (perhaps Corey Booker, D-NJ) and the Right – having learned the scorched-earth lessons of this year’s childish and bizarre primary campaign – will anoint a moderate face with a better chance of winning. Perhaps Marcobot 2.0 (with optional mobile app features).