Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Some thoughts on the Democratic race

I haven't waded much into the Bernie/Hilary debate as of yet (note: because I am a sane person, this is the only question that interests me when it comes to the presidential race) because I honestly do not have a strong preference for either, and they both have qualities I admire. But from my perspective gained from years of study at the undergrad (poli-sci major) and graduate (Masters in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs​ in 2010) levels I am more in the Hilary camp for the following reasons:

- As the Obama administration should have taught anyone, you can have all the lofty ideas in the world as president, but without a Congress willing to work with you, your chances of implementing your agenda are greatly reduced. Due to the failings of the present electoral system (gerrymandered districts and plurality voting) it is nearly certain that the GOP will retain control of the House this fall. The Senate could tip either way, but likely not strongly toward either side. Thus getting any meaningful legislation passed will continue to be an uphill battle, and I think that Hilary has a better chance of success with this due to her experience and existing connections. For better or worse, she knows how to manipulate the levers of power as they are currently constructed, and, importantly, will be more willing to compromise to get things done.

-In a very personal sense, Hilary has lived with the GOP hate machine for 20+ years and knows what is coming. All of her negatives are, at this point, out in the open and she has learned to artfully deflect the inchoate rage her very existence inspires among the RWAs* to make them look like the blubbering fools that they are. I have no idea what skeletons are lurking in Bernie's closet, but I am not so naive to think that he does not have them and that they won't be brought to light in classic "October Surprise" fashion should he be the nominee, with potentially disastrous results.

-Not that Bernie would drag us back, but I do respect Hilary's foreign policy experience and am pretty certain she will build on the accomplishments Obama has made in restoring respect for the US around the world. Having been Secretary of State, Hilary is already used to dealing with the shady characters that have leadership positions in other nations and knows their pressure points. She is also well acquainted with both the potential and the limits of diplomacy in protecting our interests.

None of this is to say I dislike Bernie, or that I think he would be a bad president, but his election would not be a panacea for all of the problems we currently face as a nation. I get that Bernie inspires a lot of people, so did Obama. But the people who showed up for Obama in '08 and '12 sabotaged his presidency by not showing up in '10 and '14. And in order for Bernie's agenda to be fully implemented there would need to be changes at all levels of government, changes that would take several years to implement even in the most favorable of political environments, and sustained work from people committed to bringing those changes about. Showing up at the ballot box every four years is not enough, and while I am willing to give Bernie's people the benefit of the doubt, Hilary's people have a bit more of a track record for doing that out-of-the-spotlight grunt work that gets things done. Also, since a lot of Hilary's people are Boomer women on the verge of retirement, this means they will have a lot more time to devote to the activist work that can bring about better futures for their grandchildren.

Lastly, whoever wins the Democratic nomination, do not, I repeat for the love of Ted Kennedy DO NOT ask Elizabeth Warren to be your running mate. As a progressive I love her, but as a pragmatic progressive I love her most where she is right now: holding the fraudsters and crooks accountable from her increasingly powerful perch in the Senate. Making her VP would effectively hamstring her formidable expertise by putting her in a position where she would not have nearly enough influence on the issues when and where it matters, and it would remove one of your most important allies from Congress right when you need them most. Do yourselves a favor and pick one of the Castro brothers (Julian preferably) instead.

*Right-wing authoritarian

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