You know how sometimes you’re faced with a really hard choice where the pros and cons seem even and you just can’t make up your mind? And then you flip a coin, and while your quarter is spinning in the air, you realize which outcome you’re rooting for, and that’s how you make your decision?
That’s how picking a candidate for tomorrow’s primary has been for me this year. I like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both a lot and would happily vote for either one in the general. I’ve donated small sums to both candidates, watched most of the debates and followed their campaigns closely. Both are great candidates, IMO.
I first donated to the Sanders campaign as a protest: Like Sanders himself, I suspect, I didn’t think he’d come this far. My small donation was a way to show support for his consistent message about the corrupting influence of money in politics, a hope that an early groundswell of support for Sanders would buy his issues a seat at the table and shift the conversation in the primary leftward.
That’s not a knock on Clinton, BTW; I’ve never bought the notion that she’s a DLC Democrat at heart. I think her beliefs are similar to President Obama’s (in other words, a bog-standard center-left Democratic governing philosophy) and that they are consistent. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between the Clinton and Obama platforms in 2008, and there aren’t now either.
But I’ve noticed in past primaries that a candidate with a strong message can shift the conversation. Even that odious phony John Edwards put poverty more firmly on the agenda back in aught-eight with his “Two Americas” focus. Bernie’s message about creeping plutocracy couldn’t be more timely and urgent, and to his great credit, he has made it central to Democratic politics throughout this primary season.
Even so, just before the actual voting started, I was leaning a bit toward Hillary because I thought she was more electable, having withstood the wingnut shit storm for 25 years, formidably faced down the partisan witch hunt over Benghazi and forged strong, deep and long-standing ties with establishment figures and core constituencies of the party. But I still wasn’t sure.
I’ve followed the Berniacs vs Hillbots clashes at this blog and elsewhere, and I resolved not to allow the behavior of overly enthusiastic supporters color my opinions of the candidate, and that remains the case. But my coin-flip moment has been playing out as the voting takes place, and now I’m ready to admit it, to myself and to you all: I want Hillary to win. I’m going to vote for her tomorrow.
This realization started to dawn on me when she got edged out in Michigan. It’s not that I wanted Bernie to lose, but I was disappointed that Hillary didn’t win. I was disgusted with the media spin about it — not the valid analysis about trade, etc., and how that might have driven Rust Belt voters to the Sanders camp but the crap-fest about whether HRC was once again losing to a man who excites the youngs and whether the country wants to try something new instead of this tiresome, ambitious woman.
Well, after 229 years of the Oval Office being a men’s only club, a woman would be something new, even if we’ve known this particular woman forever. I’m not going to deny that’s a huge part of my support for HRC. I want a woman in the White House, damn it. And we’ve got an incredibly qualified one right in front of us.
It wasn’t that big of a deal to me in 2008 since I supported PBO over HRC. It seems more urgent now. In the 2008 primaries, my mom was a Hillary supporter, not just because Hillary is a woman but because my mom was a big fan of the Clintons, who were of her generation. Mom was no PUMA; after Obama won the primary, she voted for him in 2008 and again in 2012. She thought he was a great president.
But she never got to see a woman win the White House. And that sucks. I don’t apologize for believing that breaking this barrier is incredibly important. For myself. For my daughter. For all the women who came before us and will come after us. It’s not everything, but it’s not nothing either.
Anyhoo, as I said, I like Bernie too, and if he wins, I’ll work my ass off to make sure he prevails in November. My husband is going to cancel my Hillary vote by voting for Bernie tomorrow, and I will even remind him to do so. But it turns out I’m with her…and I have been all along.
PS: I realize the graphic up top is controversial because some people thought the quote implied that Sanders’ line about “shouting about gun control” was sexist. I don’t think Sanders is sexist at all. But I do like the sentiment in the quote, which is generally true.
Betty Cracker, Front Pager at Balloon Juice