You can’t compare her to Bernie. Bernie is an anomaly. You can’t compare her to Trump. Trump is a waking nightmare of American culture. You can compare her to politicians of the post-WWII era. They were all men who campaigned hard and could cut each other within certain bounds of mutually accepted decency. And when the race was over and it was time to do the work of governing, they governed. They did politics. They worked to get things done by recognizing an issue which needed to be addressed, laying it all out on the table, and addressing it. If they were coming from a position of strength they did not seek always to get everything they wanted at all costs because they knew they had constituents who did not want everything the politician wanted. If they came from a position of weakness, they bargained for a piece of the action, prepared to use that as an advantage for the next election. Destruction was not the end being sought. They advocated strenuously for their positions and then gave in order to get so as to get things done. Live to fight another day. Why? Because we were all Americans, we had that in common no matter the differences in details on how we defined it. Total war against fellow citizens served no useful purpose. The idea of We The People had meaning measured in the population of the country, not just as some abstract calligraphy on an old parchment. Regardless of anything else, the people and the system put in place by the people to govern it was respected.
Hillary Clinton and her supporters respect that system. The republican candidate and his supporters do not. This election is no longer about which set of policies is worthy of favor, but whether the entire nature of the American system will continue as it is. With Hillary, it is fair to conclude from my assessment that she is then just more of the same. I agree with that. Considering our options, more of the same is preferable to blowing up everything, possibly literally. In Hillary we have a candidate who may very well be more aggressive internationally than someone of more progressive bent. She is presumed, rightly I think, to be a close friend of big money in business, finance, and government.
But she is also as socially liberal as any progressive candidate would be. In view of the likelihood that we will have 2 and potentially as many as 4 Supreme Court changes coming in the next 4 years, 2 of which may come from the right wing of the court, having Hillary making the nominations will assure for the next several decades that the liberal victories on social issues will remain in place. This is no small matter in view of the attacks on women’s rights, voting rights, racial issues, gay rights, and so much more that the right has engaged in relentlessly as long as any of these issues has existed in public discourse.
As a practical matter, Hillary’s policies represent about 80% of policies I support. Though she doesn’t take many as far as I would prefer, it’s much better than the backwards and deformed approach of her opponent.
I don’t buy in to the similarly decades long attack on every single aspect of her character and activities. They have been systematically whipped up by what she long ago defined “the right-wing hit machine” and have so seeped into the zeitgeist of US politics that it’s simply assumed that she is the most dishonest politician ever to hit the American scene. While she does have an aura of Nixonian non-transparency and slipperiness about her, nothing has ever stuck in any substantial way that suggests she’s any more than a standard issue high level political actor who will always, as is the nature of the game, toe right up to the edge of propriety without going over it. I may not like that kind of behavior, but again, in context of this election, I am willing to tolerate it. I do not believe that she is the consummate liar or criminal or murderer that she is accused of being. She is a centrist politician who is to the left socially and to the right in foreign affairs.
My conscience would like to have a viable candidate to choose. But one does not exist. Gary Johnson has proven himself to be almost as ignorant on important matters as Trump. He’s just a decent guy, and though that stands for a lot in this election, it doesn’t qualify him for the White House. He’s had many years to define clear positions on every issue yet he has not done so. Too many of his actual policies are the opposite of anything any progressive should get close to. Jill Stein as well, has no business being seriously considered. I agree with much of the Green Party platform, but the Green Party barely exists as an entity outside of California. Stein herself holds a handful of oddball leftist dog whistle positions and is just not a seasoned politician at a time when one is needed to counterbalanace the intensity of the right-wing loony bin. When the Greens make a sustained effort at building a bottom up party foundation that can show its viability at all levels of government, I’ll take its presidential candidates more seriously. For both the Libertarians and the Greens, simply showing up every four years to run for president and complain of unfairness in an electoral system which has stood for over 200 years is not serious. It’s adolescent entitlement. It’s a hobby.
The argument about having a clean conscience by voting third-party or not at all is the leftist counterpart to the right-wing individualist argument that all taxation is theft and that all government is an infringement that helps no one. The continued existence of this country, at least as it is and still hopeful for what it could be, is more important by a long way than the purity of my conscience and the consequences of a Trump presidency. My conscience will do fine supporting Hillary to avoid the horror of Trump. Being wrong about Hillary is considerably more tolerable to me as opposed to making a third-party vote and ending up with Trump when I could have tried to stop him with the simple act of a vote for her. I have no desire to stand on the ash heap of civilization with the serenity that I kept my conscience clean. The nation and the planet are more important to me than that.
I agree with Bernie Sanders that the best way for now to achieve progressive reform is to take the long view. He has, Moses-like, taken us to the mountaintop and shown us the way. It’s up to us to get there without him (although of course, he’s still here). The Democratic Party is nearly split between centrist, older, Hillary supporters, and liberal much younger, progressives. Every demographic analysis suggests that the trend towards younger and progressive will increase rather than slow. There are only so many shenanigans any party apparatus can engage in before sheer numbers overwhelm them. This is how party policy has shifted since the beginning of large American political parties in the mid-1800s. And with patience and continued activism, we may see this shift by 2020, and permanently by 2024.
I am resolved to fight another day. A movement does not succeed in one major election cycle. As progressives we are bound by our ideals to preserve our system rather than destroy it. We wish to improve what is wrong and maintain what is right. We seek to avoid actual violence wherever we can while standing strong for our principles, our process, and our goals. We can only do it by staying in the arena, learning everything we can about every aspect of party building and nation preserving. We cannot do it by allowing a creature as vile as Donald Trump and his unhinged supporters to rule over us.
Hillary Clinton isn’t the best choice among people who would make a good president. But she is also not nearly the worst and I do not believe she is as bad as she is made to be by her opponents. I DO believe that she is now the only choice to avoid the disaster that is embodied by Donald Trump and his supporters, and as an American pragmatic voter, despite my misgivings and concerns, I WILL be voting for Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.