This election cycle has been nothing if not entertaining. But for me personally it has been fraught with struggles over my convictions and a test for me as to my own political beliefs. I have always been torn between my preferred policies and my desire to have a pragmatic leader. This was not helped in anyway by my education in administration which brings a deeper understanding to the political process and its very complicated and nuanced ways. My conversion from feeling to Bern to being Ready for Hillary was gradual and surprising to me in many ways.
My road this election cycle began when I read that Bernie Sanders was thinking about a challenge to Hillary Clinton and that he was speaking to real political aides and operatives. I felt a kindling of hope; that a strong progressive challenger from the left could challenge Clinton. As a watcher of MSNBC, a recent Nation subscriber and someone that had just finished Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, my political identity as a progressive, liberal and burgeoning democratic socialist was at its apex. I was fruit ripe for the picking and was incredibly excited by the potential run of the gruff and free-speaking Senator.
When Sanders announced i was excited. So excited I bought the T-shirt. Literally. I was energized and excited for his run. I thought he had a chance to put real issues on the table and to bring an energy to the the democratic side that was going to be rather dull compared to the gigantic list of contenders on the Republican side.
My excitement for Sanders continued through many of the states until one day, I simply became deeply ambivalent toward the Senator. There was one night in particular, after one of the primaries, where Clinton and Sanders spoke back to back. At the end of both speeches i confessed to myself: Sanders had lost me. Clinton’s speech was inspirational and uplifting and addressed issues beyond the economy. Sanders remained as vigorous as ever, but he was only speaking to me about economic issues and not issues unrelated to the economy. My personal dedication to equality transcended dollars and cents… why didn’t his?
My watershed moment was after Wisconsin and leading into New York. The rhetoric got nastier on both ends but it seemed as though Sanders took the argument to the next and worst level. Sanders surrogates said Clinton had made a Faustian pact, and Sanders questioned her qualification. The Qualifications part hit me really hard. Clinton is many things, but unqualified is not one of them. The jab reeked of soft sexism and recalled the clumsy way in which Sanders had accused Hillary Clinton of yelling about something; another faux pas for the Senator. But more than the nasty rhetoric, which was a turn off but no a deal breaker, was the fact that Sanders played the holier than thou card and insisted that Clinton was the real one making the race negative. From what i had seen, both had ratcheted up the negativity, but Sanders more than Clinton.
It was at this point that I truly began to swing back toward Clinton. I wanted a strong candidate to win and I didn’t think that Sanders was performing well under pressure. His back tracking on his issues oriented campaign seemed to undercut the message he had sent earlier when he took Clinton’s emails off the table as a political ad in the first debate.
The death blow to my support for Sanders came when he changed his mind about his strategy of winning without superdelegates. Sanders had trashed superdelegates as profoundly undemocratic and insisted he would win without them and force them to join his side. Now he was going to rely on superdelegate support and would, according to a key campaign official, pursue superdelegates as a way to usurp Clinton even if she was ahead in the popular vote and pledged delegate math. How could a man that decried the undemocratic nature of superdelegates now purport to use these delegates to subvert the democratic will of the people? This seemed an unconscionable switch in tactics and ideals that was far removed from the grass and plain-spoken Vermont Senator.
For awhile after this I lived in a limbo, not fully warming to Clinton, but firmly rejecting Sanders. As the delegate math has gotten further and further out of reach, my warmth toward Clinton has increased and my like of Sander has decreased. Sanders now seems more in a position to harm Clinton in the summer and fall than he is helping her unite the party or get the base excited about the election.
But recently, my desire for a Clinton candidacy has been kindled. She is an earnest and hard-working woman that has been vilified far more than is fair for someone in her shoes. She has had her husband’s indiscretions flung in her face nearly constantly and has been derided as corrupt and a liar with not much evidence to prove the point. Sure, Clinton is not the natural campaigner and candidate that her husband or President Obama are, but she more than makes up for that with her work-ethic and her expertise. Clinton has been drawn farther to the left and has taken positions that are strong on the economy, climate change and racial injustice and inequality. Hillary may not be my perfect candidate; she a bit more hawkish than I like, but she is a strong democrat and her heart is in the right place.
There is simply too much at stake for the party—and independents— to unite behind her. With Climate change on the cusp of creating a dystopian future for the next generations we cant entrust the presidency to a man that thinks climate change is a hoax from China. With the Supreme Court in the balance we cant let someone that doesn’t respect the First Amendment make a nomination. With the world at a critical point in terms of conflict, we cant entrust the Situation Room to an erratic businessman that changes his mind at the drop of a hat.
But we can entrust our climate, out safety and the Supreme Court to a woman that is compassionate, ambitious, intelligent and hard-working. Clinton can and will do a great job as President of the United States. If only Bernie Sanders would get out of the way.