My fling with the democratic socialist from Vermont lasted one month.
I veer left when it comes to politics, so the first thing that attracted me to Bernie Sanders was his platform. My biggest point of agreement: I think single-payer insurance is a much better solution than the heavily-compromised ACA, aka Obamacare. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a socialist, as I think capitalism can be useful for a lot of things, but I do think government should play a substantial role in how the country operates. Sanders also doesn’t shy away from criticizing trade deals like the TPP, although my own criticism is more about exploitation abroad than a fear of losing jobs in the US.
Hillary Clinton’s platform is far more nuanced, closer to center. It’s palatable to a broader constituency than Sanders’ literally socialist platform. It’s also a product of HRC’s political “evolution.” That’s my primary criticism of her as a candidate: she’s very much a political creature, like many others in Washington, and her politics change with the prevailing winds of popular support.
Case in point: HRC voted for the Iraq War. Sanders didn’t. If there was more resistance to Bush’s invasion plan, that quagmire could have been avoided.
There was one debate sometime last month (there have been so many I can’t keep track) where Bernie had me. Bernie’s message spoke to my Warren Wilson College days, when I felt that every corporation was a machine built on exploitation, that the only way to save the Earth was to tear the whole thing down.
Later, I remembered that I’m 50% older now than I was then.
Ironically, it is the very thing that kept me from supporting Bernie before that has kept me from speaking out much, especially on Facebook. I have many friends who, seemingly overnight, have turned into BernieBros. (I use that term in a gender-neutral way, although in many people’s experience it is primary men who are given that label.) My Facebook newsfeed is filled with Bernie quotes, pictures of Bernie marching with MLK and other civil rights leaders, Bernie looking like everyone’s favorite granduncle. I’m a fan of these posts. But inevitably, after every damn primary or caucus where HRC pulls ahead, there’s the spin.
“Bernie’s Going To Win Because Reasons!” “Sanders’ Loss Was Actually A Win For America!” “Sanders Is Gaining Momentum (Which Is Impossible To Quantify)!”
A lot of this is wishful thinking. Sanders is falling behind in the pledged delegate count against HRC, and way behind when it comes to supedelegates. Sure, Sanders surprised everyone in Michigan, but HRC walked away with more delegates that night from her wins in other states. BernieBros love to cling to symbolic victories, uninterested in the simple truth that delegates win nominations. Period.
And then there’s the underlying sexism. I never got the Bill/Hillary Clinton hate, and I suspect it’s because I was a child for most of it. But HRC gets it the most. See, I’ve heard criticism of Obama’s “attitude” or “self-superiority,” but if he were white these would be considered strong character traits. (No one accused Woodrow Wilson, who had a similar professorial demeanor, of being “uppity.”) Hillary’s “smug” and “condescending” because she’s a woman, as the same actions coming from a man would be tolerated. I think a lot of criticism against HRC’s ties to wall street, or that Republican witch-hunt named after a city in Libya that starts with B, is a front, a way of covering for what the BernieBros and other HRC-haters don’t like: that she’s a self-determined woman acting beyond what these people consider acceptable.
Consider: there’s been rumors that BernieBros would sooner vote for Trump than for HRC. Trump and Sanders have little in common except two things: they’re men running against Hillary.
Last week, when it came time for me to cast my ballot in FL, I voted for Hillary Clinton. I wanted to vote for my ideals, for a government that’s more willing to invest in the country. But I considered who was also voting for Bernie, and what company I wanted to keep. Many of my HRC-supporting friends are in STEM fields: scientists, engineers. Many of them are also lawyers. I wonder if Hillary’s actually the more logical choice, or if she just appeals to left-brain people more than right-brain. I split the difference — I’m a coder and a writer — which might be why I equivocated for so long on this issue. Maybe that’s why people fear HRC: she’s calculating, rational, even ruthless, while Bernie is a firebrand.
In the end, I voted with my head, not my heart.
To my friends who still support Bernie Sanders: I admire your zeal and your commitment to making the country better. But so help me God, I’m sick of you. You’re the reason why I couldn’t vote for him in the end. You can crow all you want if Bernie pulls an upset in June, but if you think Hillary’s the enemy, then you haven’t been paying attention.