As the Iowa Caucuses approach, I feel the need to choose a candidate to support. It's just about phone bank time, time to get on the cell and start calling independents and folks who are undecided between Bernie and Hillary and convince them to vote one way or the other. I've done this phone banking for the last few Presidential elections and I think it made some small difference. It's convenient to do from my home and I got to speak to some really very thoughtful and opinionated people across the country.
So...Bernie or Hillary?
Before I attack that question, I just want to nod towards Martin O'Malley. He's a very compelling candidate and I appreciate much of what he says. I'm not sure why he's still in the race. I know he says it's because he believes in the dark horse candidate - likening himself to Obama. But even at this point in the 2008 primaries, Obama was more like where Sanders is, than where O'Malley is. My extremely cynical brain is telling me that Hillary is funding O'Malley's campaign to divide Bernie's supporters. Yes, I said I was cynical. But my idealistic brain says that O'Malley is an earnest player who just believes he's the better candidate. In any case, I'm not canvassing for O'Malley essentially because he has no chance of earning the nomination.
Another thing I have to say before I attack the Bernie v. Hillary question is that I do NOT agree with the two-party "system" we have. I think we should have four or five viable parties with a variety of viable candidates. I believe we need campaign finance reform and free and limited media coverage for all candidates who earn a certain percentage of the eligible voter support. I don't like our current electoral college system and the way the primaries are set up. However, this is the way things are and they're not going to change before Monday's Iowa caucuses, so I'm going to just play within the current rules.
Now. Bernie v. Hillary. As an ultra progressive, I feel that Bernie is the obvious choice. Hillary accepts money from super pacs, probably supports citizens united, only supports LGBTQ folks because it's convenient and political. Most of my friends and people in circles I run in are supporting Bernie. I see "Feel the Bern" stickers on the Volvos and Prius' on my street. Bernie's the financial revolutionary, Bernie's 2016's Obama. I'm supposed to want to vote and support Bernie.
But I don't.
Bernie Sanders comes off to me like an out of touch, white man with a fucking grudge (read tunnel visioned). I've done due diligence when it comes to homework - combed through his website, listened to speeches and debates, and I've deduced that Bernie would be AMAZING if the ONLY problems we had in our country were financial inequality and unequal access to resources (healthcare, college, working roads/bridges). He'd be a decent domestic president. Domestic president. His foreign policies and potential effectiveness internationally are lacking not only in his lack of experience, but because of his myopia on domestic affairs. Now, Obama had little foreign affairs experience, as well, in 2007-08, but he wasn't as single-issue oriented as Sanders is.
Why do I say he's out of touch? In the eight months he's been running for President, Bernie hasn't figured out not to curse in public ("damn," "hell," etc), or to couch his responses in more nuanced ways, or to temper his ever-present over-exasperated tone when speaking to reporters or during his speeches. Is he really going to conduct himself like this with Congress, with his Cabinet, with other Heads of State? And it's not just the way he comes off, it's the indignance of his delivery. This is just not going to fly in sensitive situations - either with Republicans or with Terrorists or with anyone in between. Now, many Bernie supporters probably embrace Bernie precisely because of these qualities. But, to me, I think these qualities completely disqualify him from being the nominee. Just as Trump's "anti-political correctness" renders him ineligible to be nominee, in my eyes. (And in the eyes of many of my fellow progressives.)
When dealing with terrorists, Bernie can't just say, 'Bah, enough with the damn terroristic threats, already!" This is not diplomacy.
Now, before you think that I'm supporting Hillary simply because I'm not supporting Bernie and Martin, let me explain. Unlike in 2008, when I absolutely did NOT support Hillary for President, Hillary of 2016 has earned her seat at the big desk, in my eyes. Her four years as Secretary of State make her an international presence-to-be-reckoned-with. She has negotiated with Putin, with Assad, with Masum, with Netanyahu, etc...etc... Yes, I concede that she's going to pull a bunch of bullshit policies that favor the big oil companies, make little headway with sustainable energy, maintain the Obama-status-quo if not worsen it a bit. However, she will not fuck up foreign policy and she will not get us into a war in Syria and she will not let women's rights go down the toilet, or, probably, LGBTQ rights. These are key issues, to me. And she will make some moderate movement towards reversing climate change. (Think Bernie won't get us into a war? See how Isis/North Korea/Iran feels about being talked down to by President Sanders.)
For these reasons, I am supporting Hillary Clinton as the democratic nominee for President of the US in 2016.
I know this will not be popular among many in the circles I run in. However, I have to do what makes sense to me and this is what makes sense to me.
Now to the phone banks.