I believe we all pretty much choose our candidates because of murky things lurking in our subconscious, and we come up with the talking points later. (See “The Emotional Dog and the Rational Tail.”) Sometimes the distance between the murky things and the talking points is short, and sometimes it is long and convoluted. But few of us form opinions based on reason first.
Looking at followers of the two Democratic candidates, I can see all kinds of murky things leading them around. Certainly some Sanders supporters just plain don’t like Hillary Clinton and see Sanders as the anti-Hillary. That’s not true of all of them, though. Some of us really do see Sanders as a means to push American politics leftward. (Of course, we’d had the same hope with Barack Obama. While there is much about the man I admire, and much that he accomplished, the overall results were less than satisfying.)
So what murky things are going on with the Clintonistas? They aren’t all alike, of course, but here’s my generalized analysis:
Let’s go back to 1992. With the exception of the one-term Jimmy Carter Administration, we’d had Republican presidents since 1969. (And while I genuinely admire Carter as a human being, he fell short in many ways as a President. His economic policies in particular were like a prelude to Reaganism.)
So it had been a frustrating 20 plus years for Democratic presidential politics. Electing a strong Democratic president seemed like an impossible dream. And then along came the Clintons. In the political climate of a rising conservative movement that was dominating all political discourse, the Clintons found a way to finesse the Right and seize the moment while playing on their turf. It was brilliantly done, even though they had to throw a lot of liberal values under the bus to do it (see: Sister Souljah).
And then we had the eight solid years of witch-hunts and an unhinged Right trying to take down the Clintons by any means necessary. They were particularly vicious toward Hillary Clinton. She was a strong, assertive, feminist, not-traditional woman, and that made lots of murky things in the Right-wing id sit up and start screaming.
I believe were it not for Big Bill’s relationship with Monica L., the Right would have come up completely empty; well, empty of anything indictable. Most of the allegations against the Clintons were nonsense. For those of us who identified as Democrats, it was like watching our champions being perpetually hounded by a pack of rabid hyenas.
Also in the later 1990s, the economy was pretty darn good (not as good as the 1960s, but for most people way better than the 1970s and 1980s). Those who were not doing so well (see Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994; welfare reform) were invisible to a lot of us, I regret to say.
The Clintons left the White House in 2001 and the “mostly pretty darn good 1990s were it not for Clinton derangement syndrome” gave way to the Dubya years. The Clinton Administration took on a golden haze of paradise lost in comparison.
Reflecting on that bit of recent history, I can fully appreciate why the Clintons command a loyal following among so many people who strongly identify as Democrats. And I also appreciate why loyalty to Hillary Clinton is especially strong among middle-age and older women. We older ladies can identify with her. We’ve all been held back and harassed by various types of rabid hyenas.
So what’s the problem? Why am I Not With Her? In no particular order:
It’s not the 1990s any more. Movement conservatism and the Reagan Revolution have run their course. The Right probably hasn’t been in this much chaos since the Franklin Roosevelt Administration. We don’t have to play on their turf any more, and it’s time we stopped. But I see no indication that Hillary Clinton intends to pivot away from the old triangulation game.
C’mon, folks, say it loud — we’re lefties and we’re proud. We have a rare opportunity to actually stake a claim that America is not a center Right nation. In four or eight years, the Right might very well be reorganized and on the upswing again.
If you really care about the future of the Democratic Party, please, don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. She’ll hold the party back.
Neoliberalism needs to go. Bill and Hillary Clinton are the quintessential American centrist neoliberals. American centrist neoliberaism isn’t as far Right as the European neoliberalism George Monbiot complains about. Call it soft neoliberalism. But it’s still neoliberalism, and it still feeds into income inequality.
There are a lot of different definitions of neoliberalism, but ultimately it’s about sacrificing the standard of living of working-class men and women for the sake of global corporate profits. For more on this, please read: “How Neoliberal is Hillary Clinton?” And see especially Naomi Klein, “The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview.”
Hillary Clinton is a hawk. I realize now I wasn’t paying enough attention to her while she was Secretary of State. I might quibble at calling her a “neocon” (others do not) but she’s definitely a hawk. More wars we don’t need. See Michael Crowley, “Hillary Clinton’s Unapologetically Hawkish Record Faces 2016 Test.”
On Israel especially, Clinton is stuck in the “no daylight between the U.S. and Netanyahu” mode, while Sanders offers a completely different perspective. See Roger Cohen, “Bernie’s Israel Heresy.”
She’s on the wrong side of climate change. Hillary Clinton may be hard on the Palestinians in Gaza, but she’s soft on fracking. Clinton wants to push incremental baby steps to save the planet, and it’s too late for that. Again, Sanders wants to push harder for renewable resources and energy.
On some issues, notably women’s reproductive rights, I trust Clinton. I also trust Sanders. I think they’re both on the same page there. Sanders’s big weakness is gun control, although he’s evolved in the right direction. But on many big issues (see above) I do not like Clinton’s record or positions. I am much more in sync with Sanders’s positions. So, I’m voting for Sanders. I realize he’s a long shot, but he’s got my support.