I Understand the Intense Loyalty to Hillary Clinton. Really, I Do. But I Can’t Share It.

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Democratic Party

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 loudwe’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.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. James F. Epperson  •  Apr 18, 2016 @4:12 pm

    Barbara (and friends):

    Y’all might have noticed my absence (maybe not) the past few weeks. As the unfortunate acrimony of this primary increased, I simply made the decision to stay away, rather than contribute to a raising of stress levels among folks I generally agree with. But I saw this headline on FB, and thought it might be worth making a simple statement regarding myself, as well as most folks (mostly family) I know who want HRC to be the nominee.

    It isn’t loyalty. She has no ropes binding me to her on any grounds like that. It is, frankly, the most common reason anyone supports any political figure: I think she will do a better job. It really is that simple.

    I didn’t come here to argue or even defend my position, simply to state it. It is what I said it was. You all can pick this to bits as much as you want, just don’t insult my wife or kick my dog, OK?

  2. grannyeagle  •  Apr 18, 2016 @4:30 pm

    I pretty much agree that Hillary is stuck in the past with her positions. Or maybe it is because she is a woman she feels she needs to be more cautious with them. In any case, if it comes down to Hillary vs. Trump, I’m going with Hillary. You never know, she might surprise us. All the rest of them do.

  3. freetofu  •  Apr 18, 2016 @5:10 pm

    I voted for Obama mainly because he seemed to be less hawkish than Hillary, and despite the fact that Hillary seemed to be slightly to his left on some economic issues. Although I’ve been somewhat disappointed with Obama regarding foreign policy, there can be no doubt that Hillary would have been much worse if she had been President, and will be if she becomes President. See Jeff Goldberg’s recent profile of Obama in the Atlantic to read how Hillary spent her whole time as Secretary of State pressuring Obama toward more aggressive military action.

    I can sympathize with the argument that Hillary might be more successful in the short term at making positive change in domestic policy in the face of Republican opposition, although I think that Bernie’s accomplishments and political skills are much better than his opponents claim. But military policy is the area where the President arguably the most direct power, and Hillary’s record and continuing statements on this topic genuinely frighten me.

  4. freetofu  •  Apr 18, 2016 @5:19 pm

    While I’m waiting for that to get past moderation, I’d just like to point out that there are known (if sometimes inaccurately described) demographic differences between Bernie’s supporters and Hillary’s supporters. So it’s valid to make generalizations to try to explain these differences. Pointing out that some individuals don’t conform to these generalizations doesn’t necessarily disprove them, any more than do examples of individuals who don’t vote according to their demographic profiles.

  5. Doug  •  Apr 18, 2016 @6:49 pm

    It’s mostly up to NY tomorrow. I’d like Bernie to do well and continue. If the voters decide otherwise, then before it gets ugly we all need to agree that none of the GOP candidates should get closer to the White House than the tour. Bernie isn’t important – his philosophy is important. That won’t go away in the next 4 years. Or 8. Young people and a few of us throwback hippies want real democracy. The demographics are on our side if we don’t set up a circular firing squad at the moment the GOP is in full self-destruct mode.

  6. maha  •  Apr 18, 2016 @9:01 pm

    Doug — based on polls I expect Sanders to lose tomorrow, but I hope he keeps it close. At least within single digits.

  7. Swami  •  Apr 18, 2016 @6:57 pm

    If you’re voting in the New York Primary you’d be doing Hillary a big favor by voting for Bernie. The logic is somewhat scriptural..like a refining process where Hillary gets purified by the heat of the contest and the political dross is purged and making her a more suitable candidate..a win- win for the Democratic party.

  8. GordonM  •  Apr 18, 2016 @8:52 pm

    I would add to Maha’s list the Honduras coup. It’s really the same as the United Fruit thing (leftie, democratically elected, but bad for bidness). Something that was never acceptable in the Democratic party until neoliberalism. (I’m a rare contributer, so I’m guessing this will be moderated).

  9. moonbat  •  Apr 18, 2016 @10:09 pm

    Agree with people upstream that it’s important to vote for Bernie even if he is going to lose. I feel like he’s the most leftist politician since George McGovern, and it’s ridiculous that we only have this choice once in a generation or two. I’m not going to blow it.

  10. MilitantlyAardvark  •  Apr 18, 2016 @10:57 pm

    Two things that always get to me about Clinton and her supporters:

    1) The claim that she can get things done as president that Bernie can’t. Seriously, does anyone with a room-temperature IQ think that a GOP know-nothing, do-nothing Congress is going to give Clinton the time of day for any of her supposed plans? Which leaves her with executive action – and all the evidence I’ve seen is that she is so timid and compromised that she’d be a lot less effective in that area than Bernie.

    2) The fact that Clinton’s judgment has been consistently poor in the areas where she has made major decisions or led major initiatives. She made a hash of health care reform, she made a hash of Libya and she and her cronies have now made a hash of the Democratic party primary.

    Of course, when you make these points to Clinton supporters you are accused of being unfair, being a stealth GOP operative etc etc etc. If those accusations don’t get it done, they resort to blackmail by claiming that you owe them a vote because.. supreme court and… supreme court and…

    My response is that I don’t owe anyone a vote. If you want that vote, earn it. Start by facing the facts and thinking about the future of the party, Clinton is a dead-end at best – now is the time to break out and start claiming new areas and demographics for the progressive cause, while the GOP is divided and dying off demographically.

  11. Swami  •  Apr 18, 2016 @11:49 pm

    Clinton certainly isn’t endearing herself to me when she makes comment like..”I just want to wrap this thing up” — meaning the New York primary…It makes me think that somehow the nominating process for her is just a trifling inconvenience that she’s being subjected to on her way to receive her entitled laurel of the Presidency. It’s Kinda like being involved in a passionate session of lovemaking when your partner asks if you are done. You kinda lose any bond of connectedness, and emotionally just go limp.

  12. Joel Dan Walls  •  Apr 19, 2016 @8:22 am

    “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.”

    I’m not so sure about the “murky things”, Maha. I think people’s political choices largely derive from whatever moral & ethical guidelines we follow, explicitly or implicitly. You spend a lot of time cultivating compassion, for example. Not everyone does that. I’m remembering a time when I was with a Republican relation as we encountered someone asking for spare change. I gave the woman a dollar. When I do this, I always hope the beggar spends the money on something wholesome. My relation immediately got on my case because “you know she’s just going to spend that dollar on booze.” I suppose I would say that my attitude is hopeful, while my relation’s was punitive. And all the arguing in the world is unlikely to change those basic attitudes.

  13. maha  •  Apr 19, 2016 @9:53 am

    //I think people’s political choices largely derive from whatever moral & ethical guidelines we follow, explicitly or implicitly. // Yes, that is commonly assumed. However, there is a huge amount of data and studying by social psychologists that says the moral and ethical guidelines are secondary. This is a subconscious thing; most people are not aware of it. The subtle cues coming from the subconscious shape how you understand and practice the moral and ethical guidelines. It feels like reason, but it isn’t.

  14. uncledad  •  Apr 19, 2016 @9:34 am

    Well unless things change significantly I’ll be voting for Hill come the Indiana primary. I’ve explained that I like Bernie’s policies more but I really don’t think Bernie would get through the general? Anyway one thing that Hillary should definitely do right now is tell Barney Frank to stop supporting her publicly, he made a fool of himself on Lawrence last night, sounded like a spoiled petulant whiny little child, what the hell happened to that guy? It gets bad toward the end!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjwkRbuchjU

  15. joanr16  •  Apr 19, 2016 @10:36 am

    tell Barney Frank to stop supporting her publicly, he made a fool of himself on Lawrence last night

    I think the early-Klingon facial hair that Barn’s sporting there, tells me he’s confused about quite a few things.

  16. Swami  •  Apr 19, 2016 @11:46 am

    Yeah, Barney should have gone with a landing strip.

    I see Hillary is out there calling up the ghosts of the suffragettes. I’m surprised she hasn’t moved her campaign headquarters to Seneca Falls.

  17. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 19, 2016 @4:29 pm

    My Mom and I had planned on going to the polls today to vote for Bernie.

    Unfortunately, l got a bad stomach bug on Sunday, and can’t leave the vicinity of the john.

    Sorry, Bernie!

    Oh, the best laid plans….

  18. erinyes  •  Apr 19, 2016 @7:19 pm

    I agree with your post 100 %, Barbara.

  19. uncledad  •  Apr 20, 2016 @12:16 am

    Unfortunately, l got a bad stomach bug on Sunday, and can’t leave the vicinity of the john.

    Sorry, Bernie!

    Yeah often a person, you can have to can count on, then bad stomach bug on Sunday! Then start again
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDiF3POJdyU

  20. bob  •  Apr 26, 2016 @5:31 pm

    You say “they had to throw a lot of liberal values under the bus to do it” but a lot of us think that there were plenty of unforced errors in Bill’s administrations (or perhaps they weren’t even bugs – they could have been features.) “Also in the later 1990s, the economy was pretty darn good” ignores the very likely proposition that Bill and the DLC would have thrown Social Security under the bus had it not been for his impeachment problems. http://www.counterpunch.org/2004/10/30/how-monica-lewinsky-saved-social-security/



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