Hillary or Bernie? Bernie or Hillary? But Not a Republican!
In just over 3 weeks (May 3, 2016), Hoosiers will get to vote for their choice to be the Democratic and Republican Party presidential nominees. As things presently stand, Indiana’s votes will once again matter, a statement that we can’t often make with regard to our primary. I will need to decide between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or John Kasich. I’m sure readers of this blog will have no problem guessing which three candidates can easily be crossed off my list (no fair looking at the title of this post!).
At present, I’m leaning strongly toward Hillary Clinton, but my mind is not completely made up and I’m persuadable if confronted by honest, well-reasoned, policy-based arguments. In some respects, my current mindset is a bit reminiscent of the period leading up to the 2008 primary that I wrote about in my post Clinton or Obama? Obama or Clinton? I Might Get to Choose After All (March 5, 2008), though I’m leaning much more strongly toward Clinton now than I was toward either she or Obama back then. You might also be interested in my post My First Chance to See a Presidential Candidate (update) (April 23, 2008).
In either event, I will not be voting for Trump, Cruz, or Kasich. No way. Neither the fascist, the Christian Dominionist, nor the far-right politician wearing moderate sheep’s clothing holds any appeal for me.
And that brings me to the point I want to make.
If I vote for Clinton in the primary and Sanders is the winner, I’ll likely experience a bit of disappointment (and the same should I vote for Sanders only to see Clinton win). But here is what matters: No matter which of those candidates I may choose in the Indiana primary in May, when it comes to November, I will vote for the Democratic candidate for President. You see, I recognize that I’m unlikely to have a chance to vote for a candidate with whom I agree on each and every single issue. And I’m equally unlikely to have a chance to vote for a candidate with no baggage or issues that cause me concern. Neither candidate is perfect and neither agrees with me on each and every important issue. But no matter whether the candidate is Clinton or Sanders, that person will be far, far better on the vast majority of issues that matter to me than will any of the possible Republicans. Perhaps I should revise that previous sentence by adding the word “far” several more times (in bold and underline, too, perhaps). And with an exclamation point.
So when I hear some people (in particular, supporters of Bernie Sanders) saying that if their candidate is not the eventual nominee that they won’t vote (or, worse, might vote for Trump), I shake my hade in dismay. No, actually, that’s not entirely right. It might be closer to say that I shake my fist in anger. I have to wonder whether people who express a “my guy or I stay home” mentality understand how elections really work. I have to wonder whether they remember Ralph Nader in 2000 or Ross Perot in 1992.
Most importantly, I have to wonder if they have given any real thought to how issues that concern them would be addressed by a Republican president. Clinton won’t be tough enough on banks for you? OK. But do you think that Trump, Cruz, or Kasich will be better? Clinton won’t be good enough on environmental issues? Do you really think that Trump, Cruz, or Kasich will be better? Do you think that Clinton is really more likely to put American troops into combat situations than Trump, Cruz, or Kasich? Really? And I haven’t even gotten to issues like healthcare, abortion, gay rights, racial equality, minimum wage, net neutrality, campaign finance reform, or … well, virtually every other issue that liberals and progressives care about.
Maybe think about it this way: If Trump, Cruz, or Kasich are elected, what are the prospects that the judges they appoint to the Supreme Court (or other federal courts) will uphold reproductive rights, overturn Citizens United, keep Obamacare in place, and issue opinions that you will approve of? Or, perhaps, think about it this way: In 2000, had a slew of Florida voters not voted for Ralph Nader, then it is highly likely that Al Gore would have been elected President. So ask yourself: Would you have preferred an Al Gore presidency to that of George W. Bush? If so, that should be your history lesson to help you understand that refusing to vote or voting for a protest candidate (or a candidate to “blow up the system”) may be tantamount to helping elect a candidate who will do precisely those things that you are opposed to. Imagine how you’ll feel if Donald Trump is elected by a tiny number of votes … and you stayed home.
Thus, whether you support Hillary or Bernie, Bernie or Hillary, I implore you to do a few things:
- Be sure that you base your support (or opposition) on actual policies and ideas (and not just on attack ads or sound bites);
- Discuss the reasons for your support or opposition with those holding different views, but do so in a civil manner and on the basis of well-reasoned policy ideas and not on the basis of personal attacks;
- Whomever wins, get behind that candidate and the party that will better represent the overall set of policies and ideals that are important to you;
- Get involved (work the phones, go door-to-door, raise money, host a party, work the polls); and
Update (April 12, 2016): Fixed typos. Sigh.