#GirlIGuessI’mWithHer, or “now’s the time for pragmatism”

08 Jun

(title references this article, which I found somewhat relevant)

AP stories being premature or not, it’s reasonable after yesterday’s primaries to state that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee for President come next month’s Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia. All signals indicate Sanders will bow out gracefully (after grabbing whatever concessions to his not-insignificant constituency he can for the party platform to keep his movement going) in the next little while, and it’s all over but the dog and pony arena shows.

Looking to the left, you’ll see that this time around, I was a Sanders fan; not really a “BernieBro” (I’ve been through this rodeo more than a few times), but my positions tended to align more with Senator Sanders than with Secretary Clinton. Socially, I’m a liberal progressive, economically, I’m a Keynsian with a taste for classical European socialism. Sanders’ message of economic equality and democratic socialism appeals to me; I’m always going to be a bit to the left of the average candidate for state or federal office in this country, and the Sanders campaign hit a lot of my sweet spots in that regard.

I also have few issues with Clinton’s policy positions, since, for the most part, she and Sanders agree, even if Sanders wants to move farther and faster on them, and comparatively, Clinton’s a little more hawkish in terms of foreign policy than I’d like. By all rights, she’s been a pretty good public servant the last couple of decades, appears to have the ability to navigate the public sector ably and compromise where it matters, and I expect she’d be completely competent executive, both on her own merits, and the fact that she spent eight years as an active First Lady means that other than an incumbent running for re-election, she’s got the most real-world exposure to what the actual job of “President” actually looks like, and would probably require much less of a learning curve than just about anyone.

That said, although I’m going to vote for her, and she’ll be a perfectly acceptable (and historically significant) candidate and likely eventual President (probably not all that far off from Obama, especially if she continues to take the Sanders message to heart and incorporate it into hers), I’m having a hard time getting excited.

For me, it’s not a woman thing (we’re not going there, Madeline Albright); I’d love for our country to catch up with the rest of the world’s advanced democracies and elect someone without a Y chromosome), it’s a dynasty thing. For the last 28 years (nearly 3/4 of my life now), there’s only been eight years there where the White House wasn’t occupied by a Bush or a Clinton. I’m a little uncomfortable with that.

Also (and this might be a personal flaw on my part), I’m somewhat tepid toward Secretary Clinton personally. I get that it’s a historic event, and policy-wise, she’s just fine. I also understand that she’s not in the same league charismatically that her husband or the current President; and heck, for someone else, she might be. I do my best to put this aside, but I struggle with the stock “Boomer career woman/power grandma” persona she exemplifies, and amplifies when she’s on the stump. Again, I understand and recognize the introvert overcompensation; however, this outward image she’s presenting doesn’t elicit the greatest reaction from me; I’ve been burned a time or two. Like I said, it’s a personal problem for me, one that I’m doing my best to set aside. I don’t relate well to her; personally, I have a hell of a lot more in common with the slightly grumpy but cool grandpa figure.

I guess I kind of get the “candidate I’d rather have a beer with” appeal of W to certain folks. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to vote my head.

It’s time for pragmatism, and Clinton is a perfectly fine candidate to align with my political philosophies (I don’t think a Hillary Clinton presidencey will look dramatically different content-wise than an Obama presidency), and is certainly a better alternative to the Trump Tire Fire. Like I said a couple of times now, the primaries are the time to pick the option you love; the general is where you kind of, by design, have to pick the lesser of two evils. If that lesser evil is someone you can get truly excited about, that’s great, but experience tells us it’s not going to happen all that often.

The best reason I can give for why I’ll vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election is a pragmatic one; that’s what general elections are for. I found myself thinking about this while listening to Tuesday’s edition of NPR’s Fresh Air, which featured an interview with author Jeffrey Rosen talking about his new book about Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (which you should all listen to at the link above; fascinating stuff), and include this bit (quoting Rosen) regarding the importance of the Court when considering one’s vote in November:

It’s impossible to understate the relevance of the Supreme Court in this election. Citizens should vote for the presidential candidate who most coincides with their vision of the Constitution because even the confirmation of a single justice, even just Merrick Garland’s confirmation would transform the law in a series of areas from campaign finance to affirmative action to voting rights and more in a way that will affect the court for decades to come.

So people have been talking about the Court in the election for a longtime. This time, it’s happening. Vote for the candidate whose view of the Constitution coincides with your own.

That’s where we are; the Court is currently a Justice short, with the others basically lining up 4-4. Congress has said repeatedly that they’re not going to even consider the nomination of Merrick Garland until after the election. Whether the next appointee ends up being Garland or someone else (Congressional leadership will have its own pragmatic decision to make come the first Wednesday in November), that appointment is likely going to be instrumental in setting which way the court’s going to lean for the next couple of decades.

You know, that’s enough for me.


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