Today was primary day in New York, and over lunch, I went and voted. Yes, as the title said, I voted for Hillary. That I voted in a primary is not unusual, I vote in all of them. There’s another one in September for state offices, and yes, I wish they’d change that. I regard voting as a duty, one that goes with my rights as a citizen. As I’ve said in a previous post, it’s not often I’m “excited” about any candidate. Mostly, I take a look through what their platforms are, review their records and qualifications, and pick the one I think will probably do a better job than the other one. Sometimes, it’s really “flip a coin,” in that both are good and you can’t lose either way. This year though, I couldn’t wait for the primary day to arrive so I could vote. Not because I was excited, but for a reason that hasn’t happened to me before.
If you’d asked me back at the very beginning of the year about who I’d prefer, I’d have had to admit I was neutral. I didn’t really have anything against any of the candidates, and if pushed, I would have said I had a slight lean towards Bernie Sanders. Yes, I have my ideals, and I think for single-payer, free college tuition, or increased regulations on Wall Street and the banks are great things. All things he was touting, and has for a while.
But the latter part of January is when I started getting into actually looking at the candidates, and what they’re proposing. What are they – and their supporters – doing, how realistic (or not) are their plans, and what are their chances? Which is when I started shifting out of “flip a coin” territory, to “leaning towards Hillary.” You see, while I’m used to politicians being a little on the “blue sky and sunshiny days” side when it comes to their platforms, Bernie’s was trending into “outright fantasy.” Which raised some qualms, and then I ran into … his supporters on the internet. The “#feeltheBern” crowd.
Some of them, I recognized from long experience. They were the ones I tagged “the Frustrati” years ago, and no, they haven’t changed a bit. But they were joined by many others whose “enthusiasm” had gone to “adulation” and their “advocacy” for him might be better described as “rabid attack dogs.” I got the gamut of responses, both sexist and racist. You couldn’t turn around without hearing a slam against President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the same attack lines the right wing has been using about Hillary for the past 24 years. As I said a while back, I often had to double check which website I was on, because it looked exactly like what I’d seen on right-wing sites. It was what led me to write the “Civics” posts, as well as others to point out some of the problems they were creating.
I tried being rather nice about it, and giving some warnings. Simple things, really. First, don’t attack the President, he’s the one whose supporters you’re going to need. Second, your candidate is running for the Democratic Party nomination, so stop attacking the party. You’re going to need it to win. Third, stop using the right-wing’s attack points. Not only are they old hat, they’re false. Tell me why Bernie’s programs are feasible, and how you’re going to get them done. Fourth, and finally, stop assuming your candidate is “as pure as the driven snow.” The truth is that Bernie has never been subjected to the in-depth, fine-toothed comb research that every serious candidate gets sooner or later, and don’t assume the Republicans won’t use that.
They not only didn’t stop, they got worse. It set speed records pushing me from “flip a coin” to “lean Hillary” to “All In.” I’m not the only one, I’ve seen the same statements made by many people on a number of sites. If it was designed to bring people to support Bernie, it was a miserable failure. Instead of supporting him, it pushed lots of people off the fence in the other direction. Yes, he is now getting that vetting.
Over the past month, it hasn’t gotten better. It’s now echoed by Bernie’s campaign, and Bernie himself. Instead of the “clean, civil” campaign he promised, it’s all out mudslinging. The closer one looks, the worse he appears. The vicious attacks on Hillary, the attacks on the Democratic Party, and the continued insulting of Democratic base groups are continuing. The guy I rather leaned toward? He’s not in the race, and I wonder if he ever was.
I am a Democrat. I belong to the Democratic Party, and I support Democratic candidates. I recognize it isn’t “perfect,” but it’s the political party which most closely fits what I want done. I’m a pragmatist, in that I realize that while I may have an ideal, it’s going to take a lot of work, and often a long circuitous route to get there, since “overnight” won’t happen. I know that compromises are necessary, sometimes in ways I won’t like. I live in the real world, where taxes, budgets, and the details matter. Hillary Clinton was my senator for 8 years, and she was a damn good one. For all those reasons, I would have ended up voting for her over Bernie. But that’s not the reason I couldn’t wait to cast my vote today. That was because of something else Bernie and his supporters have done.