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Many people on the left, including many registered Democrats, dislike Hillary Clinton. But won’t they ultimately surrender and vote for Hillary because they fear having a Republican President? Democratic party leaders have relied on such fear to win the last election despite putting forth a candidate who could be described as George W. Bush II, and it worked.
Democrats shouldn’t count on that cynical strategy this time around. Unlike in 2012, there’s a true liberal candidate in the primaries generating deep enthusiasm and support. If the Democrats crown the right-leaning Hillary, it will be a rejection of Democratic Party ideals, a slap in the face to liberals, a raised middle finger to Bernie’s supporters. It will also validate the fears of many that the Democratic Party is really just a kinder and gentler version of the Republicans.
Why won’t everyone on the left vote for Hillary in the general election? Think back to 2002-05, when many of us marched in the streets against the Iraq War, torture, the USA PATRIOT ACT, and the government spying on us. While we marched, Hillary voted for these things. (On the other hand, Obama at least had opposed the war from its inception, and as a candidate in 2008 promised to end it.)
Today, Hillary outright opposes single-payer heath care and free tuition for higher education, as proposed by Bernie Sanders.
But, many Hillary supporters say, “Even if Bernie gets elected, his ideas will be dead-on-arrival in Congress, because America isn’t ready for him!”
That’s wrong. The widespread, growing support and enthusiasm for Bernie shows that many Americans not only are ready for his ideas but that they’re ready, willing and able to work and donate money to make them happen. That a “socialist” could get so far in the electoral/media process shows how much things have changed — and why pundits such as Jonathan Chait and Sandy Goodman, who think Bernie can’t succeed or is “unelectable,” are out of touch.
And what if a President Sanders faced obstruction? Would he just give up? No. He would use the bully pulpit and educate Americans why these ideas are in our nation’s interest. He’d point a finger at those who would prefer we bankrupt ourselves trying to pay for life-saving medical treatment and college tuition and get them voted out.
Moreover, a President Clinton would face steadfast obstruction from Republicans, who virulently hate her, even more than they hate Obama. Odds are, Hillary would accommodate intransigent Republicans, until something they like got passed. She’d trumpet how she “won,” “got something passed,” and “crossed the aisle and worked with Republicans.” But where’s the win for Democrats in a President who saddles us with more right-wing policies?
Better to have a fighter than an appeaser. That way, liberal proposals with widespread benefits at least would have a chance of becoming policy rather than dying in utero.
Bernie is a “uniter” who stands for Democratic Party ideals. In the general election, all Democrats will vote for him, and many liberals and independents who would otherwise vote third party or stay home will vote for him, too.
On the other hand, Hillary is a “divider.” Many Democrats and liberals and independents dislike her. So if she gets the nomination, they’ll vote third party or stay home.
That’s it. The choice is between a candidate who can get the support of all Democrats and many independents versus a candidate who can get only a fraction of that support.
Beyond that, the choice is between promoting truly progressive policies that will benefit most Americans, or sticking with the status quo, which benefits the wealthy few. Choosing the former will expand the party. Choosing the latter will cause many Democrats to leave it in disgust, especially now that a viable progressive movement is taking shape.
Democrats should realize that they court disaster for their party if they nominate Hillary.