Allow me to preface this article by saying that I am a progressive liberal — if the title didn’t already make that abundantly clear. If you do not align yourself with this political ideology, then you are bound to disagree with just about everything that I say here. My goal is not to convert conservatives into liberals. Rather, I aim to make a case for those voters who may be undecided, as I was until fairly recently.
We are in the midst of a presidential election characterized by “outsiders,” where the palpable popularity of candidates like Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and at one point, Ben Carson, has dominated the media airwaves and our political discourse. More importantly, we face what Hillary Clinton recently deemed a “watershed” election.
The age of Obama is coming to an end, and over the course of the past seven years, the United States has witnessed a number of policy shifts that liberals have dreamed of for years. Thus, with the upcoming election, we as a nation face a critical crossroads: Do we continue down the path we are on, do we halt or even revert back to an earlier time?
If your answer is the former, then Clinton is your candidate. If any of the Republican candidates currently leading the polls are sworn into the White House next January, we can likely expect to see much of the progress made by the Obama administration wiped out. Marco Rubio has promised to end marriage equality by appointing new Supreme Court justices to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges. Ted Cruz wants to gut the Affordable Care Act. Donald Trump wants to bar all Muslims from entering the country.
Now, Obama’s presidency was not perfect, but if you value what any of his accomplishments stand for and want to see more being done, then a Democrat must retain the presidency.
So, why vote for Clinton when it appears as though Sanders wants to further radically change the way Washington works? For starters, the election itself.
It is critical that we do not isolate the Democratic primary from the Republican one. If the GOP electorate fails to nominate Donald Trump, the Democratic nominee could very well face off against someone like Marco Rubio.
Sanders is so far to the left that staunch conservatives would flee from him like he’s the plague, and many moderates would likely drift toward Rubio — or whoever the Republican nominee is. Those fearing a “socialist” in the White House may also show up in waves to ensure Republicans retain control of Congress and state legislatures. If somehow the general election is a contest between Sanders and Trump, well, then I think we have much more to worry about. And if this is the case, I’m sure we can expect countless books trying to make sense of the 2016 election. Nonetheless, Clinton’s position as a center-left candidate could draw her the votes of more moderate voters.
Bernie Sanders is calling for a political revolution, and for him to be elected would be a revolution indeed. But this revolution would need to be widespread and sustained. Democrats would have to retake the House and Senate and continuously win the midterm elections to pass his reforms. Historically speaking, the prospects of this are not favorable. ƒ
Let me assert that the issues Bernie Sanders stands for are greatly important to me — for both personal and moral reasons. My thesis is on poverty and inequality and I have worked on related issues for the majority of the past year. So believe me, I care. I want to see fundamental changes in the realms of paid family leave, increasing the minimum wage and expanding access to college. Although I am energized by Sanders’ passion, the increasing political polarization of America personified in the popularity of Donald Trump makes me think twice about voting for him.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is a center-left candidate. Without a doubt, Sanders’ surge in the polls has driven her more and more to the left, but she remains far more centric than he does.
The appeal of a Clinton presidency, in my eyes, is the hope that maybe — just maybe — she can achieve some compromise. Having witnessed the complete legislative shut-out of Obama led largely by proud “guardian of gridlock” Mitch McConnell, I find it hard to believe that a Republican Congress would ever concede to many of the policies Sanders is proposing.
Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but seeing as Clinton and Sanders have very few differences in major domestic policy objectives, I think a Clinton presidency would be able to achieve at least some of these goals.
What Sanders and Clinton do have are different ways of approaching the same problems; sometimes I agree with Sanders’ approach, other times with Clinton’s. Not to mention, Clinton’s proposals are generally much more detailed and nuanced, showing a deep understanding of the complexities of reform. The main point is: they’re both advocating for mostly the same things.
On the foreign policy side, I find Clinton a bit too trigger-happy. Without a doubt though, by Rubio’s own admission, she has the most impressive resume. I err on the side of caution when it comes to regime change, but I do believe America needs to play a role in defeating ISIS and ending the Syrian Civil War.
For those of you concerned about Clinton’s “flip-floppy” tendencies, I find these accusations trivial. All politicians make political calculations. Even Bernie Sanders has had an erratic record on gun laws. The fact of the matter is that we elect politicians to advocate for our views. If our views can change, I find it unreasonable to claim that politicians cannot change their minds when we expect them to reflect the views of the polity.
Many of you will be unconvinced by this and others will have such deep-seated hatred for Clinton that nothing will change your mind. Fair enough. What matters most to me though, is that Clinton has been a strong advocate for the welfare of children and families for a long time. Moreover, I do not suspect that once in office, she will completely reverse her opinions and start repealing all of Obama’s actions.
I’m not sure how likely it would be for a Republican president to return the country to pre-Obama times, but if progressives like myself want to keep pushing forward, and eventually have a candidate like Bernie win the presidency, we need a Democrat. And I strongly believe Hillary Clinton is our best bet.