>> Sunday, February 7, 2016
Photo courtesy of Hillary for Iowa
Before I get started on a political topic (which is always touchy), let me remind you of a few things: (a) this is my opinion and not a condemnation of anyone else's views, (b) favoring Hillary is not an attack on Bernie, (c) if you favor a GOP candidate, there's really nothing for you here, and (d) this a blog, not a democracy so if your comment isn't contributing to the discussion reasonably, I'll delete it without apologies. That includes bashing candidates in ways that accomplish nothing and bringing forth any conservative propaganda talking points. Be as naive as you want, but not on my blog. If you want to talk issues or my specific points, by all means, but I'm not going to take abuse, dish it out, or allow it to go on in my comments unchecked. This is not kindergarten. Grow up.
Before I get started, let me explain who I am and where I'm coming from. I am 48 years old. I have a background in science, rocket science, engineering and writing. Politics has been something I ignored far too long. I have long had liberal views on a number of issues, but I was never much of one for labels (I'm still not). When it came to voting (at a much later age than it should have), I didn't pay very much attention. That changed after I ignorantly and thoughtlessly voted for George W. Bush. It hadn't even warmed here in Houston before I was aghast at what we had wrought. My vote wouldn't have changed anything here in Texas, but I hadn't done research, hadn't thought it through, hadn't cared enough to pay attention and vote appropriately. I was part of the problem. I would not be part of the problem again.
What that means is, when people who have been working these issues (on the left) for decades, marching and caucusing and speaking out and making calls for what they believe in, say I haven't been there like they have, they're not wrong. And I respect that. It also means that I'm far more careful to pay attention and do my homework before I form opinions about issues and about candidates. Also, the argument that one can learn from even the most heinous mistakes of the past resonates with me because I've been there. More than once.
So, what do I like about Bernie Sanders? Lots of stuff. He's fighting for many issues that matter to me and he always has. Not all of them, mind you, but several. He's something of a purist and somewhat passionate and I'm cool with that. I totally agree that money and politics is a bad mix and I appreciate that, at least with intent, that's what he tried to do and tried to keep the focus on issues. I believe he genuinely joined in to get his message out without the intent to torpedo his own pet issues or jeopardize having someone liberal in the White House (and there are many who feel differently, but it doesn't change my vote either way). He appears generally true to his beliefs in many ways, even if he isn't the saint that some would have us believe.
But there are things I don't like. Some of the issues that matter a great deal to me appear to be low priority to Bernie (and won't be fixed with his inequality plans). I know he thinks those measures to improve the world for the middle class will fix it all given he tends to describe the post WWII years as if it was a utopia as the middle class grew in power and influence, but women and minorities saw very little of those benefits; they were, in fact, left all but behind until they took action themselves in the sixties. He may have forgotten that rather egregious oversight; they have not. I don't like his slow response on guns or his lack of expertise on foreign affairs (a substantial portion of the President's responsibility). Foreign policy is something a clever President can really use to our advantage as President Obama has demonstrated.
I don't like demonizing any group of people, even the filthy rich. There are clearly greedy assholes out there who care nothing for regular people but that is not true of all of them and it's misleading to do so. When people get passionate on the basis of hate, it makes me uncomfortable. That's dangerous.
He has not been vetted and the very fact that he hasn't been raked across the coals at this point tells me two things: (1) we have no idea how he'll react to the kind of pressure and nastiness that both President Obama and, for far longer, Hillary Clinton have withstood (with poise, I might add) and (2) that the Republican slime machine either thinks he has no chance or is positive they can take him out without trouble else they'd have started in already. I hope we never find out, but, if we do, I hope their confidence is misplaced. I've noted, that, if I were a hard core Bernie supporter, I'd be very unnerved by the silence because the purer and more perfect he's seen to be (and some are already saying no one's attacked him because there's nothing to attack - which is desperately naive and almost certainly wrong), the harder he will fall if someone uses the right spin. Look how they swift-boated Kerry, using his own heroics to attack him. Substance is not necessary. After all, the GOP hasn't been a big one for substance for the past few decades, preferring inference, innuendo and boldfaced lying.
I am also disturbed by his tendency to act as though he's the only person who's been fighting for the issues he cares about, in government, in the legislature, anywhere. It's not like he's been alone in this, but you'd never know it to listen to him. And he's been pretty dismissive to the others fighting the same fight he has, including our current President and many Democrats that are his colleagues. Despite the executive nature of the Presidency, it really isn't a one person show and anyone who hasn't learned that from watching President Obama the past eight years really hasn't been paying attention. And, Bernie's agenda is almost exclusively legislative, which argues where he is (and has been) in a much better place to put it into action. If he could rally his fellow legislators. Instead, only two legislators have endorsed him, and that's a pretty telling marker to me on how well he will be able to able to push them to back his more extreme plans.
None of this makes him a monster. But these are legitimate concerns about anyone who strives to be President.
I will admit also that, people of the liberal variety who are dismissive of what President Obama has done, distance themselves from him, and, most tellingly, show no sign of having learned anything from his presidency are unlikely to convince me their ideas will succeed where his efforts did not.
Which brings us to Hillary Clinton, a woman I was aware of but only peripherally prior to 2008. Most of what I'd heard, I'd heard through the media so, as you might expect, it was almost entirely mud. And, in 2008, I still wasn't digging in deep. I liked Obama almost from the start and never really looked past that (and I can't say I'm sorry I voted for him, though, again, it made no difference here in Texas). But, it was also the first contest where I saw the GOP slime machine in full swing first at Hillary and then at President Obama, not only during the election but afterwards, for what started as months and turned into years, never letting up. The insinuations and sneering were everywhere, but without anyone hating on him being able to come up with concrete reasons, just flimsy allegations of wrongdoing that I could debunk with a few minutes of research. I came to really respect President Obama, not just because of his tremendous accomplishments against non-stop ugliness and obstructionism, but because of how he never seemed to lose his love for this country or lose sight of what mattered most to him, how he remained true to himself, though I'm sure there are decisions he wished he hadn't had to make.
So, when Hillary came in again, I realized that I didn't know much about her except the mud I'd seen, but, here she was, still strong. President Obama had trusted her in his cabinet and she had gone to help him, even after a tough and undoubtedly disheartening primary. Both those facts mattered to me. So, I started slogging through the mud, finding out what, if anything had substance and I found out very little except a few votes she either regretted or I wouldn't have chosen (Obama and Bernie have them, too) and some choices her husband made that she gets dinged for. But I could understand how those decisions were made at the time. I tell my kids all the time, "You can't always get what you want." I don't know why anyone thinks it's different in the White House, especially after watching our President have to compromise again and again to get things done (with his own side, too, I might add. Dems aren't sheep or soldiers walking in lockstep).
I watched her poise and good temper when the Republicans (who never really retired her slime machine), cranked it to full speed. It's not because I think she "deserves" the White House for all she's been through (I think the Presidency is a hell job, myself), but it says something about her that she can withstand it without losing herself or her principles. Many people (like Obama) we never saw tested. I read about her accomplishments, not just from her supporters, but by unbiased sources like votesmart and others. And I recognized many of the mannerisms required to succeed by strong women in her just as I've cultivated them in myself and other women of accomplishment in my field (where I don't think women take near the pounding they take in politics). I've seen her take pride in President Obama's accomplishments, some done with her, and promise to build on them, a plan I admire. I've read about her crusades from before they were popular, when they only hurt her politically, that she never flinched from, and those that scarred her, but didn't stop her. Looking objectively at her past, I've seen her grow, change tactics, learn from her friends and her enemies, learn from President Obama (and probably taught him a bit). Fight smarter. I'm all about that, let me tell you.
I find it telling that, while many are cool and grudging on her public persona, the people who most admire her are the people who really know her. It's not always that way (as I discovered when reading about Bernie) and I think that says a great deal on who you really are.
She's not perfect. She's supported things, particularly in the past, I wish she hadn't. Made mistakes, changed her views on things, cozied up to banks and big business, made a show at least of being hawkish, and I'm pretty pacifist. But very few of those things are black and white. Being able to work with big business is far from a bad thing; it's being owned that's bad and that I haven't seen that. Some people are certain that she is, but I'm not convinced. And I won't be without hard data and I mean more than one or two data points, because there's a pretty impressive voting record that backs her and says she is more than all talk. As for those data points, I know damn well I've made mistakes and learned from them. I'm not about to tell anyone else they can't. And it's pretty frickin' clear to me she's never stopped learning. I respect the hell out of that, too.
She gets that she's going to need legislative Dems on her side (and have locked up a large number of their endorsements as well as many governors'). She's also shared some of her campaign funding to help in other Dem races and that's damn crucial for whoever ends up in the White House. On the foreign policy side, we have no one anywhere running for President with a fraction of her expertise (not just experience, expertise). And it does matter that she's a woman, not just because women are under-represented (badly) in government but because women of accomplishment have an inkling of what it takes for women to get and keep power in a cutthroat world.
And I've seen that stigma that still haunts women, in people insisting she must be dishonest or unlikable based on her "tone." On Bernie getting tons of credit for not going negative and sticking with issues while she gets none at all for doing exactly the same thing and continuing to do so even when some of his troops and even he got a bit personal. Now that I'm looking for it, it's not hard to spot.
I will vote for either one that gets the nomination. I truly believe that either will try to do the right thing from that position whereas I'm confident that no one on the GOP side will do anything but amp up the rape and pillaging of our country and any other country that strikes them. The mind boggles as the potential harm.
But I'm voting for Hillary in the primary. For reasons I noted, but really because, in some ways I identify with both Bernie and Hillary, but not the same way. I identify with Hillary as a human being who cares, who has made mistakes and has learned from them, who is held to a different standard but still excels in her chosen field. Bernie, I identify with as a purist because I'm rather one myself. I am someone who, in the human space industry, distinguished herself as a safety engineer. And safety engineers are purists, focused ideally on safety and willing to stop everything else if it's just not safe enough. We have the luxury of not having to juggle schedule and cost and performance, and goals and crew time and limitations, etc. We get to focus on just safety and the program needs us to do that because safety can get lost when you're juggling so many things.
You don't put us in charge because the safest place for a rocket is on the ground. And if you want to accomplish something, if you want to actually conquer space, you have to take some chances. You've got to juggle priorities and necessities, you gotta get your hands dirty and make tough choices, accept some risks, let some things go. You've got to hold tight to your goals, try to always work to the good while never letting all those important balls you're juggling drop.
The Presidency is not a purist's job.
So, with no regrets and no hesitation, I'll be voting for Hillary.