Thursday, February 11, 2016

Feeling the Bern

Holding my breath for the outcome from Nevada next week, where little is known about what to expect from this secretive caucus state. I don't have the energy to flesh this out properly, but I wish someone would write the definitive piece (that will fall on deaf ears) about how each generation has their candidate who they believe is "The One." The One who will change everything that is wrong in politics. The One who inspires them to finally pay attention. The One they will go to the mat for. But as we learned with Barack "Hope" Obama, no one -- no matter how smart and no matter how charismatic -- can do that. And by backing a candidate based on their appeal instead of their pragmatism, we only end up LOSING elections (McGovern) or WASTING time. We need someone who already knows this, and is ready to hit the ground running. We don't need someone who gets elected on a pipe dream, then squanders years slowly realizing it's getting crushed. As I watch this cycle of hero worship unfold once again, I have to ask: Are Sanders supporters really so young (or stupid) that they don't know that Hillary is the one who TRIED TO GET SINGLE-PAYER UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE back in 1993, only to have ANY health-care reform become a nonstarter for another 15 years as a result, as punishment for even broaching the subject? Are Sanders supporters really unable to recall what happened with what little reform we did get, and how Republicans voted more than 40 times to repeal it and sent it to the Supreme Court twice? President Obama is certainly the greatest president of my lifetime. But my biggest regret (and I hope his) is that he wasted two years -- when we had control of the House AND the Senate! -- trying to make (a) change he could believe in, but that many of us already knew he never could. I hate to burst your bubble, kids, there's not going to be a "revolution" if your candidate wins. (In fact, voter turnout at the Democratic primaries is actually down, so for all the excitement Sanders is generating it pales in comparison to Obama in '08.) This is the system we have. The only way to "win" is to do the best you can within it and working around it. And because of this, Hillary Clinton is The One.

UPDATE: Watching the Milwaukee debate -- and seeing Bernie try to flag down a waitress all night (as Samantha Bee so perfectly described it) -- really drove home a point I had left out in this post that I'm going to include now. What it comes down to be me is this: Who has the experience and the stature to be a world leader and who is four years away from the average age an American man dies? I don't think it's ageist to say that Bernie would be the oldest newly elected president in U.S. history by A LOT and frankly I don't like the idea of voting for someone who may very well not be able to serve two terms. (And the fact that he doesn't know how to pronounce Iraq also gives me pause!) I'll vote for Sanders if he's the nominee. But Bernie supporters who read this, please tell me you'll do the same if it's Clinton. So many of his fans are telling me they'll just abstain, which would be catastrophic at best.


Brent said...

You GO Kenneth! I couldn't agree with you more. My husband had to listen to me rant about basically the same thing last night.

Dennis said...

Couldn't agree with you more regarding your views on the current political state of affairs; article you wrote today!!. Hillary is the one to achieve real progress; Bernie will just set us back another 4 years and he will achieve absolutely nothing. Hillary needs to start talking about the fact that he is a true Socialist and we are not a Socialist country; we are built on Capitalism, even the Democrats agree with the Republicans on that. We don't want free college education to all when half of America can pay for it; we just need to pay for those who can't pay on their own, and they need to help work a bit to earn the free college. Bernie makes outlandish promises that can never be kept! I hope she begins to make it clear the difference between Socialism and the Democratic view of Capitalism!! I think it would make people think twice; we don't want a Socialistic approach to government and Bernie does; in fact, he wants a Revolution to get there!! Write an article on it maybe?

Paul Samson said...

Fantastically written. This should go viral, but I'd be afraid of the bernbots going after you.

Alex said...

Because I'm seeing so many posts like this. I think Hillary might actually get it and win. As long as the Berners aren't so pissed off, they sit at home on election day. Then we get Trump as President.

Unknown said...

I watched the film "The Experimenter" the other evening on Netflix. I highly recommend it. It's about Stanley Milgram and his experiment in the 1950s regarding authoritarian rule or, more precisely, following orders. (He also came up with the theory of six degrees of separation.) Eventually, he wrote about how people unconsciously enter into the system that's been set up and do not waver from it. It becomes their frame of reference. In fact, they participate in it's perpetuation, the I-was-just-following-orders mentality.

The Hillary argument is "Look at how terrible the system is to get anything done so we have to stick with that system if we want to get anything done" is an example of what Milgram was describing, not to mention a bit insane. Why stick with a system that is unworkable? What can you hope to achieve? Very little, I would predict. And that's was Hillary is arguing: we can accomplish very little so elect me and I'll prove it. I'd rather elect someone who knows he has a fight on his hands but is willing to fight it...with our help.

The system as it currently exists just doesn't work but for the few who have rigged it in their favor. So, I would rather elect a president who wants to make the system work for everyone, not just the elite. Hillary, I'm afraid, wants to stay with the system as it is even when she knows she will accomplish very little despite her promises. Bernie knows what it will take (he has been in Congress for over 25 years) and always qualifies his goals by saying it will take all of us working together to change the system. And, in fact, that is how change happens. It never comes from the government but from the governed. However, most of the time the governed merely go along with whatever the system is which brings us back to Milgram.

And for what it's worth I clearly remember Hillary's first attempt at healthcare. I also remember how complicated her plan was as it was devised behind closed doors. However, Obama accomplished what she couldn't and we still need to get rid of the private, for very large profit health "insurance" companies. And as for McGovern, he was a one issue candidate--ending the Vietnam War. But when Nixon undercut that by making a secret deal with the North Vietnamese, McGovern was toast. Bernie is not McGovern; his policy proposals are much broader than McGovern's. Apples and oranges, Kenneth.

What saddens me most is how little optimism you have. You are willing to accept that almost nothing can be accomplished. In other words, the Republican campaign to reduce our faith in government has won no matter who becomes president. Now that's scary.

das buut said...

I find your lack of hope disturbing.

Dream big. Don't settle for 'magical' beans when you still have ahold of the cow.

Tim P said...

I don't know if you noticed, but Bernie won just about every demographic in NH other than 60+. Maybe it's time to stop talking down to Bernie supporters as though we're naive children and time to enter into a normal discourse with us so we can have the best democratic candidate possible come November.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Tim P: No one saying he's not the most popular with many segments of the electorate. I'm talking about what happens next. Did you even read what I wrote? I said the same thing about Obama in '08 and stand by that.

Tim P said...

I read exactly what you wrote, you asked if Bernie sanders were either so young or so stupid as to not remember when Hillary tried to pass single payer health care in 1993. Putting aside your mischaracterization of the health plan the Clintons tried to pass for a moment, you asked if Bernie supporters were so young or so stupid. This is incredibly condescending and not the type of thing you should say if you want to enter into a real dialogue.

Now back the actual health plan the Clintons tried to pass, it was not single payer, it was universal, but not single payer. The plan was over 1000 pages long and required employers to provide coverage for employees. Single payer this wasn't.

I understand Hilary is the safe option and there is a lot on the line but I don't have faith in her. She's taken entirely too much special interest money and I don't trust her.

Will Bernie get everything he wants? Absolutely not. But won't a republican congress dig their heels in with HIlllary too? Republicans HATE the Clintons, they're not interested in giving Hillary what she asks for any more than they are with Bernie or any more than they were with President Obama. So, if ultimately we have to compromise to work with this congress, I'd rather sit down at the negotiating table starting from the far left before we have to move to the center than starting at the center and going further right.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Tim P: Your point is well taken, but you have to remember that nobody reads a blog that is overly polite and unopinionated -- so apparently my tone caught your attention. (Ha!)

Whether it was single-payer or universal (thank you for the correction) was irrelevant: Congress is beholden to the health-care lobby and health-insurance companies are never going away for an actual single-payer plan, so we don't need to open that can of worms again. By electing Bernie, that can WILL get opened again -- God help us all -- and we will end up wasting even more time when there are actual issues that need to be addressed. Can we as a nation afford this?

As for your "faith" issue, show me one iota of proof that Hillary cannot be trusted because of her "special interest" money. I don't hear this being brought up about other people, yet with Hillary it's every other minute. I have to be honest that all of these vague "trust" attacks on Clinton are starting to remind me of my mom not liking Obama for some "strange" reason.

Your "to the left" point is a great one -- and I'm so happy Bernie was there to drag Hillary over -- but for me it comes down to this: Who has the experience and the stature to be a world leader and who is four years away from the average age an American man dies? I don't think it's ageist to say that Bernie would be the oldest newly elected president in U.S. history by A LOT and frankly I don't like the idea of voting for someone who may very well not be able to serve two terms. (And the fact that he doesn't know how to pronounce Iraq also gives me pause!)

I'll vote for Sanders if he's the nominee. Please tell me you'll do the same if it's Clinton. So many Sanders supporters are telling me they'll just abstain, which would be catastrophic at best.

@Barry Simon: You sound like if he had a son you'd be more supportive of his pursuing his dream of winning the lottery than having him get a college degree and building a career!

Hillarycare said...

I've never understood what the page-count of legislation has to do with the price of tea in China.

Sandy said...

Do we really need another SWM in the WH?

Tim P said...

@kenneth - I will most CERTAINLY vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination. There's no doubt that we're better off with her in the White House than any single republican running (or any republican that stopped running).

I bring up Hillary's indebtedness to special interest because I think that is the iota of proof. Quite a bit MORE than an iota. She's given something like 39 speeches to big banks (that's from CNN - may not be completely accurate - such is the nature of CNN) and taken in millions from them. She owes them. She does not owe us. Your argument, that this money doesn't lead to corruption, is actually the conservative argument in favor of Citizens United/McCutcheon (and Buckley if you want to go back to the root of the problem) and the dismantling of our campaign finance rules. I fundamentally disagree with the idea that corruption only comes from quid pro quo corruption. I think as soon as you have large amounts of money injected into a system, a political party, or a bank account, you're going to find cronyism and corruption. It's just the nature of the beast. Wall Street/The Banks have given her a truck load of money directly. Not to her campaign, but directly to her. I have just as big a problem with that as I do with them giving money to her campaign.

As far as bringing up Hillary's trust issues and only for Hillary - I don't have the trust issues with Bernie and I don't bring them up with all the Republicans because I will never vote for a single one of them. I don't trust a single one of them for similar reasons. But more importantly, I don't believe in a single thing they say or stand for (if they actually even stand for the things they say) so I don't spend a lot of time discussing their trustworthiness.

@Hillarycare - I brought up the page count of the Hillarycare bill to show that it was a complicated system that was far from a single payer system. I don't consider page length or complexity a detriment out of hand (and I did not indicate that was the case in my former post) but the page length can provide context - just like it did in our conversation.

Dave in Texas said...

You nailed it Kenneth. Perfectly presented!

Eye Roll said...

And everyone gets a free pony!


Unknown said...

Kenneth--trust. I think I posted this yesterday but I'll do it again today. Elizabeth Warren tells the story of when Hillary was first lady. She explained to Hillary why a particular bill involving the banking industry and credit was bad for consumers. Hillary said, "I get it." Then she went to Bill and lobbied him to veto it which he did. Shows she's for consumers, right?

When Hillary became a senator the same bill came up in Congress for a vote. She voted for it. Could it be all that Wall Street money that helped her get elected changed her mind? Or maybe she had a change of conscience and realized the bill was really good? Just like she realized voting for the Iraq War was bad years after she voted for it but now wants to brush it aside as she did in tonight's debate, even though it cost blood and treasure and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. She could have repeated it was a mistake. But, no. She complained that Bernie is living in the past. "That was then; this is now." Unfortunately, the past history of candidates is what we have to use to decide who would be the better president.

I think Hillary would be okay. But I think Bernie could be transformational. Or not. But at least I'm ready to try.

Jeep Cherokee said...

Elizabeth Warren also said she's Native American, but that doesn't mean it's true!

Unknown said...

Jeep --

And therefore we should discount anything Warren says about anything? Under that rule, we shouldn't believe anything someone tells us because we all lie sometime. No one is completely trustworthy. Therefore, any story someone tells us should be taken with a grain of salt. An interesting way to live, I guess. Very stressful, however, because how do we know who to trust? Trust is the balance between the hope that someone will have our best interests at heart and the fear they won't. Over time we see their actions and evaluate if our trust has been well placed. If that's the case, then I will take Elizabeth Warren over the Clintons any day.

I prefer to believe Warren's story because it fits the Clinton strategy which, quite simply, is to do what is in their best interest while putting ours aside. So Bill says he supports LGBT rights but signs DOMA. It takes away the gay marriage issue from the Republicans and helps his re-election even if it means our community has a 15+ years costly fight to get rid of it. (And then he claims years later that he was sorry he signed it!) And Hillary sides with consumers when she's first lady but supports banks when she's a senator because it helps her contributors and keeps the money rolling in, consumers be damned. And then there's her Iraq vote, a time that called for courage and deep convictions which some in Congress demonstrated, including Bernie. Instead, she chose to believe the fictions being presented by the Bush administration which cost us dearly.

So I don't care if Warren lied about her heritage. What I care about is what Hillary has said and done in the past. And her past actions raise questions about her keeping the country's best interests at heart. At the end of the day, I fear she will again do what's in her best interest, what makes her look good no matter the cost to the rest of us. It's the Clinton tradition.

Lisa Kolker said...

Well said. I coundn't agree more.

Unknown said...


One can argue the point you make about the bankruptcy bill vote. It's what the right wants as you may not have the rest of the story.

Now, of course one can still believe what one wants even after reading this and interpret and /or twist it into their own narrative both for or against Hillary. I'm not posting and taking a.side. just pointing out that we interpret things according to our environment.

Damian said...

You know, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Acknowledge and work with the system as it is while laying the groundwork for the long haul. Nobody is saying the status quo is great; there's a difference between copping out and realizing the realities on the ground. And I say that as someone who is a long-time admirer of Sanders' advocacy (as opposed to some who seem to have only become aware of him as an anti-Hillary). I don't think he has what it takes to be executive, and, like Warren, he is most effective in the Senate to fuel progress. With that said. I do think the competitive primary race such as it has become is a pleasant surprise and a showcase for Democratic (and democratic) ideals.