Before I get into all of my thoughts about this, I am keeping this as Hillary versus Bernie as I’m fairly certain Joe Biden is sitting this out for certain and unfortunately no one cares about Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee or Jim Webb.
As an aside, Jim Webb is from my home state and I remember when he defeated George Allen in the 2006 Senate election. That really was a big deal and I am extremely proud that Virginia is becoming a blue state now. It’s definitely not something to take for granted, Virginia remains a swing state, but I think it’s making progress in the right direction. After that Jim Webb just kind of disappeared but I suppose he’ll be resurrected for the first Democratic debate at least.
So as for Hillary and Bernie. I’ve admired Hillary for a long time, before I had any clue who Bernie Sanders is and I voted for her in the 2008 Democratic primary (disclaimer: I think Obama has been a great president and I was never anti-Obama). I think she is one of our most accomplished first ladies besides Eleanor Roosevelt (who maybe would have run for public office or president had those options been open for her at that time). Hillary is not perfect, she is a flawed, complex human being who has made mistakes. I think as a politician who happens to be a woman however, and a Clinton at that- plenty of Bill haters out there, she is relentlessly attacked over and over for her mistakes in the way either a male politician wouldn’t or maybe it is because of her high profile and connections with her husband. Probably a bit of both and of course Kevin McCarthy, likely new Speaker of the House, did openly admit that the Benghazi hearings are politically motivated.
I think the email problem she had is bad and I do think her campaign and she herself handled it poorly. I think she should have admitted responsibility much earlier and taken responsibility earlier for any potential security breaches. But there isn’t any evidence that she actually endangered national security, for all we know her servers were safer than US Govt ones which have been hacked in the past. And I wonder how absolutely no one else in the State Department or any other branch of the federal government noticed or said something if her actions truly were illegal (it seems as if they were not despite the investigation).
I can understand how her actions make her seem untrustworthy and like she’s hiding something, but while that was sketchy and I don’t understand why she did that, I don’t think it totally disqualifies her from consideration as what she did was not criminal and I do not think she had any nefarious intent.
I think her ties to big business also make her suspect. I admire Bernie Sanders for taking a stance against corporations and Wall Street and I admire him for sticking true to his principles and only accepting grassroots donations. I think he is among the purest of the candidates in terms of his stances and views on things. I am just concerned about him being just “one man” though. One man cannot change American politics, unfortunately our system is just not built like that. Perhaps our political system is irretrievably broken, but I honestly think one has to work from inside the system to dismantle it and he is just too far outside of the system to make a serious impact. It’s very telling that in his 25 years in the Senate he did not have a single bill made into law (correct me if I am wrong on that, but I have not been able to find one from reviewing his Senate record) and also no politicians have endorsed him, including politicians from his home state.
I am also concerned about his ability to reach beyond his base which is young, white, liberal students primarily. I think it’s amazing that he is reaching large crowds, but the crowds seem to be all the same demographic and his polling numbers among people who are of different backgrounds and age groups is pretty dismal. His poll numbers have certainly risen and perhaps if he does succeed in winning a primary he will attract the attention and get his message across to other groups of people. I just find it ironic though that he has not been able to win over other demographics even though it could be argued that he would fight the hardest for Americans who are hardest hit by economic disparities who are disproportionately black and Hispanic.
He and Hillary have pretty much the same platform for the most part though and I feel like Bernie has been pushing Hillary to the left (and maybe the party as a whole). I think his impact is definitely needed and his voice needs to be heard. I am just worried that he would alienate the most conservative Democrats or perhaps mobilize angry Republicans to come out in droves and vote against him. Or if he did somehow win the presidency I’m concerned that the Republicans would block every single thing he tried to pass similar to like what they tried to do with Obama except they would be even more rabid with someone like Bernie in office.
One point I want to make about their platforms being almost identical. Bernie has been consistent in his views for decades which for a politician is a remarkable achievement. And why I think he is the purest and most genuine candidate. But I don’t want to fault Hillary too much for either taking a long time to decide on her point of view or changing her mind. Yes, being against gay marriage is and was wrong, but we applaud it when someone we know in real life is persuaded to change their worldview to a more open minded and accepting one, so why be so upset when a politician does the same? I don’t think it necessarily is cynical pandering, for all we know she really did change her mind after listening and talking to people. Being on the right side NOW is what matters.
So, all in all, I am for BOTH of them, but ultimately I want what I think is best for the country and I really, really think that all the Republican candidates would try to turn back the clock and eliminate any progress America has made. I want whoever will defeat the Republican candidate and whoever will be most likely to successfully stand up to Congress and get real laws to help people passed. Despite the fact that Hillary has more connections to big business and Wall Street, I don’t think that makes her inherently evil or bad. I think it is possible to be wealthy and still have the best interests of the country in mind. And with over 20 years of fighting some nasty battles I do think Hillary has it in her to get through this campaign and a possible presidency. We’ll see what happens. It’s a long road to 2016 and any number of surprises could happen between now and then.