January 4, 2016

Can You Vote for Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton April 2015I like Sen. Bernie Sanders. Of the candidates currently running for president, his positions on the issues most closely fit my own. I have taken a couple of the online political quizzes that aim to match voters with candidates based on how they answer a variety of policy questions. Sanders was the closest match for me. Unfortunately, I do not expect Sanders to win the nomination of his party. If he somehow managed to do so, I am quite skeptical that he would be able to accomplish much of what he says he wants to do in office. That said, I do like that he seems serious about trying. I find that admirable, and it makes me like him even more.

Back in July, I wrote that if the Democratic primary was held then that I would probably vote for Sanders. I still feel that way. In fact, even though I have not completely made up my mind yet, I feel even more inclined to vote for Sanders now than I did then. I was not particularly impressed with his performance in the first Democratic debate in October; however, I thought he improved across the next debates and other televised appearances. Now if he'd just do something about some of the moronic statements being made by his staffers on the @SenSanders Twitter account, my opinion of him would improve even more!

Because I do not believe that Sen. Sanders has much of a chance of winning the Democratic nomination, I have taken interest in one of the biggest controversies currently raging on the political left: assuming that Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, will you vote for her? I cannot seem to look at Facebook without seeing liberals arguing over this question. Many Sanders supporters do not care for Clinton, and some seem to despise her with a real intensity. I wonder how many of them will vote for her when she wins the nomination?

My answer to this question of whether I could realistically see myself voting for Clinton has been and continues to be, "I'm not sure." I don't say that to enrage people (which it often seems to do) but because I am really not sure yet. I've never particularly cared for Clinton. As much as I want to believe that her positions have shifted to the left, I am skeptical. But as of this moment, I'd say that it is more likely that I would vote for her than not in the event that she wins the nomination.

Of all the arguments I have seen that those who support Sanders should be prepared to vote for Clinton in the general election, the one I find most compelling is also the simplest:
Clinton may be "Republican lite" (i.e., too hawkish, in bed with Wall Street, less liberal than she is now attempting to appear); however, isn't Republican lite at least marginally better than full Republican? Would you rather see any of the current Republican candidates elected instead of her?
I'm not suggesting that this is a good argument in any absolute sense, that you should be persuaded by it, or that I am necessarily persuaded by it. As I said above, I'm still not completely sure I could vote for her even though I am leaning that way. What I am saying is that I think this is Clinton's key argument and probably the best one she's got.

Clinton was quoted in a recent article in The Washington Post making precisely this argument:
I think it's very dangerous to look at the alternatives and believe that your staying home is a responsible choice. It's hard for me to believe that anybody who would support Senator Sanders would want to see any of the Republicans elected president of the United States.
I love the suggestion that not voting for her could be "dangerous." It sounds like something one of the Republicans candidates would say. I mean, it sounds like something pretty much all of the Republican candidates did say.

Not only will this be Clinton's key argument, but it will be the one anyone tempted to look to third party options will have thrown at them by Clinton supporters and Democratic party loyalists. Voting for anyone other than the party-approved candidate, they will insist, hands a victory to the Republicans.

For those of us on the left who are not fans of Clinton, it may be worth giving some thought to the question of what we'll do after she wins the nomination. How about you? Can you vote for Clinton?