I’m likely to regret this, but I can’t keep quiet any longer without putting my two cents-worth in on the upcoming elections. Those of you who know me are probably surprised that it has taken this long, as I have never been one to withhold my views, especially on politics or religion, the two topics that my mother always taught me were impolite to force upon others. That advice, rest her soul, never stopped me in the past, and I don’t suppose there is any reason for that to change.
My Condolences to the Real Republicans
I do believe in choosing the best candidate for office, regardless of party, which is why I will never go to the polls and vote a straight party ticket. But, with the exception of some judgeships and local positions, and one terrible lapse in judgement in the gubernatorial elections, I’ve always picked the Democratic candidate. That is because, fundamentally, I find the principles of the Democratic Party to be more egalitarian and inclusive than those of the Republican Party. If I don’t have personal knowledge of the candidate, I trust that the Democrat will be more likely to uphold those principles. I admit that is probably a naive assumption.
At the same time, I’ve always respected the position of thoughtful Republicans on the issues of fiscal conservatism and, and for the most part, on the need to control government waste and spending; although, I believe that cuts should be made in the military before they are made in education and the programs that provide food and health care to our most vulnerable citizens.
But where are all the thoughtful Republicans?–the real Republicans who you could always count on to remind bleeding-heart liberals like me that money doesn’t grow on trees and that you can’t take liberties with the Constitution and make it say something it doesn’t say? The ones who could disagree with you and make their point and sometimes cause you to question your own beliefs; but, in the end, you’d both shake hands and go out for a cup of coffee or a drink together. Where did they go?
And who are these people who have moved in and taken the real Republicans hostage? These people who argue and shout and insult one another and call each other “liars” and “losers;” who talk about building walls and keeping out immigrants; and who promise to take back America but never say back to what, because they don’t appear to have any sense of historical knowledge or perspective about what needs to be restored, if anything.
My condolences to the real Republicans. You have your hands full with these people! I sincerely hope you’ll take back your party and become the worthy opponents of days gone by. We desperately need a rigorous two-party system to argue viable solutions to how our government will fulfill its purpose as outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution: to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. (Remember School House Rock? A great civics lesson for kids). The marching orders contained in our founding document are clear and as relevant as when they were written. The devil is in the details and it will require capable minds, open hearts, patriotic spirits, and a tireless work ethic to sort them out.
I’m not saying that the Democratic Party is a shining example of how to govern. Far from it. As a North Carolinian I watched while the past two former governors, tainted by accusations of campaign finance fraud and the late reporting of private flights, squandered their opportunity to lead the state in a positive direction, despite Democratic majorities in both houses of the State legislature. It was particularly disappointing to me that one was the first woman to be elected governor in North Carolina. At any rate, what followed was the election of a Republican governor, a Republican-dominated legislature, and a pro-business legislative agenda that has virtually defunded public education, ignored environmental regulations, cut social programs, and threatened to suppress the voting rights of minority, aging, and disabled citizens.
While the Democrats are far from perfect,they have run a national campaign that is civil, thoughtful, and issue-oriented; while the Republicans in control, have mostly provided us with a season’s worth of reality television. That’s fine if you’re looking for entertainment, but if you are looking for a leader with a vision for securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, I’m afraid you are out of luck–unless, of course, the real Republicans find a way to reassert themselves in July, when they meet in Cleveland for their convention. I hope they do.
Why Not Bernie Sanders?
I am encouraged by the number of followers attracted to the Sanders campaign and applaud the interest it has sparked among young voters. I support Sander’s call for major reforms to capitalism, including changes in the distribution of wealth to narrow the gap between the ultra rich and ultra poor. I also agree that government should provide universal health care for its citizens as a basic right, and I favor government support of education, including the support of free college tuition. Fundamentally, I am in favor of social democracy,when defined as a political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, and a policy regime involving collective bargaining arrangements, a commitment to representative democracy, measures for income redistribution, regulation of the economy in the general interest, and welfare state provisions.
I’m pretty sure that those who consider my words to be “downright un-American” have stopped reading by now, but if you’re still with me, check out this article by Bill Moyers who claims these views are as American as apple pie. http://billmoyers.com/2015/07/03/social-democracy-is-100-american/
So why won’t I vote for Bernie? It’s certainly not because I think his views are too radical. It’s because I don’t believe he has the leadership ability to make them happen within the existing framework of government. I’m grateful to Bernie Sanders for leading the charge for a more liberal Democratic agenda. I hope he continues to gain support and will go to the convention with his followers and demand that the Democratic platform address every one of his issues. But, like Moses, I don’t think he will be the man to carry the people into the promised land. I am betting on a woman to do that!
Why I Choose Hillary
Okay, that was definitely an exaggeration. Even a woman with a magic wand would have difficulty getting Bernie Sander’s liberal agenda passed in Congress. But if anyone can make inroads, I believe that Hillary can. Why? Because she is smart, she’s experienced, and she has a proven, lifetime record of public service. In what other universe would that not be a reason to endorse her? She may be too much of a centrist for liberal voters, but remember, she has worked all her political life for social justice, for health care reform, civil rights, women’s rights, and various other initiatives. The fact that she positions herself in the center at least puts her in the same orbit as those who favor a more conservative agenda.
Plus, she is a woman! No, that’s not why I’m voting for her; although, in the midst of all the testosterone raging among the Republican candidates, we could use a little estrogen to calm the posturing and boasting and bullying and competitive one-upmanship. I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because she is the best candidate for President and the fact that she is a qualified woman is simply icing on the cake.
What are the odds?
My prediction is that Hillary Clinton will win the party nomination and that she will go on to defeat Donald Trump, or whomever the Republicans ultimately settle upon as their candidate. But at what price victory? The general campaign promises to be vitriolic and polarizing. The winner will be declared by such a slim margin that she will have little political capital once in office. I hope I am wrong about all of that, but unless the real Republicans show up and take back their party; unless our congressional leaders can learn the art of political compromise for the good of the whole, those of us who favor social democracy can either move to Canada or sit here and wait for the revolution.
In the meantime, I’ll take solace in the fact that Hillary’s election would finally shatter the highest, hardest glass ceiling yet to be broken – the election of a female US president.