Saturday, 19 March 2016
With the nomination process for the 2016 Presidential elections now well underway, the time has come for The Ephemeric to turn its attention to the matter at hand, beginning with a look at the Primary for the Democratic Party. So let's get this out of the way: The Ephemeric endorses Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's nomination for President.
First, let no one deny the unexpected success of opponent Bernie Sanders. An outsider and registered Independent, who proudly describes himself by that most anathema of political terms in America, "socialist", few would have expected Bernie to mount a serious challenge. But the Senator from Vermont has defied all expectation, and in doing so has reframed what would otherwise have been a largely symbolic coronation of Clinton into a genuine debate over the progressive values of the Democratic Party.
And let's be clear, we love Bernie. There is no other politician in America so consistent in principle with the integrity to actually stand by his words. When Mitch McConnell filibusters a bill on the Senate floor he puffs up his chest, and then just goes home two minutes later, then there's Bernie who sticks to his guns and stands on that floor talking nine hours straight for the benefit of his constituents.
Sanders is a gentleman and a committed champion for progress, but most importantly he's drawn attention to one of the crucial issues of our times, the out of control increase of income inequality. The situation is bad, normal people can barely afford to live in major cities, property ownership is a pipe dream unless you were lucky enough to inherit some, and the "bare minimum" for employees is increasingly to work for longer hours for less pay and be grateful for it. The system is broken and without urgent attention will descend further into outright exploitation.
So why have we endorsed Hillary Clinton, only to spend the last three paragraphs singing the praises of her opponent? The fact is that being an advocate for a single issue doesn't negate the other factors in choosing the best person for President of the United States. Case and point, Sanders' longstanding support of gun availability and draconian proposals to tax reform.
Hillary Clinton is very much an Obama Democrat, finding herself aligned with his brand of reasonable, realistic policy backed by empirical data and expert analysis. She recognises the need for economic reform, but at the same time appreciates the inherent risk to growth that comes with regulation and uncertainty. It's a complex issue requiring nuanced action, and that's what Hillary brings to the table. Bernie Sanders is too single-minded, and too black and white in his worldview. He frames the debate in a populist mind, a conspiracy of the "wealthy elites" that can easily be scapegoated as a cause for all our problems. This isn't the real world, it's simplistic and misguided at best, manipulative and disingenuous at worst. I have no doubt that he believes his cause is just, but his puffed up language comes off as a cheap way to garner support.
Then there is the matter of experience. Between her time in the White House as First Lady, her time in Congress as the Senator for New York, and her time on the world stage as the Secretary of State, Hillary enters this campaign as probably the most experienced candidate for President in the history of the Republic, with a broad array of skills and knowledge. It's an easy transition for a woman already familiar with the latest briefings, a distinct advantage going into an election.
The fact is that experience counts. Even Obama, who has generally been a good President (a more full analysis to come closer to the end of his term) proved as much with his naïveté in trying to work across the aisle with Republicans in good faith during his first two years, only to find out the hard way that there is more than just ideology preventing the Republicans from compromising.
Add to this the general importance of this election, with progress in the nation being perennially held back by the politics of partisan obstruction, and 2 or 3 Supreme Court positions likely to be filled by the next President. A good sweep for one side in this election could shape the ideology of the country for decades.
With this being the case, it's all the more important that we select a President who represents the moderate core of the American people, not just the loudest minority of one of its wings. And that really is the crux of my biggest issue in this Primary. Bernie's campaign is targeting the extreme base to rile them up with an "us vs them" narrative, built around a fictional bogeyman, on the cynical notion that the party that wins in November will not be the one that wins independents, but the one that gets their fanatical base to turn out the most. For lack of a better comparison, his campaign is being run like a Republican campaign. He's basically trying to generate the left wing equivalent of the Tea Party, targeting the angry and irrational. It's this classic Republican strategy to smother all available information to give the public the impression that whatever you say is generally accepted consensus. If every single comment and news article you see supports a falsehood, you'll be more likely to believe it regardless of fact. In summary: fake it 'til you make it. It was wrong when Republicans did it, and it's wrong when Sanders' campaign does it.
Now again to be clear, Bernie Sanders is a good man, but his campaign staff and most vocal supporters are too often being shitty and dishonest, and you only need to venture online to Reddit or other message boards to see the fervent, ignorant propaganda storm that is being generated in his name. It should also be a red flag to all progressives to see his campaign forming a bizarre alliance with the extreme right wing media like Breitbart, Newsmax and The Washington Times to flood the internet with anti-Hillary material. Rest assured, if those Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell boosting gutter trash are the ones working for him, he's not the candidate for you.
But this decision is ultimately about Hillary. Targeting the extreme fringe of the party will only serve to drive the parties even further apart. Hillary's campaign is focused on what is real, what is true, her policy is sound and it appeals to the regular, mostly centrist American citizen. It continues eight years of successful and relatively popular policy of the current President and puts our country in the hands of an extremely capable leader going forward during challenging times. As far as this Primary is concerned, there's only one woman for the job.