It all sounded so simple. The Dems would back Hillary Clinton but they did not want her to run alone. They wanted a primary – a sort of pro forma affair, just to keep her on her toes. She was the anointed but they did not want her to appear to be the anointed. In fact it seemed as if they needed Hillary because she was so experienced, but they didn’t really “feel” Hillary. There was a last minute groundswell for Elizabeth Warren.
When Bernie Sanders entered the race, along with Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, none of these male candidates seemed strong enough to change the course of the Democratic Party’s push to elect the first female President of the United States. O’Malley and Webb were virtual unknowns, not hefty enough in personality, experience, or cultural cachet to be any real force in the primaries. Bernie Sanders was a Socialist, for heaven’s sakes. Americans shudder at the faintest whiff of “socialism”.
The exigencies of the current state of our nation, are perceived by shell-shocked Americans with great anxiety. Faced with an economy far less favorable than projected, there is unexpected appeal in a senior citizen who, philosophically, has remained in the 1960’s for decades, and who preaches a revolutionary message that has finally found its powerful rebirth. This has become a phenomenon that is changing everyone’s predictions about who will be the Democratic candidate in 2016.
I have found such solidarity with fellow Democrats, all resolved that we must not let a Republican win the Presidency in 2016. That goal is even more important now with the Supreme Court suddenly in play. Bernie’s success is splitting Democrats into the Hillary camp (seemingly growing smaller by the day) and the Bernie camp (ostensibly growing larger). Most Hillary people say they will support Bernie if he is the party’s candidate. The reverse is not as likely to be true however. Some Bernie people say that they would rather vote for a Republican than for Hillary Clinton. How is that even a thing? The Republican’s agenda is in no way similar to that of the Democrats. Perhaps there is a strong desire to be a firebrand, an extremist – any extreme will do. It is as if there is no middle anymore.
It doesn’t help that Bernie gets such sweet media attention. The media loves Bernie. The media also puts on a sour face for anyone who is not an extremist. And Bernie has been nice. He has been the ever-well-received “happy warrior”; probably stunned and pleased by his success, by a reawakening ‘60’s vibe. There do not seem to be many bad things to say about Bernie Sanders. Some say that he has been slogging away in government and yet has accomplished very little and has not, until now, made much of a splash. But the people in his state do seem to love him in spite of the fact that single payer health care failed in Vermont. I have even been tempted by Bernie. I grew up in those same energetic times when we dreamed of equality for everyone, an end to war for all people and all times, and changing the “establishment” so that our government would become truly Democratic, instead of a Democracy in name only.
Hillary, on the other hand, seems to be no one’s darling. The media rarely has anything good to say about her. They pound away at her lack of authenticity, they say that people don’t like her or trust her. They say it almost every day. And some of these media folks are classified by the right as left-leaning journalists and pundits who should be allies for Hillary. “With friends like that who needs enemies?”
The fact is that Hillary has not led a quiet political life. Because of her marriage to the high octane Bill Clinton she has been in the limelight for decades. She was not just a helpmate either; she had her own career goals and she got involved. She got her hands in the dirt, so to speak. She was not just the great lady who told the gardener what to do, she helped plant the garden. She legislated. She designed the precursor to Obama’s health care plan. She travelled the world and met the world’s leaders.
Hillary is vulnerable to attack because she has been front and center. She has not been timid, or held back, or bided her time. She has just rolled up her sleeves and helped her nation solve its problems. She is vulnerable in so many ways because she actually “did stuff” and is accused of making many wrong decisions. The tough drug arrest policy of the 1990’s is the newest albatross being hung around her neck. She didn’t pass that program alone. Even Bernie voted for that one. We, perhaps, only see what a mistake this policy was in hindsight.
Bernie Sanders is not looking quite so sweet these days. He is no empty suit. He has become a powerful opponent, splitting the Democratic vote and perhaps even getting some Republican votes. Independent voters find themselves choosing between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. How is that even possible? It boggles my mind. I see nothing in common between these two. In spite of the fact that Bernie is now fighting to be President for real, he is still not getting a lot of bad press. I am even reading mixed results when it comes to vetting the plausibility of Bernie’s programs. Some authors think that there is some economic viability, most have reservations.
Is Hillary Clinton as bad as the media paints her? Do the people even know anything about Hillary except what the media has told us or hinted at or insinuated. Is Bernie as spotless and pure as the media lets him seem? I am guessing that Bernie is “as honest as the day is long”. He just does not seem very materialistic or in possession of any strong personal ambition. While these qualities may make him a trustworthy leader, will they make him a powerful and a flexible leader? I don’t think Bernie Sanders is good at compromising. I think that may be his Achilles heel. I saw the camera catch a look on Bernie’s face the other day which did not look at all sweet, or flexible either. Look up “Bernie faces” on Google Images. He is not always so sunny these days.
What I am saying is that Bernie Sanders is creating a split between me and other Democrats who I thought of as my allies against the Republicans and that this split has me worried. I am also worried that it is looking less and less like Hillary Clinton is the most viable Democratic candidate among Democrats. We had better hope that if Bernie Sanders and the fans of revolution get the nomination that they can actually carry the day. Will the word “socialism” be used as a club to beat Bernie up and will the majority of American voters come to his defense?
I refuse to give up on Hillary yet. We wait, we listen, we watch, we express our thoughts – but we won’t know until we know.
By Nancy Brisson