Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Bernie vs. Hillary, Clinton vs. Sanders: Fight With Clubs, Round 2

Francisco de Goya, Fight With Clubs. Same mire, different decade.

We're still a while away from the Pennsylvania primary, but who would have thought I could pretty much be recycling a post from 2008?

A few months ago, nobody thought the Democratic Primary process would go on long enough to reach Pennsylvania with more than one viable candidate. Hillary Clinton, the anointed candidate of the party bosses, would certainly by now have ground all of her opponents under foot with the aid of the full strength of the Party machine behind her.

Or: Barack Obama Bernie Sanders, the popular and charismatic upstart from Illinois Vermont, would have ridden a swelling wave of popular support that would have led all of his Democratic rivals to throw in the towel and jump on the bandwagon.

Or: Hillary Clinton, the one candidate certain to energize the Clinton-haters of the far Right, would have been advised by Party leaders to withdraw from the campaign, lest she create a backlash that results in a greater Republican turnout that there would be without her.

Or: ...well, you get the point.
For the record: I will support either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election. I will do this without reservation. I will not "hold my nose and pull the lever." I believe either of them is a superior candidate to anyone on the Republican roster, and their values align far more closely to mine than any of the Republicans.

I got to see Hillary Clinton up close during the 2008 Primary race. She came to Scranton and spoke to a cheering crowd of thousands who packed a high school gym. And after she spoke there, she came into the auditorium where the overflow crowd - the hundred or so people who couldn't get in to see her but decided to stick around - had been listening to her speech over a PA. When she was done with the huge crowd, she came into the auditorium and spoke to us, just us, for more than a few minutes. It was pretty amazing.

Before I saw her there, I would have said - did say, many times - that Hillary Clinton had the charisma of a jar of pickles. After that experience, though, I was pretty impressed. She didn't have to do what she did. After speaking to a huge crowd, what did our little group matter? But she did speak to us, regardless. It was really something.

There has been an industry of "Hillary Hate" since before her husband became President. You could fill a few shelves just with the books published to attack and smear her. Republicans have been as relentless in trying to destroy her and undermine her credibility as they were, and continue to be, with Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama, or Jimmy Carter.

But some of the very same attacks on Hillary Clinton used by Republicans - including the most specious ones - are now being picked up by Bernie Sanders supporters. Just like in 2008.

And I think it's shaken Hillary. She and some of her big-name supporters have made some serious missteps and have said some seriously unhelpful things, things that have served to alienate Sanders supporters.

If Sanders wins the nomination, I don't know of any Clinton supporters who are planning to sit out the election - or, worse, cast their votes for the Republican candidate. But I do know of Sanders supporters who plan to do these things. If Clinton does get the Democratic nomination, the only way she will win is with the support of the people who are supporting Sanders now. The same is true for Sanders: he cannot win without the support of the people who are currently supporting Clinton.

If the candidates and their respective camps continue to slug away at each other as they have been doing, the inevitable outcome will be a Republican in the White House for another four to eight years. Remember what happened to this country the last time that happened? Does anyone want to see a repeat of the George W. Bush years?

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