The Pause Before the Votes

The caucuses and primaries begin in a couple of weeks, so shit’s about to get real. I haven’t been able to watch the debates, but I do read the reviews, and here are my thoughts at the moment regarding Sanders and Clinton.

Bernie Sanders has the stronger, clearer vision of where the country, and the Democratic Party, need to go next. He also seems to have the stronger grasp of the underlying issue of big money corroding democracy. However, there’s a compelling argument that Hillary Clinton is better at the nuts-and-bolts stuff and would be a more pragmatic choice in the short term. I’m not going to argue which candidate is more electable, because they both have strengths and vulnerabilities. We’ll see how they do in the primaries.

My biggest fear of a Hillary Clinton term in office is that it will be more of kicking the progressive can down the road, in hopes of some bright, shiny future when the progressive vision can be actualized. This leads to people getting turned off and giving up on participatory democracy, especially younger people. Sanders, I think, understands that nothing will change unless it’s forced to change.

My biggest fear of a Bernie Sanders term in office is that once he gets into the give-and-take of actually governing, which means making some compromises, the progressive Left will turn on him as rabidly as they did on Obama. In a weird kind of way this is an advantage for Clinton, whom progressives expect to sell us out. When she makes compromises it won’t cost her as much support.

I also question how much of his vision Sanders can accomplish without a progressive majority in Congress. I suspect we’re stuck with tweaks no matter which Dem is in the White House, as long as the Wingnut Right is still calling the shots. However, a Republican in the White House is unthinkable. I have to believe that won’t happen.