On February 1st the actual voting starts in the Presidential race – sort of. That’s the date of the Iowa Caucuses, an event which is much more involved than simply voting. You have to show up and stay there for your candidate, literally taking a stand. Polls show that whether you do it by likely caucus attendees or possible attendees the lead for Clinton is small at best.
That’s a reflection of how much Sanders has caught fire through this pre-election season, and for good reason. Sanders is fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party – making it stand up for working people and a fair economy once more. It’s a good and noble effort and something to be happy about. But when it comes time for me to caucus, a month later in Minnesota, I’ll be supporting Hillary Clinton.
What it comes down to, for me, is how I read the job description.
There is no one more experienced in Washington and on Wall Street than Secretary Clinton, period. She knows her way around all of the corridors of power in this nation like no one else. The obvious attraction of Clinton is that when someone sits down at the big poker table in the big chair labeled US we should have the biggest, baddest SOB handling our chips.
That’s a double-edged sword in a good year, given that Clinton’s comfort with genuine power puts her at odds with the American public. This year, disgust with all of the institutions of our nation makes her experience quite a liability. Her net favorable / unfavorable has to change, as it makes Clinton sometimes seem like a weaker choice than outsider Sanders.
And it’s hard to say anything bad about Sanders. Not only has he galvanized the left into a potent force for the first time in a generation, even recreated it for a new generation, he’s done it as a purely class act the whole time. He’s never allowed himself to be distracted by whipped-up scandals and even defended Clinton at times when a cheap shot might have been effective.
There are polls which suggest Sanders is therefor a stronger candidate all around. If the party winds up picking him, or O’Malley for that matter, I would eagerly support someone other than Clinton in the general election. We have a good crew all around.
As frustrating as the zeal of his supporters can be, I really like Sanders.
Why not support him, then? Why on earth should we trust Clinton when we may not have to? Why not support the person who stands for working people like no Democrat since Robert Kennedy and have someone in the White House that we can depend on?
In the end, it comes down to the concept of a “Chief Executive” and how that works in a Democratic Republic like ours. And I don’t always agree with Sanders on policy, either.
Flash back to the last time our nation was in peril and in desperate need for leadership that defined the next generation. That was in 1932, when the Great Depression made the concept of democracy look weak all around the world. The Democratic Party chose Franklin Roosevelt – the person with the best resume for the job all around and an experienced power broker. Progressives, led at the time by Henry Wallace, were not impressed. They didn’t trust FDR and openly talked of bolting the party for good.
The reasons why FDR was successful lay deep in the mysteries of leadership and what it means in this nation. As a strong leader, he knew that he was at his strongest when the people and Congress had his back. He wasn’t there to enforce an ideology, he was there to get things done. That meant forming coalitions and, at times, meeting the demands of progressives so that they had his back.
Democracy, like a caucus, does not ask us to simply show up and vote. It demands that we all make a stand and stay a part of the process.
A truly strong executive has to be created as a coalition of people and ideas that represent the future of the nation. As strong as the presidency is, it’s only as strong as those who have the back of the president so that they can make the deals that get things done.
My dream ticket does not begin and end with Clinton. I want to see Martin O’Malley running for Vice President on a platform of wholesale reform of government – a good job for the Veep to do and something that O’Malley has a lot of experience with. I want to see Sen Warren out there campaigning hard, clearly in line to be Secretary of Treasury. I want to see someone with good military credentials, possibly Gen. Wesley Clark, also campaigning hard on the need for military accountability and reform, too.
And, of course, Bill Clinton becomes Eleanor Roosevelt, feeling everyone’s pain.
Would I support Sec Clinton without this backing? I’ll back any Democrat, any way I can, once the nomination is secured. But to realize this team it will take a contentious season that gets Hillary Clinton out of her comfort zone and puts this team together – to win more than the White House, but to take the Senate and state legislatures all over the nation. There will be a contentious US House to deal with no matter what, which is why this kind of leadership is absolutely essential.
If anyone can do this I expect Clinton to be the person. It comes down to leadership, vision, and unity. Clinton has the first two and needs to demonstrate the latter. No one else can claim that at this stage of the game.
Why Clinton? Because she has the experience and knows how to lead. We live in a world desperate for leadership at all levels. There is nothing to fear from a tough nomination fight because, if anything, it should show that she is capable of forming a coalition and giving in where necessary to make great things happen. That’s the leadership our system and our values demand.
So I will stand there at Monroe Elementary among my neighbors and make this case proudly. That’s what a caucus is all about and that’s what our system is all about. I believe that we need Clinton’s experience and skill – but we also need to stand together when the night is over.
It’s a good time to be a Democrat. Sure, we have Sanders to thank for that more than anyone. But my vote still goes to Clinton to lead us into the future.