Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Feeling the Bern


Yes, I'm glad Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary. I plan to vote for him in the Illinois primary on March 15th because I'm a leftist hot-head and I tend to back the candidate who is the farthest left. What Bernie has said about universal health care coverage, regulating Wall Street, making the minimum wage a true living wage and providing free higher education all make him farther left than Clinton, so he has my vote.

I admit that I don't expect him to win the Democratic nomination. That will almost certainly be Clinton. And when Clinton gives her acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, I'll willingly change my support to her against whatever nutjob the Republican party throws up as its candidate. I'm a Democrat by birth and a far-left-radical from experience. When the election comes down to Hillary Clinton against a Republican, she'll be the candidate who's farthest left and I'll happily go with her.

But it would be fascinating to see a national election with Sanders and Trump. They definitely have their similarities: outsiders with little or no decision-making experience, playing the angry old man trope and appealing to people's frustration with D.C. and big-business-as-usual. They also pronounce the word "huge" the same way. In fact, some Trump supporters say their second choice is Sanders and some Sanders supporters say Trump is theirs. Ideologically, that seems completely crazy, but if you evaluate the two candidates using only your heart and your gut (and turn your brain off), they can feel similar.

Or maybe it's spite voting. Maybe those Sanders supporters oppose Clinton so strongly that they'd rather support Trump than her. And maybe some Trump supporters would simply rather back another angry man outsider than one of the conventional Republican candidates. There was a lot of spite in the 2008 election when disappointed Clinton volunteers changed to John McCain's campaign rather than work for Barack Obama's. When Americans vote against someone they dislike instead of for someone they like, things get weird. And stupid.

I know many people are voting for Clinton in the primaries strategically: they want to support someone who has a good chance of winning a national election and they don't think Sanders does. That's a valid strategy. But I've never voted in a primary in that strategic way. In primaries, I vote for the person I want as president, regardless of their chances. That's why I voted for Dennis Kucinich in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008. And it's why I'll vote for Bernie Sanders on March 15th. I'd just prefer him to be president more than anyone else running. That's how I vote.

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