My Dilemma As A Liberal Democrat

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February 17, 2016 by Chris Kite

Like many liberals and Democrats, I’m facing a dilemma with the 2016 Democratic primary. In almost every election, I’ve found myself voting for the least offensive candidate. Sure. I fully supported Barack Obama. And generally, I haven’t been disappointed. But there are some areas where he is well right of my beliefs, and that bothers me. I feel like we can do better. At the same time, I recognize that I’m well left of the “average” American and things I want most aren’t likely to happen anytime soon. I can live with that as long as the middle class thrives, the poor have a path up, and the country doesn’t flounder. By these measures, Obama has done well.

I really, really like Bernie Sanders. I like just about everything he stands for and all of his policy positions. He is truly a man of the people. He is ONLY looking out for the average American, and he is very friendly toward policies that promote the lower and middle classes. He wants to hand future generations a better planet from all aspects. Less war. Better environment. More upward mobility. Humane treatment of all citizens. He is honest, ethical, and has no skeletons in his closet.

There really isn’t anything I don’t like about him. I do think that he might be a bit inexperienced on foreign policy experience. But I think his “gut” serves him well and I trust him to put the right people in place that would serve the country well.

I also like Hillary Clinton. She is hard working. She is also looking out for the middle class. But she is also quite obviously looking out for herself. There is nothing wrong with that. It is very American. Insure your own success! Sure. She takes money from the big banks and from big business. And her policy ideas are certainly more centrist then socialist. But I think she would be generally good for the country. Maybe not as good for the poor and middle class as Sanders. But I don’t think they would suffer under a Hillary Clinton Presidency. She has quite a bit of political baggage. But almost all of it is false information that Republicans have been chanting for years to try to derail her. I think it can be overcome if she and her campaign staff treat it seriously and avoid the temptation to dismiss it just because it isn’t true.

So you’ve got Bernie Sanders shaking things up and not taking big corporate donations. Up until this election, it was truly impossible to do it any other way. So far, Bernie Sanders has done it a different way and appears to be succeeding. But can he make it all the way?

You’ve got Hillary Clinton representation mainstream middle of the road politics while also trying to look out for someone other than the 1%. But is this good enough?

And there is my dilemma. We’ve all heard both sides.

Side One
Bernie can’t possibly win a general election. He’s too far left and won’t get the centrist/independent vote. But we also heard he had no chance in the Democratic primary, and so far, he has proven everyone wrong on that. The primary season is far from over and things could change dramatically. He could continue to perform well and win the nomination. Or he could fade in the more mainstream states.

Convention wisdom says even if Bernie wins, he will never get any of his policy ideas through Congress. He is far too liberal and they just won’t cooperate.

I tend to agree with both of these. But what if I’m wrong. What if he can win. What if he can get things done?

Side Two
The political pundits tell us Hillary can win a general election. She draws the centrist and independent vote and has the big money support. Her political baggage may hurt some, but the Republican field this cycle is very week and has very little consolidated support. She seems like she could pretty much coast to a victory.

It all sounds logical and sound. But then I wonder . . . wasn’t she supposed to also coast to an easy victory in the primaries?

My heart tells me, “Go with Bernie Sanders.” He best represents your values and your ideas. He is rock solid in the ethics and moral judgement area and, much like Barack Obama, is likely to enjoy a scandal free Presidency. If anyone can pull this off, he can. He could change the political landscape, start us down a new path of representation of the people, and move us away from the era of bought and paid for politicians. The era of legal corruption.

My brain tells me, “Go with Hillary Clinton. Only she can win and actually have a chance of getting things done.” She is very experienced, represents a slightly left of center political view, and knows how to get stuff done.

Then I wonder, which is right. Truthfully, I would be happy to see either candidate win. But I have nagging feelings that either could be wrong. I feel like Hillary Clinton is a safe bet. I feel like Bernie Sanders is a big bet that while risky, could pay off big.

Then I look at the Republican field. Not just from a competitive standpoint, but from a “what if they win standpoint?” It isn’t just about the election and the next four years. There will likely be at least one if not multiple Supreme Court appointments. Can you even imagine the type of justice Ted Cruz would appoint?

The only Republican candidate I feel would not be an absolute disaster for our country is John Kasich. For most of the cycle, he’s been largely ignored. But he came on strong in New Hampshire and is attracting attention. But here’s the thing. While not an absolutely disaster, I simply mean, he won’t be as bad or worse than George W. Bush. He is very far right. He is anti-union. He is anti-choice. He worked for an investment bank (Lehman Brothers). He is anti-public education. He is pro-gun. He is pro fossil fuel.He is hawkish. While he seems to sort of concede that global climate change is real, he doesn’t really seem to be in much of a hurry to address it.

So I feel like this is an extremely high stakes election. Preventing the Republicans from winning is crucial to our future. A republican in the White-house would set back the middle class and poor more than they already have been. It will burden the 99% for the sake of the 1%.

And I’m still not sure which way to vote.

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