by Benn Ray
In the primary, I voted for Bernie. In the general election, I'm voting for Hillary.
I start this way to point out that I'm not some ideologically-impaired leftist who is willing to burn it all down by letting Trump take the Presidency if my primary pick didn't get the nomination. And I have in fact had real life conversations with Bernie-or-Busters who have foolishly argued that they think that might be best for the country - that letting Trump become president either can't make things worse or that he'll make things so bad that America will go progressive in 2020 (to which I say, Bush/Cheney 2004).
And even as a Bernie voter, I have, in fact, spent more time in the past 6 months bickering with fellow Bernie supporters than I have with Hillary and Trump supporters combined.
However, I am also not a Democratic Institutionalist. And many of the points I've seen made by Hillary surrogates recently are not particularly convincing.
"She's qualified to be President" is true. But it is also setting the bar very low (more on this below).
"She won, she gets to do what she wants" is also true, but it does nothing to make Bernie supporters feel included or respected, especially in light of the revelations as a result of Russia's DNC hack that the DNC was against Bernie and was never going to allow him to win the nomination. Also, it's not like Hillary royally trounced Bernie in the kind of numbers that suggests she can tell her opponent's supporters to just shut up and deal.
The Clintons have always been about political expediency, Hillary as much as Bill. Hillary was for the Iraq war until she had to change her stance. She was for Keystone until she had to change her stance. She was for TPP until she had to change her stance. She was for fracking ... well, I think she's still for that - I haven't checked in the past few hours. She instinctively defaults on most issues right of center until that position is untenable and then she moves.
I'm not really sure what Hillary believes, and in that way, she is sort of like Trump. But she's at least shown a willingness to listen to the left from time to time, even if it's only for her own, short-term political gain.
Bernie Sanders was able to move her left during the primaries, but that's not Hillary Clinton's natural environment. And unless the left continues making a lot of noise, she'll start tracking right like a motherfucker.
Why? Because, as her selection of Tim Kaine (hey, didja hear he speaks Spanish?!) as Vice President suggests, Clinton intends on running a conservative, traditional, by-the-book, general election, Democratic campaign, and part of that strategy means you come out of the national convention by ignoring/shunning your progressive base.
As a leftist, it's always a frustrating and disappointing maneuver to watch from Democratic candidates. But this time around, it's also particularly worrisome since so many Republicans have already tried to run a by-the-book campaign against Trump, only to see their efforts strangled by tiny, orange hands.
Watch for Hillary's speech on the last night of the convention. If the speech is hawkish, if it's right of center (and right now, the common wisdom is that it will be), then she's jeopardizing her election because she's tracking right of center.
Sure Hillary is pro Social Security. Sure she's pro-Choice. Yes, she's pro-rational gun regulations. But these are all things that should be core to the Democratic DNA - they aren't selling-point features, they should be standard Democratic positions on issues.
And yes, Clinton and Kaine are clearly capable office holders. They both have very impressive resumes in terms of holding jobs. But I want to know what they are going do in office, not just whether they can fill the seat. And as a progressive, they don't inspire me. In fact, I am dreading another 4-8 years of Clintonian triangulation, unforced errors and ill-advised compromises with the right.
I am not excited about potential leaders that will preserve flawed institutions.
Yes, I know I no longer have a choice. I know Trump has to be stopped. I know he can never be allowed to become President of the United States. But I'm also worried that if I'm feeling disenfranchised, how many other lefties without my pragmatism are too? And how many of them will do the wrong thing and let Trump take the presidency?
I understand it's Standard Operating Procedure for Democrats to take the left for granted, but I think this time it's going hurt them more than they realize.
So going in to the DNC, I want the left to make a lot of noise. I want them to make it impossible for the Democratic Party and for the Clinton/Kaine campaign to take their votes for granted, because I think that's the only way to prevent a President Trump.