Hillary to voters: "I got this." Voters and Bernie to Hillary: "Not so fast."
–Kevin Martin, Executive Director
Somehow I had avoided watching more than a few minutes of any of the presidential debates of either party prior to last night (presumably I’ll live longer for it), but I tuned in to the chatfest from Milwaukee somewhat dutifully. My main interests were how would Bernie Sanders come across (reasonable or no) and how desperate would Hillary Clinton be after the shellacking New Hampshire voters gave her on Tuesday.
Generally speaking, I think Mrs. Clinton is plenty desperate to be president, but for the most part last night she did not betray that, other than nakedly obvious pandering to African American voters in continually praising President Barack Obama. Instead, for now Hillary’s main argument to the voters comes down to “I got this, I can manage things” on whatever issues come up. As Bernie said however (to repeated presumptive off-key “when I’m in the White House” statements by Hillary), she’s not in the White House, yet, and I suspect odds are about even she won’t be come next January.
I could go into her high negatives with voters, her hawkishness and militaristic bent (more on that soon, but it’s not a big stretch to say her 2002 vote to support the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq may cost her the presidency once again, as it did in 2008), her Wall Street patrons and other problems, but my main sense is her “I got this” mantra is weak tea compared to Bernie’s call for a political revolution.
One need not necessarily believe our country, the world, humanity and our very Earth are in mortal danger (from MLK’s “triple evils” of racism, militarism and extreme materialism), as I do, to get on board Bernie’s “A future you can believe in” train, though it’s easy to see why young voters, even young women, are doing so in droves. Americans, at least the ones voting in Democratic primaries (to limit the scope of this for now) broadly agree on the problems we face, so the question is not just who has better solutions, but whose campaign wants to empower people to “be the change we seek in the world,” to quote Mohandas Gandhi. One could also just compare, on every issue, that Bernie’s proposals, far from being radical, would actually solve the problems they are intended to address (or at least go a long way toward doing so), while Hillary tut-tuts condescendingly that Bernie is unrealistic, but they share the same goals (a victory for Sanders), and then offers more tepid proposals.
On both scores, concrete solutions and empowerment, Bernie is the far more genuine candidate. I don’t believe it’s even close.
Lastly, recent “I got this” presidential candidates, broadly defined as those who were complacent, overconfident or felt entitled to the White House, usually lose (Jimmy Carter 1980, George Herbert Walker Bush 1992, Bob Dole 1996, Al Gore 2000, John Kerry 2004, John McCain 2008, Mitt Romney 2012). Perhaps Barack Obama was an “I got this” candidate in 2008 and 2012, but he benefited from the country’s revulsion with the Bush/Cheney train wreck and extremely weak general election opponents in McCain (with running mate Sarah Palin!) and then Romney.
So no, Hillary, you ain’t got this, not by a long shot, and your “I will fight for you” mantra rings very hollow to me. You don’t have credible solutions to the crises in health care, the economy, climate change, racism, police brutality, extreme wealth disparity or even your supposed strong suit, foreign policy. Lots more campaigning to do, lots more votes to be counted, and I suspect many more people supporting Bernie for real hope and practical solutions they can help be a part of creating.