This blog officially endorses Hillary Clinton for President…not for any reason that you’ve read anywhere else.
The first time I could vote in any Presidential election, I voted for Bill Clinton…mostly because I liked Hillary. Check out the photo from 1992 of me next to a “Hillary” sign. Now tell me any other time you’ve seen, in a random window, a sign for a spouse of a major-party candidate. “Michelle”? “Melania”? Hasn’t happened, has it?
This time, I’m voting for Hillary because of something Bill said. I have been googling and googling and I can’t find it, but I know he said it more than once. He said, and I’ll have to paraphrase:
“The American people tend to get it right, eventually.”
YES. That’s right. That’s what this blog is all about. Not third-party activism per se, but simply asking American leaders to listen to Americans. That’s populism. Hence the prefix “popul-” as in popular, population.
I don’t have the same criteria as most of the people you’ve been reading. My main criteria is: will my President usually fight for what 51%+ of Americans want?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: rights are rights. No one can take your rights away from you. But when we talk about tax, trade, the economy, the environment…we’re not talking about rights. We’re talking about policy. And in our glorious democracy, policy should be left to majorities. And majorities don’t have to oppose the rich – except when the rich oppose majorities.
Democrats and Republicans nominally cite polls that prove that 51% of Americans want their favored, partisan policies. Sure. But for some reason, that never translates into campaign-finance reform. It never translates into trade deals that will lose fewer American jobs. It never translates into reforming corporate welfare. It never translates into recouping taxes from corporations who get local benefits while paying tax at overseas rates. It never translates into weapon background checks. It never translates into prison reform to exonerate the innocent and scale back mandatory sentences. Heck, what about banning the penny?
None of these issues resemble abortion, where Americans are well and truly divided. Instead, there’s an enormous consensus on all of them, the same consensus that drove Trump’s and Sanders’s campaigns.
The reason that none of these policies, all approved by at least 60% of Americans, have any chance in Congress is often because of lobbyists for the rich. In some cases, you also have certain cranky Senators or House members who freak out if, say, one fighter plane cancellation or one chemical regulation will adversely affect their district. And Congressman X promises to hold up every other single vote if their district doesn’t get its usual pork. So DC is caught in a Gordian knot. Thus everyone is disgusted with DC and the two-party system. And I absolutely get that and have been blogging about it here for three years.
However, when I look at the candidates, I say: who actually wants to enact the will of the American people, beyond the concerns of the lobbyists? I mean, usually. In my ideal world, we’d have an activist Populist Party which would support the 51%+ and present a real alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. But right now, four days before the 2016 election, I have to admit that I haven’t done the spade work. My vision needs to succeed on the local level for a few years in advance (a bit like the Green Party). So, who comes closest to respecting all Americans?
Jill Stein? No. She would try to drag America left. She wants the Noam Chomsky agenda. I respect that, but let’s not pretend that 51% of Americans agree. Plus, I have a severely autistic kid and I’ve seen the movie Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, and me and Jill have some other issues.
Gary Johnson? In some ways, I respect his libertarian views. But if there’s one thing the year of Trump has taught us, it’s that many so-called conservatives do NOT want anything to touch their Social Security or Medicare. Those programs, along with most government benefits (outside of foreign aid), are approved by LARGE majorities of Americans. Not Johnson.
Evan McMullin? Not bad. But he’s pretty much Stein on the right. Too conservative for majorities.
Donald Trump? In summer 2015, he had a few things to say which sounded good. He ruptured the GOP status quo on the Iraq war, gay rights, Social Security, and Medicare. There was a time, a year ago, when I saw the polls showing that Republicans considered him the candidate most likely to beat Hillary, and I had to nod my head in agreement: although he was way over to the right on immigration and probably a racist, he’d be able to “triangulate” (in Clintonian language) and point to all the Democrat positions he’d endorsed all his life.
But then, Trump gave up on triangulation. His convention speech was all fear, no hope. He disavowed any “moderate” position he’d ever taken. I could see myself supporting a Sandra Day O’Connor-like Republican. But Trump ain’t that. And besides, he doesn’t do his homework, can be taunted into war by a tweet, treats the Constitution like toilet paper, and seems to be the sort of sexual predator who couldn’t be hired as a substitute teacher.
So yeah, no.
Leftist Democrats see Hillary as a sell-out, Republicans see Hillary as the devil incarnate. I see something else: a center-leftist who is always looking for areas of compromise. This was the approach of Henry Clay, perhaps America’s greatest statesman. It didn’t mean Clay had no principles, it just meant that he kept his eyes on the prize, was able to reconcile factions, and preserved his principles. That’s why Abraham Lincoln cited Clay as his primary role model.
And it didn’t surprise me when Hillary cited, as her role model, the sausage-making we saw in the movie Lincoln. That’s what her husband did with NAFTA and welfare reform, and what she continued as Senator from New York and as Secretary of State. Sometimes you have to give half a loaf, but at least you get things done.
I’m well aware of the dangers of incrementalism, of a “career public servant.” Yes, Hillary has corporate masters. But she also sees how broken Washington is. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I believe Hillary will take steps on corporate welfare. I believe she will try to recoup overseas taxes. I believe she’ll work for a better TPP. I believe she’ll take steps on background checks and prison reform.
Basically, I believe Hillary is a Real Populist. Because of what her husband said. Because they’ve been fighting these fights together for more than four decades. Because they know that the American people tend to get these things right, eventually.
Hillary Clinton trusts the American people. And so, I trust Hillary Clinton for President!