Until a few weeks before the primary in my home state, I was seriously debating whether to vote for Clinton or Sanders. Both had pros and cons and for the most part I was simply glad that in my very red state, I actually had the chance to vote for someone where my vote could actually matter.
A few weeks before voting I swung firmly into the Clinton camp, and there I’ve stayed. What factored into that decision was articles like this that explained that Sanders doesn’t have a workable plan for how he will put his platform in place. Clinton does. Further, Sanders is a one issue candidate when the problems facing our nation are multifaceted and complex, and I feel that Clinton understands that in a way that Sanders does not. And what really concerns me, looking at things from a long term perspective, is that should Sanders get into office and fail to bring about the revolution he promises, the failure of his presidency will be blamed on his economic policies and not a flawed president.
Since voting for Clinton, I’ve become more confident in my choice. I’ve not paraded it. I liked Clinton. I also liked Sanders. But through time I’ve become alarmed and disillusioned at the sheer venom directed at Clinton among the people in my circle of friends that it almost seems like to come out and say I support her I would be branding myself a traitor.
And why this is so crushing to me is that as a liberal in a southern red state, I’m used to feeling like an outsider all of the time. I’m really guarded with people I meet because I know my ideas and beliefs are unpopular and scorned here. The online world is my sanctuary. While I understand the dangers about reading only like minded sites and blogs and talking only with like minded people, I figure I am so immersed in a religious conservative culture that I am very aware of their arguments and reasoning. So online, I surround myself in a liberal bubble and it’s been my sanctuary, a place where I feel I can speak my mind without being ostracized.
Which is why this primary has been mentally draining and downright painful for me. Back before I had made a decision to support Clinton things didn’t seem as polarized. But since, somehow, the contender that has a realistic shot at being the first woman in the White House who has a solid history of promoting progressive causes such as single payer health care (before there was Obamacare, there was “Hillarycare“. She also was instrumental in passing CHIPs), universal childcare, gun control, a women’s right to choose, etc, is somehow not progressive enough. In fact, in the two years their senate terms overlapped, Sanders and Clinton voted the same 93% of the time.
Is Clinton my preferred candidate? No. I was hoping Elizabeth Warren would run. Now I’m hoping Warren will run as Clinton’s VP. But I believe that she will be a good president.
And the ideology driving the Sander’s camp is starting to frighten me. Basically, I worry that Sanders will be a liberal George W. Bush. One thing we have to factor in when deciding who to vote for is who is going to do a good job. The presidency is too important to hand to someone who would bungle it.
However, I understand the anger that is driving people in the Sanders camp. I see this embodied with my husband, who logically felt Clinton was the better candidate but in his heart he wanted to vote for Sanders.
Andy and I had just started college when the dot-com bust happened. I graduated high school in 2000, at the end of Bill Clinton’s economically successful presidency. Expectations were high, jobs were plenty, the future was bright.
Then suddenly overnight the future became bleak. I worked as a cashier at a grocery store and suddenly people who had been working six figure jobs in the tech industry were working beside me for $7.25/hour. I went to a school with a strong tech focus, and my first year there most of my friends were telecommunications majors. In a week all of them had changed majors.
I remembered seeing my friends who had graduated really struggle to find jobs with a degree from a school in the area with a reputation for being rigorous and turning out talented job candidates. It was common knowledge at my school that there were no blow off classes. And while I’m sure partying went on somewhere, we had only one frat and one sorority and they didn’t even have their own houses and were famous for our chess team and didn’t even have a football team.
In others words, I worked my ass off for four years. And contrary to what people think, I really struggled with school (I have multiple learning disabilities. So while I have a high IQ don’t learn by conventional measures and really struggled for every grade. I am also one of those people who did better as I went further in school because I do better with writing essays than I do filling out multiple choice tests).
My husband has mild cerebral palsy and also struggled for his degree. And when we looked at the outside world, it was bleak for recent college graduates. And it was terrifying. I absolutely hated working as a cashier and I had panic attacks over the prospect of not being able to find employment suitable for a recent college graduate.
And here’s the thing. Our generation did not wreck the economy. We never had the chance to. I had only even voted in one major election (and I certainly did not vote for Bush) because it was the only one I was old enough to vote in.
While Andy was able to find stable employment in his field, it was for a fraction of the figures he was quoted he would make when he started his degree in 1999. Only now, ten years later, is he pulling down the money he was told he would start with. My career path took the more traditional tortured millennial form. Essentially I had to go to graduate school and put myself in even more debt to do anything interesting with a degree in psychology.
My husband is ten years younger than his closest aged siblings (he was an oops). His oldest brother died at the end of his college career and it sent his other brother careening, but he watched his sister and her cohort graduate into a healthy economy, find jobs easily that pulled in good money, and saw how their careers got off to a much more advantageous start. What a difference ten years makes!
And while they did suffer when the economy collapsed, they had the economic resources to weather it better.
So yes, Andy and I feel cheated. Yes, we are frustrated. We are mad. And Sanders does a real good job of tapping into that. But that’s also why I have become leery of him. Emotionally driven decisions tend to become regrets. And further, Sanders is really good at telling me what I want to hear, a trait I have learned to be cautious about.
And there is so much more to improving our country than busting up Wall Street. Clinton has proposals for things that would help our family. While Sanders has a plan for free college tuition, that will do nothing for families currently struggling under the weight of student loans like mine. Clinton has a plan, and two of her provisions would help us. Her proposal to help families of children with autism would also be a lifesaver for us. And, when women’s rights to birth control and safe abortion are under vicious attack, she is the only candidate fighting for this.
So if anything, I’ve become more passionate about Clinton, and more tired of Sanders. I’m tired of the venom directed at Clinton. I’m tired of seeing a candidate who I believes gets the issues and who is advocating for policies that will help families being vilified. I expect nothing more from the religious right, but other liberals and progressives?
And there at the base of it, I’m tired of feeling estranged from the people I usually agree with and who are in my comfort zone. While Sanders really has very little chance of winning the primary (the math is plain against him, and stop with the superdelegates conspiracy theories, Clinton HAS the popular vote), I am resigned to the fact that this is going to drag out until June and I am dreading it.