Typical of the season of the scales, we must weigh and balance the political decisions of our lives as the evidence is placed before us. Looking at the next series of debates by the Democratic candidates for the 2016 Presidential nomination, which begin tomorrow night, we are in for a bit of a dilemma.
My friend Harris posted an interesting comment on Facebook this morning, which sums up for me what I’ve been feeling since the campaigns began this summer:
“I have not made any comments about the Democratic presidential nomination for several months, mostly because I am genuinely undecided and partly because the conversation[s] I’ve initiated have not ended well.
Here goes: I need some help and hope I can get some serious and not some “talking point” kind of responses. I dread having to vote for Hillary Clinton but will gladly do so if she is the nominee.
I am completely agnostic about Bernie Sanders though I support most of his positions. I am agnostic because I have a very difficult time supporting a candidate for the Democratic nomination who, as of late July, was supported by 2% of African-Americans and 9% non-white voters (versus 61% for Clinton.)
I am troubled by this for core ideological reasons that need no explanation but also because it is impossible for me to understand how a Democrat can win a general election if those numbers are not closer to 70% (though to be fair, I should pose this as a “relative electability” issue since i’ts not all clear to me at this point that Hillary would win next year, especially if one of the slightly credible Republicans is nominated.)
1) Yes, Sanders’ non-white support may have increased since July; 2) Yes, Sanders, if the nominee, would inherit much stronger non-white support (but I doubt at the levels needed to win an election); 3) No I don’t believe the polls are “skewed” or somehow don’t pick up a much larger level of support among non-white voters.”
At the end of Harris’ comment, he made an interesting plea: “do you have anything helpful to tell me that could get me more comfortable voting for Bernie Sanders?”
Harris’ comment solidified what I’ve been feeling all summer. That Bernie Sanders has been a very good populist on the issues. Hillary Clinton raises some big concerns amongst those who remember the 1990s, and her support among the 1% is worrisome. But, is Bernie’s populism enough to get elected, especially in these days of Black Lives Matter, the growing police state war against the poor and minorities? Would Bernie Sanders end up as polarizing a President as Barack Obama has been amongst the extreme ends of the American political spectrum?
Watching the commentary on the political blogs, it seems Sanders supporters have had to take these issues to heart. For some, that is a hard pill to swallow. Mr. Sanders’ populism has generated serious and growing crowds for his appearances, but given that a large segment of the American population — people of color, specifically African-Americans — are under extreme duress, Mr. Sanders’ position on income inequality does not resonate completely. It does not provide a safety shield for the African Americans and other people of color who are in extreme peril at the hands of police today as we speak.
I have regard for Hillary Clinton. I think as Secretary of State she has taken steps to assure her foreign policy credibility, and appears to take absolutely no guff from Republicans and their bullshit thrown at her for the last twenty-odd years. But Hillary is supported by a swath of people who have taken advantage of closeness to the Clintons to benefit financially– big corporations who have run the agenda of the country to our detriment and threaten to do so even more now that money has become speech under Citizens United.
Vice-President Biden, as much as I love old lovable “Uncle Joe,” seems to be dabbling in pursuit of the primaries, but has not yet formally announced. He has admitted openly that the grief he feels for losing his son Beau Biden to cancer this year has taken an emotional toll that makes a political campaign even harder. Campaigns are already an emotional trial for anyone in good shape. He could do it, but does he have the heart to endure the rigors of what would be a rough campaign against his Democratic challengers, and again against a rabid Republican nominee?
These are the questions we ask ourselves as we listen to the frontrunners who face the cameras tomorrow night. Even though we are fortunate to not have to choose which candidate generates the most hatred against gays and lesbians, women seeking abortion, Muslims, immigrants and gun control, we still have a thoughtful process to undergo. Who is right for the country at this point in its history? What do we need to keep the U.S. moving towards being a place that is just, equal and peaceful?
We have not answered those questions yet with our current leadership. Most of us have been and continue to be “pocketbook voters,” as in, “How does this candidate affect my personal bottom line?” But lives are at stake, now more than ever. As some people in America express concern over the ability to pay a mortgage, others are figuring out how to teach their children to not get picked up and killed by police.
The soul of the country is at stake now more than ever. Our national facade suggests we are doing fine as a nation, but we are a nation with a troubled past and present, a nation of increasing “have-nots” versus “haves.” We’re a nation of people who must decide whether or not to accept our changing role in a world that is poised and challenging us to meet it halfway; we can no longer insist on “my way or the highway.” As a nation, we still must address our past crimes against humanity.
We are a nation of people who are other than white, middle class, Christian and straight. And more and more, because of our actions and inaction in the past, we are facing karma in the form of immigrants who have had to leave their own countries for safety in ours, due to the mess we created in theirs.
It’s a much smaller, more interconnected world. We have seen the price paid for our mistakes across many nations. This price will come up again and again until we rectify our actions and re-define our national interests. We can no longer afford to think only of our comfort, but regard and address the pressure we have put on the world and each other. Our dilemma remains: who and what will put us on the right path to meet the challenges of a future we need to share with the rest of the Earth?
See you below in the comments.
Oh Fe, it’s so true, Libra times call for weighing the pros and cons of every little decision, and tomorrow’s debate will move us in ways we’ve not considered yet, regarding our best choice for the next Democratic presidential candidate. Seems to me that we are in a conditioning process, and with transiting Uranus (albeit retrograde) opposite the Libra New Moon today, there appears to be a portal that’s being offered to speed up the process. A way through.
Harris, you and I aren’t the only ones torn between the safer choice (most likely to win based on what we’ve learned from past elections) and the revolutionary possibilities promised by the other choice. If we had no eyes to judge, sigh, . . . could a cranky 70-something old man even survive the brutal campaign for more than a year? How long would he last after that if he did? How would he deal with Putin, etc.? We know Hillary is made of sterner stuff than most of us; she would be a “first”, a break-through for women, she knows the ropes, she’s smart. . .but. . . . we would LOVE to revolutionize the present system wouldn’t we?
This is probably a common “feeling” among many of us who see ourselves as progressive on issues but still aware of the realities (hurdles) associated with getting anyone, especially a President, elected in the U.S. It is a time to think with our hearts IMO, and the old common sense of voting for the most electable candidate means disregarding this opening for a leap forward in Evolution. Do you know what I mean? These are not your ordinary presidential primary periods are they?
A year before Barack Obama was first elected, transiting Jupiter was crossing over the U.S. ascendant. Pluto had not yet entered Capricorn. We had no idea what was coming, but we were inspired. That Election day in November 2008 the 1st Saturn opposite Uranus (of 5) took place . Today Uranus opposes the Sun-Moon in Libra and it’s effects will last for weeks. My hope is that we will build on the awareness we are going to gain from it. Today’s New Moon is only 1 degree away from the U.S. Juno and she never got a fair shake did she? Maybe this is her breakthrough moment, or at least one of many.
Tomorrow’s debate holds a sextile between Saturn in Sagittarius and Mercury in Libra. The full moon in 15 days (the last in the series of 3 super full moons in a row) in Taurus forms a Yod or Finger of God pattern with tomorrow’s sextile, meaning that the Taurus Full Moon must make some adjustment if, like I, you see it as connected to today’s New Moon, which also holds the sextile between Saturn and Mercury.
That 3rd super full moon at 3+ Taurus, activates/awakens the Discovery charts of both Chiron and Uranus because that’s the degree where Chiron was when he was discovered and where he was when Uranus was discovered. It is an interesting coincidence that Bernie Sanders’ natal Nessus (addresses issues of power abuse) is also at 3+ Taurus. I suspect Sanders will “adjust” to the needs of those groups he hasn’t fully addressed yet; the adrenalin will rise in time as he, channeling the physician Chiron, becomes more aware of them. Sanders also has Sauer (named for the rocket scientist) at 3+ Taurus, and so it’s likely he can get these issues off the ground and into the air.
We are being led in the direction we need to go, but we can over-think (especially with all the Libra energy now), but if we let our hearts in on the decision-making it will be much easier to get past the crossroad and down that path. Can’t wait to see how it goes tomorrow. Thanks for the warm-up Fe, and for keeping us moving forward.
What aliens must see as they observe the USA is a country preparing to breakthrough a history of only male presidents, or a breakthrough from big money owned presidents, or disintegration into chaos. As U.S. voting citizens, these are our choices.
As always, a true pleasure to have your input in my columns — your words bring so much clarity.
Either way, Hillary or Bernie or both, we have a breakthrough, regardless of our current struggle with decision -making. Its a good place to be.
So, big long reply coming (you saw it coming, right?) Grab your coffee cup:
I read an article this week that said that Obama may be our last liberal president — the next and the next will be populists. That means that their working philosophy will have to do with meeting the needs of the people — or at least that’s the perception — and we’ve got a picture of that in our two outlier candidates: Trump playing to the rage, angst and paranoia of the right, and Sanders seeking to restore that level playing field Warren talks about. Both populist, both authentic, different flavors. It’s true that liberal populism can go too far in ‘nanny state’ terms — but consrvative populism equals fascism. One is worrisome, the other dangerous.
If Joe jumps in, he splits the Establishment vote with Hillary — giving Sanders the edge. To my mind, Sanders already has the edge among those who know Dem politics because no matter how much Hillary leans left she’s still traingulating based on polls. That latest TPP announcement doesn’t help Hillary with her ‘trust gap.’
By the way, for those interested, the ‘break the mold’ business on having a first woman in the White House still looks very attractive — but so does having our first Jewish president, who has a flawless record on womens rights.
This is from a Salon piece by Bill Curry, White House counselor to President Clinton:
“Hillary’s recent epiphanies attest to just how much Sanders has moved the debate. If the TPP dies he more than anyone will deserve the credit. Trump has shown that a rich celebrity can succeed in politics without buying very many TV ads. Bernie’s proving that anyone can. In 2008 Obama built the biggest grass movement in the history of politics, but once he won he took it private. Bernie’s movement is built for his supporters and built to last.
“Bernie’s miles ahead of Hillary on the issues that count the most but there are two things he still needs to do. The first is to speak more to the problem of public corruption and inefficiency. On most issues most voters are Democrats, yet Republicans run two of the three branches of the federal government and stand a very good chance of perfecting their monopoly in 2016. Voters want to know that the party of government is ready to fix the government.
“The second thing he or any progressive must do is help people connect the dots: show how climate change, globalization, pay-to-play politics and mindless militarism reinforce one another, then offer them not just another liberal to do list but a coherent theory of the problem and a strategy for solving it rooted in values deeper than ideology. It’s been so long since any politician in America has done that and he’s one of the few who could. If he starts that discussion on Tuesday night, there’s no telling where this will all go.”
For a guy that’s only been at this for a brief spell, he’s got a lot of people on board, more than Obama had at this point in his campaign. If not Bernie this time, whoever fills his shoes next time — but I think he’s got a reasonable shot at being a real ‘game changer.’
At the moment, not everybody knows Bernie — but he seems to be working hard to get his message out to the various (non-establishment non-white) factions, and he’s willing to find the right people to help him. This guy isn’t smoke and mirrors — and he’s said again and again that he needs a movement behind him if he’s going to make anything happen. (Obama said the same thing and would have had us at his back if he hadn’t gone NeoLiberal in his personnel choices, much of which came along with the financial crisis.)
And here’s the crux of it, as we ponder ‘politics as usual’ — as be sez, it’s not usual these days. Hasn’t been usual for awhile. Sanders isn’t a spoiler, like Nader, who campaigned that all politicians were corrupt and the choice was them or him; if anything, that’s Trump’s position. Bernie is kicking along the populist movement started on Wall Street with #occupy — an actual movement that, I pray, outlives him. I’ll bet money that he increases his base substantially tonight, because he speaks the common language for the common good — and we’re desperate to hear it.
If populism is what has captured the zeitgeist, Hillary simply isn’t a populist, nor is she truly a progressive. She’s a moderate liberal and we could safely say that her presidency would be more-of-the-same (discounting the hawkish qualities that will surely put boots on the gound somewhere) stonewall and resistance from the Pubs (who loathe her) BUT there’s no lefty that can change that outcome — and very few undecided’s, in terms of left/right EXCEPT … Bernie is making a lot of sense to Pubs, who have written articles in the last weeks about how they’re shifting over due to radiscalism of their party.
It seems to me that we can no longer kid ourselves that we can elect somebody and then leave it to ‘em, go on about our business. That’s exactly how we got in this mess to start with — trusting the wolves to herd the sheep, even when they were relatively benign. Government for and by the people MEANS “by the people,” and while most of us don’t want that to be a factor in our daily lives, seems to me that’s ALL OF IT, in a nutshell. We’ve got to remain politically aware and involved, especially at such an important juncture. And frankly, I think it’s past that time that we “settle for …” what looks safe. So I agree, we need to follow our instincts and take our best shot at having the political experience WE REALLY WANT.
Here’s a really good read on this ‘swaying in the wind’ topic, from Digby, titled “It’s about power, people, and learning how to use it.” Good to pass around.
And last, let’s take a deep breath — there’s five months yet until the caucus to choose a candidate. Lots can, and will, happen between then and now, so let’s trust ourselves on this.
Thanks for the conversation, Fe … VERY timely. Let’s hope democracy is the clear winner tonight!
This time around I plan to be an agnostic like Harris until the smoke clears. So no band wagoning Hil or Bernie. So much teeters on the edge and how do we get to fix the mess started by reactionary politics?
The other factor is the racial disparity that is coupled with economic disparity. Hillary has cred in the African-American community and John Lewis’ backing which means MUCH. Bernie is still building that trust, which may take longer than an election cycle, and as Harris said — how does a Democrat win an election for President with less than 70% of the African-American vote?
As Harris said, I agree. I am not interested in talking points about Bernie’s performance on the current crisis which has spurred the Black Lives Matter movement. Nor do I want to get into an argument here. But Mr. Sanders supporters also don’t get the necessity of the concern by African Americans over their literal public safety in this country. Even as he is building a platform — how are we so sure he will have the tools to implement it if he wins?
For all, the stakes are high. For some the stakes are even higher. Justice in the country means economic and actual — as in your freedom to exist as equals. And your freedom to just exist. Until I see this glaring, bleeding public wound addressed once and for all by our politicians on a national level, I am keeping my voice quiet.
We should have Lessig and Jill Stein on the platform as well — they speak to issues that need to be addressed, which SHOULD be what the debates are about: informing the public.
If anything, these debates should be an exchange of ideas among Democrats and progressives. What will work? What’s needed? And the all-important — where do we go from here?
Thrilling to hear real conversation about who, what the nation is and can be … and intelligent, thoughtful people discussing it Refreshing!
“Enough with the damn emails already!” Classic BS (Bernie Sanders)