Thursday, April 14, 2016

On voting - I love Bernie (but I'm prepared to vote Hillary because Bernie might not make it)

Sadly, although I think Bernie’s ideas are exactly what the country needs, and a long time coming, there is a piece of me that cannot see him in winning the White House.

1) He’s a democratic socialist. For a large portion of the population over 60 the word ‘socialist’ disqualifies him from the office of the president no matter what words precede it. My father would have been one of them. Of course, for my father and many others, the fact he protested the VietNam war would have been enough to dismiss him. To argue that socialism, as described in the works of Marx and Engel and many earlier social philosophies, has never been practiced by any major government on the planet—the classic ‘well, it works on paper’ argument—falls on deaf ears. Or to point out that a democratic system of governance is as vital to a socialist system as it is to a capitalistic one—if not more so—will not be believed. There are those who still think that FDR’s socialistic policies led the United States down the wrong path.
 The dictatorship/oligarchies of the USSR, China, Cuba, and VietNam have forever, or at least for a generational lifespan tainted the words socialism and communism. A government may call itself anything without it being true. The United States has a record of propping up dictatorships around the world simply because they called themselves democracies and held sham elections. An election with only one possible outcome (and severe punishment for a dissenting voice) is not, to my mind, a democracy. Nevertheless, Bernie will never win their vote.

2) He’s a bit…tetchy. Certainly not to the point of throwing a tantrum like the unfortunate creatures running on the Republican side, but after eight years of “No drama” Obama, a grumpy old white guy might not be the best choice on the international diplomacy scene. I imagine that he will snap at reporters who ask stupid questions, not deliver State of the Union addresses in measured and dulcet tones, but rather in the same outraged—I hesitate to call them bombastic—tone he has used from the Senate floor, and hold little back when talking to and about foreign leaders. But he could surprise us all.

3) He’s a bit…disheveled. The mad professor from a northeastern liberal arts college look may delight us (especially those of us who went to a northeastern liberal arts college), but would look a bit odd shaking hands with the Queen of England. Again, throw a few stylists at him, and I’m sure he cleans up quite nicely. (I’m now picturing him in white-tie and tails—it could work).

4) It don’t mean a thing if he doesn’t have the support of Congress. Short of implementing a stack of executive orders—something I doubt he wants to do or even would do as ironically, that would be somewhat anti-democratic (the system, not the party)—will he be able to pass any of what he proposes?
 Even with a Democratic (the party, not the system) Congress in his first years, President Obama was forced to make extensive compromises to achieve anything. This of course, disappointed, frustrated, and disillusioned many of his supporters. Will Bernie be able or willing to compromise, or will it be four years of impasse followed by a Republican win? There would have to be a massive reshuffling of the old guard on both sides of Congress in the fall along with his win for anything to happen.
SIDENOTE: VOTE! Vote in all races this fall. The President, as established by our clever founding fathers (preventing, I think, a descent into the chaos and dictatorship of both the French, Russian, and other smaller revolutions with similar ideals which followed) is constrained by Congress, and much as we consider the President the leader, it is Congress who make laws. The President can no more issue an edict than he/she can wave a magic wand. They do not set the price of gas, the minimum wage, the interest rate, or anything else that is customarily laid at their door.

5) He might serve the United States and further his policies better from Congress. (See VOTE NOTE above). With Elizabeth Warren, and a few others (who don’t send dick picks) on both sides of Congress change might actually begin.

As to what I think of Hillary…

I don’t think she’s evil or any more of a liar than anyone else in government, and a lot less than many. I think she does want to implement good policies and make positive changes. My fear is that like LBJ who had the best of intentions, she may have made so many deals to get to the White House and be beholden to too many that she will be severely constrained in what she can do once there. Hillary has a lot of secrets, big and small, significant and trivial, and the Right will do everything in their power to expose every one of them should she win the nomination. Hopefully the left will not allow Trump’s many, many sins go unmentioned.

BUT let us remember: Hillary may take us back to the 1990s, the time of cronyism, and blatant compromise, where Liberals are where Conservatives thought they were in 1970, but ANY of the Republican candidates will take us back to the 1890s on the state level if not the federal, but with federal approval.

• Women will be voiceless, the property of their fathers and then their husbands.
• To not be overtly racist is to be the derided minority.
• Homosexuality or any other life-style outside of the mainstream will be punishable both by law and public opinion.
• The poor will be relegated to unsafe and unsanitary cold-water tenements, overcrowded and exploited.
• Education, and with it self-advancement, will be out of reach for most, with illiteracy becoming rampant again.
• And without protections, children will be working and dying in factories alongside adults, the weekend and paid vacations will disappear and Dickensian misery will be the norm.