Starting almost the day after (or maybe it was the day before?) that VT Senator Bernie Sanders announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for President there has been strong disagreement within the Democratic Party in particular, and all Progressives in general, regarding his candidacy. Most prominently there have been numerous arguments taking place between supporters of Sec. Hillary Clinton and supporters of Sanders.
To the credit of both the former Secretary and the Vermont Senator, neither has carried much, if any, of these arguments to the campaign trail. But for those that have not decided irrevocably for any candidate from any party it may be useful to review some of the debate points regarding the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and how it affects Bernie Sanders. Full disclosure, I am an unabashed Bernie Sanders supporter. Also, just to be clear, as everything stands in August of 2015, I will not vote for Hillary in the General. And I can confidently add that I will also not vote for any Republican. So yes, I do have an agenda. Very simply, most of the reasons that are being pushed by Hillary supporters to not vote for Sanders are based on a set of assumptions that are not very strong.
One of the most common arguments for supporting Clinton over Sanders is that Hillary has the best resume of any candidate in modern times has had to be President. There are 2 ways that postulation is really a moot point as well as wishful thinking on the part of her supporters.
First, is that the resume includes her position as First Lady at both the state and national level. But how does that translate into a qualification for the job of President of the United States? The answer is, it does not. Who can confidently say they are qualified to give advice about their spouse’s job? Only couples that do the same job, that’s who. And First Spouse is not the same as being the elected Governor or elected President. Yes, she was an adviser and probably a strong voice and even an participant during Bill’s administrations. So has nearly every other First Spouse, she just happens to be the first one running for President.
Second, even if we accept that her service as First Lady counted and the fact that she was a lawyer at the Watergate hearings are legitimate resume items that add to her qualifications the questions remain about the value of a resume. For the job of President, in modern history (post WW I) the person with the best resume was clearly George H. W. Bush. He served in Congress, was an official adviser to a President and he even served as Director of the CIA as well as Vice President. Additionally, he served as a distinguished fighter pilot. Was he a great President, or even an OK one? No. He was certainly not the worst President, but with all those qualifications his performance still fell short of anything remarkable. Resume is not a qualification to be President. A resume may get you an interview, but we have a long campaign season for the people to conduct their interview and to demonstrate your competence, resume or not.
Another, irrelevant attack on Senator Sanders used more and more by Hillary supporters is that Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. And we all know that Socialism means that the entire economy will come under the control of a vast bureaucracy. Sorry, but that is not Socialism, that is Communism. While both are based on similar premises, their implementation are vastly different. The Socialism that Sanders adheres to is used throughout many countries that also support a thriving Capitalist economy integrated with Socialist principles. The Socialism that Sen. Sanders wants to bring to the US is called Democratic Socialism. The name does not mean Democrats that are Socialists, it means that the government is a democratic institution created by the people for the benefit of the people. Sort of sounds like something a long ago Republican once said. The election of Bernie Sanders will not result in Congress being replaced by a Politburo, along with the imposition of 5 year plans and Party apparatchik enforcing conformity. Although that does sound like something a modern day Republican might think of as a good idea. Bernie Sanders does not now, nor has he ever advocated the entire political and economic systems of the US be transformed into anything other than a democratic system operating as an advocate for the people, providing opportunity and protection against the more powerful for everyone.
Lastly, the Hillary supporters insist that having Sanders even competing against Hillary hurts her chances in November 2016. And the roughly similar argument that only Hillary can beat the Republican candidate because she can raise almost? the same amount as the Republicans. Neither of these arguments make any sense in a open democratic election. First, only the media decides who is winning based on how much money a candidate has raised. I have never heard anyone ever claim that they are voting for Rufus Firefly because he raised the most money. And unless Sanders reveals some deep secret that somehow he or his staff dug up on Clinton, he is not going to say anything that will be used as ammunition by the Republican nominee. (I am certain the Republicans have been accumulating their anti-Clinton talking points since 2006.)
The bottom line is that all the pro Hillary supporters are using misleading information that does not stand up to scrutiny. And if you are a Hillary supporter because a) It’s her turn; b) She’s a woman; or c) We need to be sure a Republican will not win. Remember, that it is never someone’s turn to be President, and just as Hillary would be the first woman president, Sanders would be the first Jewish President. Neither is a reason to vote for either one. If Bernie can compete against an intelligent and competent opponent such as Hillary, what makes anyone think that he cannot compete and win against any of the Republicans running.