Why I’m Voting for Hillary
I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. As a young, liberal, white male, that may come as a surprise. Bernie Sanders has captured the heart and soul of my generation through a combination of emphasis on environmental protection, social justice, and student debt. His campaign has churned out t-shirts bearing his face among the cast of Seinfeld and depicting, in bold black and white, his arrest as a student demonstrator during the civil rights movement. He has successfully portrayed himself, despite being a 74-year-old white male and career politician, as an outsider on a crusade to reform government and return the reins of power to the people, rather than big-moneyed interests and corrupt politicians.
That sounds pretty good to me. I oppose unregulated fracking and support the Black Lives Matter movement. I think that the government must play a necessary role in the redistribution of wealth, and I think that college should be accessible to everyone that wants to attend and has the smarts to succeed.
So why am I voting for Hillary? She has been successfully portrayed by the Right and Sanders himself as milquetoast political insider, too close for comfort with big money, unappealing to voters, untrustworthy, and altogether too much of a con artist to sit in the Oval Office.
I’m not voting for Hillary because I don’t believe that; I’m voting for Hillary because I am a pragmatist. It is true that she will not provide the sweeping societal overhaul promised by Sanders, or the free-market utopia offered by Trump. But she does offer one thing that no other candidate can: progress and a return to a status quo, in which the executive and legislative branches can actually pass legislation in the capacity with which they were originally designed.
When you take a step back, Bernie and Trump are really opposite sides of the same coin. They are anti-establishment outsiders and they promise radical change to middle- and working-class voters who feel left out from post-2008 economic growth. Where Trump blames this exclusion on the collective “outsider” (immigrants, Muslims, etc.), Bernie points his finger at the 1%. Both targets are bogeyman of sorts, detailed in imagination but vague in physicality.
Sanders offers a solution to revitalize excluded Americans by offering free universal college tuition. Trump plans to seal the United States off from immigration and incentivize/coerce American companies to bring manufacturing, the soul of the blue-collar economy, back to American soil.
Both of these plans are unfeasible. Economically and mathematically, but most importantly, politically. The election of either candidate in 2016 will lead to a continuation of the legislative gridlock that has plagued Washington during the Obama administration, during which the executive power of the president has necessarily expanded immensely, as Obama’s attempts to pass legislation in the traditional manner have been met with unyielding resistance in Congress.
Ms. Clinton offers a chance to bridge that gap. She is a political insider. She is a moderate, hawkish Democrat that makes no claims about the radical redistribution of wealth or the construction of a wall along the Mexican border. She has striven to pass controversial legislation in the past, but she demonstrates an ability to drive consensus across the aisle that positions her well to compromise with Republicans on matters of budget and foreign security. In the latter in particular, her experience places her far and away the most qualified candidate for office.
Most importantly for me is that she offers the best chance to preserve the legacy of Barack Obama. They are different, obviously, but Obama’s commitment to green energy investment, hands-on monetary policy, and support for social justice has the best chance of surviving intact under a Clinton administration.
I don’t know what I think about Hillary Clinton’s private life. I don’t believe that she should have used a separate email server as Secretary of State, and I think that she deserves to partially shoulder the blame for the fiasco at Benghazi. But despite Republican efforts, these personal failings have not deterred me. I see Hillary Clinton as the instrument of a moderate liberal agenda, one which will continue to invest in green energy, continue to push states on issues of social justice, and will, despite her hawkishness, generally follow Obama’s foreign policy lead in pivoting American attention to Asia, urging military restraint in the Middle East, and positioning NATO to deal with a resurgent Russia.
It is certainly not a perfect solution, or a perfect candidate. Hillary Clinton is out of touch with the approximately 19 million fringe voters that have identified with Trump and Bernie so far, and is not likely to pursue radical legislation to address their grievances. If she is to truly succeed as President, Clinton must strive to reach out to this disenfranchised group.
For all of her shortcomings, Ms. Clinton is the best candidate to break the political gridlock in Washington DC. She will likely be able to rally the support of moderate and establishment Republicans in Congress, and in doing so, achieve far better real results in terms of forwarding the liberal agenda than Mr. Sanders, and more to better the lives of everyday Americans than Mr. Trump.
We have seen what gridlock does to a nation over the course of eight years. For my support of Mr. Obama, he has become the most powerful non-war American president in history. If an outsider lacking the political character to drive consensus in Congress is elected, such as Mr. Trump or Mr. Sanders, we face a future in which the legislative branch stagnates in its own fratricide and the power of the executive branch continues to grow immensely relative to the checks and balances imposed in the legislative and judicial branches created to limit it. Regardless of the benevolence of any President, a future in which his or her power is unchecked is antithetical to the very nature of this nation and the well being of its people.
As such, come November, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton.