Soon after I post this, I will be off to my polling place to vote in the primary for my state (Michigan). I’m a lifelong Democratic voter and I will be continuing that trend this primary season. My party has two strong, likable candidates, either of which would make a good president and both of whom I think can win in November. I want to vote for them both, but sadly I have to choose.
This year, I’m voting for Bernie Sanders in the primary, even though I ultimately think Hillary Clinton will win the party nomination.
Here’s the thing, no. 1: I like Sanders. I really do. I like his platform, I like his speeches, I like his pie-in-the-sky ideas about college and all the rest. That’s not to say that I think a Sanders administration would stand a snowball’s chance of getting 95% of his ideas implemented; politics doesn’t work that way. But if the Affordable Care Act taught us anything, it’s that when big ideas are actually put forward, something can be accomplished, even if it’s a lesser result than was originally proposed. So why not think big?
Here’s the thing, no. 2: I don’t think Bernie will win this nomination. Unlike the current Republican base, the current Democratic base isn’t interested in extreme upheaval in the presidential status quo. Obama has had a good run, and Hillary, by and large, can be framed as a continuation of the kind of executive action we’ve had for the last eight years. And with the likelihood of Trump as the opposition nominee becoming ever-more-likely every day, I ultimately think Clinton will be seen as more palatable to moderate undecideds (which are vital for a national win). However …
Here’s the thing, no. 3: Just because I think Clinton will win, doesn’t mean I think she should be handed the nomination without a fight. She needs to sweat a little, to win this thing by a nose and not a landslide, so that she’s reminded that the base of this party is progressive, not moderate. The stronger and more fervent Bernie supporters are though this cycle, the more Clinton will feel the pressure to earn their votes during the general election, instead of just assuming she has them and going way centrist. Also, again, see point number one about big ideas being better than small ones.
So that is why I’m voting for Sanders today. I cast my vote in spite of the Sanders supporters I encounter online, some of whom are so obnoxious that they actually make Bernie seem worse because of their arguments. As in so many things, though, one needs to look beyond guilt-by-association and judge a person on their own merits, not on the merits of their adherents. I realize that none of this makes for a very ringing endorsement, but I’m not influential enough to make a difference anyway. I just wanted to add my voice to the debate.