Saturday, February 20, 2016

Why Hillary? Record vs Record

Hillary won the Nevada caucuses amid claims of dirty tricks from both sides. I have read many articles, essays, open letters, and blog posts describing why I support (insert name) or why I switched to (insert name). For the most part thoughtful, insightful, and well reasoned. Unfortunately, the debate and the questions seem to come down to gender. Younger people are universally for Bernie--or so says the media. Women who support Hillary do so because she's a woman (usually mansplained as women not having done the research needed to make an actual informed decision). Young women say that they are angry that older women think they should support Hillary because she's a woman. They say that Bernie gets it and his plans to tear down Wall Street and give free college are the reasons to support him, among other reasons designed to appeal to young people with uncertain prospects.

As an editorial aside, yes, I am generalizing. Women are not a monolithic, homegenous group. Nor are young people or men, or any other labeled group. That's actually not my point. To do so, I need to use the groupings that are already in use for these conversations.

I have given this a lot of thought and find myself agreeing with or disagreeing with points from both sides. I think I get the complaints about women supporting women irritating young women although again, various points of view and varied reasons can lead to the same result. That said, it's impossible to argue against the conclusion. Each point has to be answered; again not my purpose.

What I see, is a group of people who face a very uncertain future that I think most can agree was caused by (or at least exacerbated by) the 1%. Student loan debt is overwhelming when there are few jobs that will allow the average individual to build a life like or better than their parents in the face of that debt. Along comes Bernie promising revolution, universal healthcare, and free college. Hillary prefers to work incrementally and yes, has often compromised what should be ideals too pure to be diluted. She's changed her mind on major issues over time and gets money from the 1%. 

What I find sad, is that it is assumed that every politician is corrupted by contributions and is owned by big business. Perhaps. I agree that money buys access, but politics is messy. It's complicated and tedious. It takes skill to first run a campaign to get the job, then propose and gain consensus for bills. Not only does the politician have to form alliances within, but begin to campaign (and raise money for) re-election. Many politicians manage to juggle conflicting needs and still serve their constituents. Personally, I prefer to hire people skilled at the job so accept some of the mess that goes along with the sausage-making.

Of course, that puts weight on the Bernie side. Right? 

According to, Bernie ranks highly as far as bills proposed, but 2nd lowest in bipartisan support. Specifically, he tends to gather support from his side. Remember, he was an Independent until last fall and caucused with the Democrats. Bernie has been there 25 years. I speak to this connectedness because in order to reach his campaign goals, he will have to have Republican support. Period. If you want to read a really fascinating study done in 2006 on the effects of "connectedness" and success passing bills, check out "Connecting the Congress: A Study of Cosponsorship Networks." You could google that title or comment me and I'll send you the link (I'm working on cranky tech). Warning, it is peer-reviewed and 11 pages, but 2 of those are bibliography and several pages are diagrams and charts.

Also from govtrack, Bernie scored the most progressive, but well down on leadership. Hillary scored higher in leadership but I think most people agree that in ideology and voting recordes, they are remarkably aligned.

If you look at the categories of bills sponsored, Bernie was at 27% in armed forces and national security, Hillary 0. Bernie came in at 18% health, Hillary 14%, Bernie was 11% labor and employment, Hillary 9%, Bernie 10% energy, Hillary 0. Bernie was 9% government operations and politics, Hillary 23%, Bernie 9% education, Hillary 8%, Bernie 8% taxation, Hillary 0,  and finally for Bernie, 7% finance to Hillary 15%.

Hillary had some zeros (remember, these are bills sponsored). But her interest diverges somewhat as she then sponsored 11% science, technology and  communications, 10% social welfare, and 10% families. [source]

If you are interested in comparing the two bill by bill, those sources (and Congress's own sites) can delve into details. What I do not hear as we compare history, is recognition of the world around them. Yes Hillary campaigned for Goldwater (massive demerit) but she was in high school. Her time in the Senate was the years of W, Iraq and the meltdown of the economy. Yes, she has friends on Wall Street, but she was the senator from New York and they were constituents, too. They also funded (generously) speeches to support her foundation, but what does the foundation do? What percent goes to actual program? (87.2%). Google it. Yes, I'm unhappy with some of her record and previous choices, but I am more concerned by someone who won't change their mind or explain how they went from belief A to belief B. Can anyone honestly say that their beliefs have remained unchanged for the past 20-30 years? I didn't think so. But then, I believe in evolution, both in science, and in our emotional development. 

So Bernie is all about income inequality. Every question to him comes back to it. His legislative career suggests otherwise if you look at his interests. There are a variety of committees and sub-committees and legislators tend to gravitate to those areas that are of interest and hopefully, in which they have knowledge and experience. Bills proposed tend towards those interests which is why I listed the breakdown above. Amendments are numerous and success comes down to who you can get to co-sponsor and who they can get and so on. Having high-level friends (in terms of networking rank) gets you better chances. So personality, the ability to compromise, and working both sides is essential to success in Washington. 

Much of this article and the research I did came from how to answer all these people who see only negatives in Hillary and hang their choice on the "I won't vote for a woman just because she's a woman."

In a conversation the other day, we came to the conclusion that there are two types of people, politically speaking. There are those who like to delve deep, who get news from a variety of sources, who pay attention and have a history and a context. These people can place campaign statements along side everything else that person has said and done and remain politically tuned in all the time. Year after year, election season or not. Wonky nerds. The other type are those who somewhere along the line begin to pay attention, usually in a heated primary season but often not until the only commercials on tv are political ads. They may or may not read a newspaper or news magazine. They likely do not spend much time reading blogs or talking about politics. Their information and everything that informs their vote comes down to randomness. Family, friends, co-workers, always vote x, or saw a clip somewhere and the candidate seemed nice. Or not. Single issue, or what their pastor tells them. They don't have the context.

So when young women, or young people get excited about Bernie and angry when other women tell them they should vote for Hillary don't know the history. The forty year GOP plan to dumb down the voters, appeal to fear, and knowledge that if you cut funding for education and teach them that science is just a theory and build a culture around sound-bites, you can say anything, pander, and then get to Washington and do what you want.

You know that common phrase frequently heard from the right that "I don't hold my finger up to see which way the wind blows, I vote my conviction?" We actually should want them to see how the wind blows, or in other words, listen to their constituents.

The GOP has been after Hillary since she appeared on the scene. People don't trust her, but can't actually find anything that would show that. They say she's power-hungry and stayed married so she could run for president some day. Really? You heard all their private conversations? You really think that all politicians marry for and remain married for love? Even if she did have hopes and dreams to one day be a politician herself, what's wrong with that? We all have dreams. How many wives got their foot in the door to positions in or around politics because of a spouse or other family? That's how it works. Why shouldn't she want something for herself after all those years of being the wife?

Ever notice that Bernie is cranky, shouts, and oh, that's just Bernie but then tells Hillary not to shout?

I haven't seen any changes in Hillary since this campaign started. She has shifted some priorities but that's what we should hope for as she gets out on the trail and talks to people outside the bubble. I have seen a lot of changes in Bernie. Some good as he actually gets out in the crowd, but he's doing big donor fundraisers and has as much as called Hillary corrupt without actually saying it. He's tried to erase his lingering sexism (and suggesting that Hillary is playing the gender card when she talks about being the 1st woman president and then turns around and talks about being the first Jew) is a form of sexism.

So, my own thinking has evolved as I write this. I have always liked Hillary but waited a long time before deciding who to support. I will vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is, but I hope it's Hillary. 
I watched woman struggle for autonomy along with other groups after the civil rights act and gain ground slowly but always moving forward. I watched as the disabled fought for and gained rights. And for the last 20 years, I've watched as the extremist right has chipped and chipped away many if not most of those rights. Unable to enact the big things, the right has used funding to deny services. I watched as they continue to tell women that we don't get to say what to do with our bodies. I watched as young girls are told by the media to be sexy even as little girls, than shamed at school because they grow breasts and has to ensure that no one wants to rape her because her clothing reveals her shape. That's why I will vote for Hillary. When it comes down to it, because she is a woman and because she has gotten this far while a woman and because she knows how to do the job.

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