Well then, voters, it’s time — first, in Maryland on April 26, and later, in D.C., the last stop on the Democratic presidential nomination merry-go-round, on June 14. Yes, it’s time to belly up to the ballot bar.
The time for wish fulfillment is over. Decisions must be made.
Choices, even “hard choices,” to use the title of the recent book by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, must finally be selected and in way also scores must be settled.
Because, voters, it’s finally come down essentially, and in a way agonizingly, to one or the other of just two candidates in the Democratic primary.
Either we choose a consistent progressive voice, one whose election would mark a sharp turn in the right (ahem, left-of-center) direction for American politics.
In other words, we can decide to embark on a truly new turn of the political cycle in which we refresh the springs of our national journey — the one, for generations now, in which the arc of struggle bends long but it bends toward ever greater justice — and not only for gender issues but also for the basic stuff of life (income, wealth, power, and ultimately the pursuit of happiness). After all, when we vote we place a bet on our collective future and our individual hopes and dreams for a better world, in which we fulfill the promise of American democracy in both the economic and political realms.
In other words, we vote for Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont.
And that is my own decision as a voter whose life has been devoted to campaigns to enlarge the franchise and expand the democracy, from my first political hero, John F. Kennedy, to later ones like the populist agenda in 1976 of former Oklahoma Sen. Fred R. Harris, whose campaign declared that “the issue is privilege,” to former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey in 1992, to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in 2003-2004.
Or we vote for Hillary Clinton, the troubled and ever-troubling candidate of the mostly status quo, whose cheeks have been so very close to the jowls of Wall Street, whose SuperPACs are an insulting way to raise political money.
Bernie’s supporters average $27 in contributions while just last week in California Hillary’s backers in the Hollywood elite ponied up $353,000 each in an exclusive fundraiser symbolic of where her instincts take her.
That’s the choice, friends and allies in the LGBT community, not the ideal, mind you, but a hard choice. A choice where we let the perfect become the enemy of the good at our political peril.
Some harsh things have been said about Sanders in these pages by other columnists, by people who I must respect as allies but whose excess of zeal for Hillary Clinton have led them, almost blindly and with ad hominem willingness to misrepresent facts, to call Sanders a “liar” and to tell Sanders voters like myself that we’re children trying to barge into an adult’s game.
“Playtime is over,” we were admonished in these pages by one columnist. Get realistic, the Democratic establishment has been saying, and vote for Hillary. After all, we’ve been told, that she’s a progressive, and to some degree and in some measure, they’re right. Much of her career has indeed been a noble one, including working for the Children’s Defense Fund and fighting for expanded health insurance coverage.
But let’s be honest. Her foreign policy has been a virtually unmitigated disaster, including her zeal to back President George W. Bush in his mendacious and catastrophic decision to invade and occupy Iraq.
And then there’s her purported muscling of President Obama, against his better instincts, to topple Qaddafi in Libya, leading to the current nightmare there, with ISIS burrowing its way into that failed state. And then there’s her misguided insistence on pushing for U.S. meddling in the Syrian civil war, and her continued unapologetic advocacy to create a no-fly zone there.
And then there’s Wall Street. Full stop. Do I really need to document this one? No?
I didn’t think so either. Hillary Clinton, publish those secret transcripts of your high-priced, closed-door speeches to Goldman Sachs!
Sanders is far and away our best choice. Yes, Clinton has been OK, and even at times arguably brave, though not at first when it came to marriage equality or “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” where Bernie was right from the very beginning. And she wasn’t.
And then there was her very recent, cringe-inducing claim, belied by the facts, that Ronald and Nancy Reagan were fighters to confront the HIV/AIDS calamity that was ignored so cruelly by the Reagans.
So stop and think, voters. Can we choose a liberating vision over an accommodating one? Is a vote for Hillary Clinton — in other words, for the “same old same old, only more so” — one you will be proud of in the years ahead? Or will only a vote for Bernie Sanders meet that high standard?
David Hoffman is a D.C.-based freelance writer.