So? Who did I vote for today, in Connecticut’s primary?

This year’s presidential primary has been incredibly challenging. Not just for the country, but for me personally. Today, even as I entered the polling place, I had committed to neither Hillary nor Bernie.

I will certainly not face a similar problem in November. I will support whatever Democrat stands against Trump, Cruz, the ostensibly “reasonable” Kasich, or any other Tea-Party-satisfying person the Republicans might offer.

So what’s been my problem during this primary season?

Let’s start with the wide array of things I actually do support: the rights of women; the rights of black and brown and red and yellow people; the rights of people of all (or no) religions; the rights of those who cannot or simply will not embrace the heterosexual norm; the rights of all working people to know they are free of poverty; the rights of other people, in other nations, not to fear the armored intrusions of the United States; and, perhaps most of all, the need for governments throughout the world to do everything possible to protect our planet.

I know that no Republican candidate opens his clenched arms to the suffering immigrants who seek comfort in our nation. I think it’s clear such Republicans do not care about the Latino workers who have, through their labor, saved the agricultural and building trades of our country. I know that the vast majority of Republicans, both in state houses and in Congress, deny or dismiss the importance of global warming. I know it’s obvious that no Republican disavows the jingoistic fervor that has informed our hateful foreign policy stances prior to Obama’s also troublesome administration.

But I also know that Hillary Clinton is one of the chief architects and ongoing supporters of those hawkish foreign policies, from her rash eagerness to unseat the Libyan government to her unwavering support of Netanyahu’s oppressive regime. In 2008, I was still furious over her vote to grant George W the power to unleash the terrorism made explicit by the choice of “Shock and Awe” to characterize our invasion of Iraq. I might more easily forgive her lack of judgment and humanity if she were not still one of the most bellicose Democrats in our government.

On the other hand, Hillary is a brilliant feminist and resolute champion of women’s rights—reproductive, economic, and cultural. I have also long admired Clinton’s wonderful wonkiness, her mastery of details and her ability to field any question and to explain her position on any and all complex issues. She is so brilliant in so many ways. Besides, she ranked as one of the most liberal members of the Senate throughout her tenure representing New York in D.C., well to the left of Joe Biden and only slightly to the right of Bernie Sanders, so the insistent notion that she is in the thrall and pocket of Wall Street doesn’t survive a search for supporting evidence.

And then there’s Bernie Sanders. I’ve always been a fan. I am, after all, a somewhat bohemian Unitarian. I am proud to be a union member because unions empowered the working class, making it (at least for a while) the middle class. I am the son of a doctor and hospital administrator who always hoped single-payer health insurance would come to America. I am a teacher who believes that education is a road toward fulfillment, empowerment, and liberation, and who, as a result, certainly wants us to find some way of guaranteeing an advanced education for every citizen ready to prosper in college. And, just as I am delighted to have an accomplished woman on the verge of being our next president, I am tickled pink to see a Jewish socialist also in the running.

On the other hand, Bernie has a stridently self-righteous streak that leaves him dismissive of anyone not ready for his particular brand of revolution. And in the past, he has never been very successful as a revolutionary. He has “crossed the aisle” to strike the occasional deal, but prior to this exceptionally odd year in U.S. politics, he never showed the savvy—the congressional street smarts—to emerge as a real political force, a truly meaningful agent of change. I delight to see him having an influence on the Democratic Party policies now, and I hope he will, should he lose the nomination, keep up the ardent pressure on mainstream Democratic thinking. I love his values. I question his political abilities. I see him, should he be elected, as the next Jimmy Carter: a truly great man and sadly failed president.

So? Who did I vote for today, in Connecticut’s primary?

When I started writing this piece, I thought I would reveal my vote in the end. (You know…Relieving the tension created by my earlier inability to decide.) I did cast a vote. I did make a choice. But I also realize that the choice isn’t the point.

What really matters, at least to me, is that Democrats and independents recognize the absurdity and mindlessness of the Republican contenders. That we who support Sanders or Clinton absolutely must, in November, vote for whichever one wins the nomination. If you are sick of voting for “the lesser of two evils,” you have to get over it. The presidential election will not be about a lesser evil. It will be about a thoughtful and experienced candidate who deserves support because he or she stands in opposition to a yahoo who represents a reactionary, narrow-minded, cruel, racist, homophobic, and anti-science vision of the world.

Do you Feel the Bern? Are you High on Hillary? I applaud you, either way. But the two of you must not devour each other in the face of a truly great enemy. It’s already time to unite.

 

 

2 thoughts on “So? Who did I vote for today, in Connecticut’s primary?

  1. Your offhand comments, about half way down, are a perfect example of why the Democratic Party is leaving me behind, as it shifts to the extreme left, a place that meets the far right.

    I believe in almost all of the things you CLAIM to believe in – women’s rights, the rights of racial minorities, freedom of religion (and freedom from religion, for those who do not wish to follow one), good healthcare for everyone in the country, the opportunity to earn a decent standard of living, which includes affordable access to vocational training and to higher education, the protection of our environment, so my children, and some day my grandchildren, can enjoy this lovely planet.

    But your implicit assumption that Israel, of all the nations in the world, is the foremost evil we face – that goes beyond the pale! You don’t bother to mention any of the TRULY evil regimes supported or tolerated by our country – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, N. Korea, … – and yet you single out the democratically elected leader of the Middle East’s ONLY functioning democracy, the only country in the region that embodies all those liberal values you JUST CLAIMED to believe in – and call it “an oppressive regime”!!!

    I voted yesterday, in the Democratic primary. But unlike you, I cannot guarantee that I will vote for a Democrat in the general election. That depends on who wins the nomination. I will not support a candidate who is willing to abandon our one staunch ally in the Middle East – our most staunch ally in the world, the country that has voted with the US at the UN more times than any other. And I will not support someone whose naively optimistic view of the world leads them to believe that terrorists are just oppressed and misunderstood people, fighting back the only way they can. That’s just pure BS. ONE religion, in its extreme form, has spawned almost all of the international terrorism (and much of the domestic terrorism) in the last few decades. And that extremist religion is a threat to the entire world. Ignoring the threat will not make it go away. Appeasing the extremists will not make them love us, it will make them view us as weak, and ripe for attack. Their mentality is NOT our mentality. TALK to psychologists and psychiatrists and sociologists and anthropologists who have studied their culture and their mindset. Radical Islam is a threat to everything real liberals hold dear.

    That does not mean ALL Muslims. It does not mean all Arabs. But it does mean Radical Islamic regimes that condemn women to have to wear a burqua, and refuse to let them leave the house unchaperoned. It does mean Radical Islamic regimes that hang people for being gay, stone women for adultery (even when they are raped), and turn a blind eye to “honor killings”. And it DOES mean the terrorist organizations that are trying to destroy both Israel and the US.

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  2. Clearly I disagree with some of what you write here — especially because I really can pledge to vote against any Republican candidate presently in the running. I agree with you, though, concerning some of what you say about Israel, especially as compared to Saudi Arabia. I singled out Netanyahu solely because Clinton supports him so wholeheartedly, so uncritically, and I certainly do not. I don’t think that means I picked on the very nation of Israel, which, as Bernie Sanders also insists, does have the absolute right to exist (and thus to our protection) but not the right to mistreat Palestinians. As for Iran, North Korea, and Iran, we do indeed “tolerate” them, but we certainly don’t support them. Would you have us be less tolerant? Would you have us declare war?

    As for my failing to mention the problem of Islamic terrorism, I saw no need to mention an issue on which the two Democratic contenders are not particularly far apart. Do you think that Bernie “believe[s] that terrorists are just oppressed and misunderstood people, fighting back the only way they can”? I don’t think he’s been quite that off-handed about the threat of ISIS or Al Qaeda. (And he did support our invasion of Afghanistan.) He has argued, as I would, that our invasion of Iraq destabilized the region and ushered in the worst terrorism and refugee crisis of my lifetime.

    In any case, I’m not really sure why you believe the issue of terrorism had to play a role in my comments. If it is because you believe the rise in Islamic terrorism justifies the proliferating Israeli settlements on the West Bank, I simply have to disagree.

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