I think it’s a worthwhile question to wonder why Hillary’s efforts to run for president are always threatened by someone with far more left-leaning, progressive ideas than her. There’s a real progressive movement in this country and many voices who are not represented by the political culture Hillary Clinton was raised in. While it’s way past time for the United States to elect a woman president, it may also be way past time for a change from the type of politics and politicking that Hillary Clinton represents.
Obama ran on a very progressive platform. Unfortunately, in my opinion, he surrounded himself with more centrist and conservative advisers and that, mixed with the rampant racism that allowed politicians to block him at every turn and the reality that his voting record as a senator was more centrist than progressive, resulted in someone who ended up more like Hillary Clinton in the end. But what Obama tapped into during his presidential run is still out there. If anything, it’s grown even stronger and is seeking a voice. Right now, Bernie Sanders is that voice. Hillary can never be that voice. No matter how much she struggles to paint herself as progressive or equally as liberal, she simply isn’t. My personal opinion, she should run on her strengths — of which she has many — for those who share her political leanings. Give them voice. But understand that what the people who vocally support Bernie Sanders right now do not want is Hillary. She is not their voice. This is an important distinction when we’re talking about government reflecting the people.
Instead of diminishing or dismissing the progressive movement in this country by calling it sexist or “unrealistic,” take a moment to understand why it exists. It’s the same movement that got President Obama elected and many of the people I hear calling “foul” now voted for Obama over Hillary back in 2008. And they were not “traitors” or “anti-feminists.” They were people responding to a message and a need that resonated; people who have seen the damage that decades of a particular political culture and environment can do.
Hillary may or may not become president. She’s still considered the frontrunner. But there are many of us who feel that she represents an approach to politics and a mindset that won’t advance this country to the degree we feel it needs and deserves and, most importantly, is actually possible if we start voting our consciences now and send the message to other progressive politicians that we will stand behind them.
It’s true that Bernie Sanders was also raised in the same political climate as Hillary, but he saw himself as an Independent and sculpted a career and reputation fighting and calling out many of the choices and decisions being thrown out there by his Democratic and Republican colleagues. And no, Hillary was not as distinctive in this arena. She fought many fights, no question, and in her youth she seemed more progressive initially than the politician she is today. She has made choices, both in her statements and in her voting record, that distinguish her greatly from Sanders. I said this before and I’ll say it again: if Hillary Clinton represents your politics and the direction you want to see this country go, then you should absolutely be voting for her. And if you believe that Bernie Sanders’ vision for America is either wrong or foolhardy, then articulate and vocalize why. Most of the people I know invite that exchange. I know I do.
Either way, the reality is, the parties are changing. There are different factions of the Republican Party which have split off to create their own nuanced variations, from the Tea Party to Libertarians. The same is happening to the left, to the Democratic Party. Today’s Democratic Party does not resonate with me or my beliefs anymore. Not what the party has become in its shift to the right over the decades. So other variations on liberal needs come to the surface and we start to realize that the two party system no longer represents America. Hillary and Bernie may currently be running under the same Party title, but they are really two different parties within one. And we should all have the right to vote our conscience and do whatever we have within our grasp to be part of the change we want to see. And part of that change for many of us means voting for Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton. At least in the primaries where we are being asked to make that very distinction. Would Bernie supporters be getting this much flack for not supporting Hillary if she and Sanders were actually running under two distinct and separate parties? I would guess not nearly as much. But most of us would still be vocal in pointing out the differences between the two, as we do now between Democrats and Republicans running for office, and why we strongly support one and not the other.
So, if people want to continue to insist that there is little-to-no difference between the two candidates except gender, or that Hillary is either progressive or that the term “establishment” does not apply to her, then I will continue to vocalize and, hopefully, articulate as best I can what I see as the essential and defining differences between the two.