Democrats’ Dilemmas

These days it’s easier to be a registered Republican than a registered Democrat.  If you’re a Republican you know that whichever candidate you support, in the end you’ll get a nominee who will cut taxes for the rich and try to cut spending on Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid and education.  Your party’s favorite will also deny climate change and allow fossil fuels to burn freely, take a harsh stand on undocumented immigrants and possibly try to deport millions of them, and be nestled comfortably and very deep in the pocket of the NRA.   You’re choosing a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, where the elderly and the young are denied basic rights, where equal pay for women and paid family leave are a distant dream, where black lives still don’t matter, and where extreme heat and cold, drought and flooding, mudslides and beach erosion are even more common than they are now.  It’s not a pretty sight, but it’s the common vision of the Republican candidates.  The only area where they differ somewhat is the amount of military force they would use abroad.  Rand Paul is the most moderate in that respect, but his campaign is fledging and he’ll probably drop out of the race before the Holidays.

Precisely because there is so much at stake Democrats are facing numerous dilemmas.  With a House of Representatives  that will be controlled by the GOP until the courts put an end to gerrymandering and restore representative democracy in the states, and a Senate that may or may not change hands in 2016, holding on to the White House is imperative.  Even if the Democrats would win back the Senate, the combination of a Republican House and White House would be fatal for all citizens except for maybe the top 10%.  So Democrats have to make their choice based on which one of their candidates has the best chance of becoming President, and that may not always be the candidate they like the most.  Bernie Sanders’s populist anti-Wall Street agenda is very appealing to the left wing of the party and many new young voters, but for some reason not to African-Americans, whose vote any Democrat will need to move to Pennsylvania Avenue.    Hillary Clinton holds a significant lead in the polls among Democratic voters, but her unfavorables are so high that she could be beaten by some of the GOP candidates, and Joe Biden can probably not catch up, but in the general election he would beat them all.

So what is a lefty Democrat like me to do?  First, hope that Biden decides not to run and calls it a career.  His candidacy would unnecessarily further split the Democratic vote and not bring much to the table that is not already there.  Second, realize that for most Americans socialism is still a dirty word, and that Bernie Sanders’s call for a revolution will not generate a majority, especially if the blacks continue to reject him.   Third, hope and pray that Hillary comes out of next week’s Benghazi hearing victoriously.

By and large I agree with Bernie Sanders a lot more than with Hillary, who is still too close to Wall Street in domestic policies and too hawkish in foreign policy for my liking.  On a different level, I would much rather have a beer with Joe Biden than a vodka martini with Hillary, but if it helps save the planet and restore and expand what used to be called the welfare state I would even have a dirty martini with her.

To make an inapt comparison, in my home country, the Netherlands, I have an annual bet for 50 euros on the World Series, and my money is always on the American League team.  I like the Mets and the Cubs much better than the Royals and the Blue Jays, but just like in the elections there is nothing I can do about it.

Hugo Kijne


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