I rarely have trouble determining who to vote for, but deciding between Clinton and Sanders in the New York primary has not been easy for me. For a long time, I supported Clinton. I thought Sanders was helping the cause of the left by moving her to the left, but that he could not accomplish his goals with a Republican House. I thought she was smart, generally Progressive, more qualified, more likely to get things done, unfairly vilified, and I believed it was past time that a woman be elected President of the United States.
I still think all of that, but I am voting for Sanders. The easy reason is that Clinton will win New York, and votes for Sanders will send a message that the heart of the party is and should be moving to the left. But there is more. At the moment, the polls show that either of them would beat Donald Trump, but Sanders does better against all of the Republican candidates. Clinton has been unfairly vilified, but she is widely regarded as untrustworthy. I do not think Sanders is as authentic as his image, and I doubt he is a warm and cuddly nice guy. But he is less calculating than Clinton.
I admired his willingness to support Israel while attacking its failure in important contexts to respect the rights of Palestinians. Clinton’s reaction sounded as if it was scripted by right wing Israelis and designed to retain AIPAC dollars. Clinton’s position on fracking shows that she is tone deaf to environmental needs or responsive to campaign contributors. And Clinton is a hawk on foreign policy.
Sanders views are my views; he has the best chance of winning in the general election; and I am grateful for his political courage. Nonetheless, his failure to get the nomination (which seems likely to me) may be a good thing for those of us who support his views. It seems clear that he would not run for a second term (he would be 78 – it would be awfully helpful to know who his Vice President would be). If he were elected, he could not possibly achieve his major goals and millions of people would be dissilutioned. There is a case to be made for the view that a person of Sanders’ views should be elected only when the House and the Senate are controlled by Democrats. Better to have a person on the left when much can be achieved. On the other hand, electable presidential candidate on the left are a rare commodity. And it is possible that Sanders would do a better job than Clinton of using the Presidency as a bully pulpit to create a political revolution against the Republican House.
Sanders is right. The system is corrupt. It was corrupt before Citizens United. Corruption triggers a backlash. His candidacy is a product of that backlash, and the forces that have made him a popular candidate will not go away.