Rarely do I get spurred to write something by a comment by an anonymous commenter, but I will respond to one I got on my last post, in which I questioned whether Hillary Clinton (who is presently leading in the polls) by taking a hawkish position on both Iraq and Iran was in tune with the majority of the voters.
In the post I wrote,
"As a partisan Democrat I will support the nominee no matter who it is,"
to which the commenter responded,
Would you support Newt Gingrich if he switched parties and ran under a Democratic banner? Would you have supported George Wallace because he was a Democrat? Would you support Charles Manson if he ran for office as a Democrat?
Of course not.
But let's limit the discussion to reality here. Newt Gingrich would never get a Democratic nomination because his views are so diametrically opposed to what almost all Democrats stand for. George Wallace (I assume 'anonymous' means the old Wallace, the segregationist) tried to get a nomination and failed, and that was when there were still some Democrats who agreed with segregation in the party. And that was decades ago. Charles Manson? Where did that come from?
Of the candidates who are running for the nomination, Hillary Clinton is probably my last choice, for reasons I described in the last post. However, let me say why I said what I did.
To begin with, look at the obvious. While I discussed the potential opening for a third party candidate her positions could create, history shows us that the next President will in the end almost certainly be a Democrat or a Republican. If I think that Hillary is too hawkish, how would having any of the leading Republicans, all of whom sound just like George W. Bush on Iraq in pledging to remain and fight it out, be better? In fact, it would be worse. Not only has Hillary at least talked about withdrawing some troops from Iraq and been critical at times of the war, but if Congress were to pass a bill like they did this year (and which she voted for) detailing withdrawal plans, she might sign it. She might not either, but I will take 'might' over the certainty that a President Giuliani, Thompson, McCain or Romney would veto it.
There are certainly those who claim that she is a 'Republican lite,' and at times I've agreed with them. But then we've had six years of a real Republican, and look where that has taken us. Besides, many people said the same about Al Gore in 2000, and many progressives either stayed home, did not cast a vote for President, or voted for Ralph Nader. And then it turned out later that Gore in reality was a progressive, but like many politicians he ran to the center in order to get elected. Who knew? Those who had read his first book, 'Earth in the Balance.' And Hillary's earlier books do show a progressive mindset, especially in terms of community and social structures, education and issues affecting women and kids. Her new healthcare proposals, while not as far reaching as the first set she offered in 1993, are certainly an improvement over what we have now. It could be that she could be a pleasant surprise, and certainly in some areas at least she would be.
There are those who would be attracted to an anti-war third party candidacy, as I mentioned in the last post. However, if we assume for the moment that it was a Bloomberg/Hagel ticket, keep in mind that Bloomberg is certainly not a guy who either understands or is likely to support anything that would involve making life easier for ordinary people, and Chuck Hagel, while he has done a fabulous job of speaking out in favor of leaving Iraq, has been a standard issue conservative Republican for most of his career in the Senate.
Further, even if it were a progressive anti-war ticket that ran on a third party platform what we have seen is that unlike in a parliamentary system, where a group of parties form a governing coalition, and a vote for a particular small party may strengthen that party and move the needle of the coalition closer to the positions of that party, in the American two-party system, third parties exert a negative influence, often electing the party that least agrees with them by siphoning votes from the candidate who more closely matches their position. We saw that in the 2000 Presidential race, and in fact a dirty little secret about Democrats' control of the present Senate is that our margin was made possible by a Libertarian candidate in Montana siphoning 10,000 mostly fiscally conservative (and likely Republican) votes in a race that John Tester won by 2000 votes.
Beyond that, I haven't always been such a partisan Democrat as I am today. During the Clinton era, I even flirted with voting for Republicans. However, the excesses of George W. Bush helped me realize why I am a Democrat, and I haven't voted for a Republican in almost a decade. For that matter, when I did vote for Republicans I almost always lived to regret that vote (if you live in Arizona, you will understand what I mean when I tell you that the last Republican I voted for was Calamity Jane-- and believe me, it didn't take long before I regretted it.)
It may be that voting for Hillary Clinton is like settling for Meat Loaf when you wanted a steak. But that's better than a soup line, which is about the equivalent of what the GOP is offering.