April 15, 2016

It's Not About Qualifications, It's About Judgement

This dust-up about Sanders and Clinton barking back at each other over the issue of who's qualified is a media-derived controversy.  I know how it started and I don't really care about it or who said what. They're both eminently qualified to run for president and hold the office.  But the real question is - who's judgement do you trust?  And of course, I trust Bernie Sanders' judgement much, much more than Hillary Clinton's.  But let's take a deeper dive into that, because it's not good enough to just make the broad assertion.  It should be backed up with facts, cases, evidence, incidents, and whatever it takes to make such an assertion.  I am prepared to do that - "..it's what I live for..."...

Hawkish Foreign Policy

I've heard the Hillary apologists say they're so sick of hearing about her vote on the war in Iraq back in 2003.  Yeah, so am I.  But ya know - it was a big, big decision, and it not only caused a "Yuuuuge" problem, but it set the stage for making the Middle East even more conflict-ridden than it already was.  Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders were both in Congress at the time (Bernie was in the House of Representatives while Hillary was in the Senate), and they both heard the same evidence as presented by the Cheney Administration.  While Hillary followed the 'Establishment' line and voted in favor of the use of force, Bernie voted against giving George Bush a green light to forge more conflict.

To her credit, Hillary has admitted that vote was wrong and apologized for the error in judgement.  But, that's exactly what it was - an error in judgement as she towed the establishment line.  The real question is - did she learn from that event?  Some would argue that the answer to that question is 'No', as her proclivity for hawkish foreign policy has persisted for years thereafter, manifesting in her posturing for regime change in Libya, Sirya, and Honduras.

Yes, Hillary has gotten around the globe quite a bit, both as First Lady and Secretary of State.  She has probably met every head of state and knows them all by first name.  But when it comes to choosing whose judgement I trust in the Oval, it's not even close.

Trade Policy

Bernie Sanders has been out in front as opposition to all of the so-called "Free Trade" agreements which have largely been to blame for the loss of jobs in our country.  Hillary referred to the TPP as ".. the gold standard..."  of trade deals, until she finally came out against it having battled with Sanders in the Primaries.  Translation - Hillary towed the 'Establishment' line until she was up against Bernie's Progressive position, and then she took Bernie's position.

Economic Policy

This topic is broad, but I'll focus on just one element - Minimum Wage.  While Bernie has been fighting for a $15 minimum wage, Hillary has been fighting for just a $12 minimum wage.  However, when both New York and California came out with their $15 minimum wage laws, Hillary stood right there an owned it.

Social Issues

Again, a multitude of issues which can be addressed, but for the sake of brevity, just one - Gay Marriage.  Until 2013, Hillary Clinton was against Gay Marriage and supported both DOMA and Don't Ask / Don't Tell.  She's on record sounding just like a Republican saying that she believed marriage was between ONE Man and ONE Woman.  But just like Barack Obama, and to her credit, she evolved.  Why did she change her position?  You got it - she was towing the 'establishment' line by being against gay marriage, until the country (and the 'establishment') evolved.

Bernie Sanders has ALWAYS fought for gay rights.  Period.


Issue - Keystone XL Pipeline.  It was only recently that Hillary Clinton came out against this.  Why?  Could it be she was towing the 'Establishment' line until she was forced to adopt Bernie's Progressive position?

Issue - Fracking.  Hillary: For, Bernie: Against.

Health Care

Hillary tried and failed to reform Health Care back in the 90's under her husband's presidency.  Now that Barack Obama has shepherded in reform (The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare"), she is only on board with enhancing it incrementally rather than reforming the reform with a Single-Payer ("Medicare-For-All") Health Care plan.  She criticized his plan as unrealistic, but the truth is - Hillary's Health Care reforms are just as unrealistic as long as Republicans have ANY power in Washington.  In the process, she (and her surrogates - read "Chelsea") have been playing the fear card by saying that Sanders' plan will take away people's existing health coverage.

Campaign Finance

I saved the best for last because this is the biggest reason I trust Bernie Sanders' judgement so much more than Hillary Clinton's.  I'm sure by now you've heard eons about Hillary's 6-figure speeches to Goldman Sachs, and her Super PACs which have taken in tens of millions of dollars.  And I'm sure you've heard about Bernie's ump-teen millions of contributors, the average donation being $27.  Being the political junkie that I am, even I'm tired of hearing it from both candidates.  But, just because I'm tired of hearing it, doesn't make it any less important.

In all my years of following politics, the phrase I've found as the most consequential is this - "Follow the money".  It will tell you all you need to know.  It will explain with clarity and distinction exactly why politicians vote, say, and do what they do.  With only a few, rare exceptions, and especially given the corrosiveness of our Democracy from "Citizens United" and its predecessors, just about every politician in Washington is corrupted by what is essentially legalized bribery.  Hillary Clinton is not one of those exceptions.  Neither is Barack Obama.  Bernie Sanders is.

Hillary can claim .. ".. I went to Wall Street and told them to cut it out...", but I'm not buying that.


I've only scratched the surface here as there are hundreds of issues that separate these two candidates for the Democratic nomination.  In conclusion I want to paraphrase Jimmy Dore from "The Young Turks" as he was wrapping up analysis following the last Democratic Debate.  I apologize I can't quote his words exactly because it was in video and I'm recalling it from memory, but his point was great.  Some years ago, the elections came down to a Republican who was in the pocket of big business and hawkish on foreign policy as a tool of the Military-Industrial-Complex, versus a Democrat who was a supporter of worker's rights, dove-ish on foreign policy, and a check on business' overreach.  However, in this primary, those same attributes define a Democrat versus an Independent.


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