Friday, April 15, 2016

What Am I Afraid Of?

I've been insisting that this primary vote, for me, is not just a matter of deciding whose values align with mine (that would be Sanders) but rather a process of contemplating different possible consequences of a Clinton or Sanders presidency. A good friend asked me what I'm afraid of with a Sanders presidency, which is a good question and here's my answer:

This is what I’m afraid of:

He’s unable to pass any of his legislative priorities in Congress because of GOP opposition, which will be fierce. I guess it’s possible he learns how to compromise and he gets some laws passed, but that would infuriate his diehard supporters to whom he promised no compromise.

So either because of anger over a diluted agenda, or disillusionment because nothing gets done, he loses his core of support which, to my eyes, is based on the idea that we elect him and he’ll ride into Washington on a white horse and make everything good again.

Having lost faith in the very idea that voting can change anything, his former supporters don’t vote in 2018, and the GOP lockhold on Congress is further entrenched. And they stay home in 2020 because they no longer believe that electing a “progressive” president can break up the banks, ban fracking and Monsanto, overturn Citizens United, make peace in the Middle East, send Wall Street into a giant sinkhole, and deport the Koch Brothers, McDonalds, and Walmart. The left in general loses support, loses steam.

And we end up with Cruz or someone similarly grotesque as president in 2020, all 3 branches of the federal government are controlled by theocrats and every small gain liberals have made in the last century or two are rolled back one by one, and on and on till the day I die.

That’s pretty much what I’m afraid of.

Of course all the above puts aside the question of who has a better chance of defeating a Republican. People have strong opinions on both sides. I happen to think Clinton has a much better chance, but it's really all guesswork at this point.


LM Smith said...

It is very possible that Clinton will deliver on some aspects of the "progressive agenda. This is what I'm hoping for.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Steven. Your fears are very close to mine. I remember at one point that we talked about the Sanders campaign use of the word 'revolution', and found it wanting. thinking back to that, I do think that supporting Sanders and 'revolution' have some risk involved. I really can't say anything useful about the type of person who is willing to risk (and I do think that the risks you outlined are real) and those who are risk averse. That is, I see no common experience or identity that seems to put someone in one camp or the other. I don't remember if I have said as much on FB, but I plan on accepting the risk and voting for Sanders. I am not without awareness of the fact that this risk has a degree of selfishness about it. But I am also aware that there will be big losses for certain people no matter who becomes President. I do think that there are mitigating hopes; the Democrats are much better as an opposition party, imho. Didn't Bush lose his majorities after two years?

Steven said...

That's a really smart way to look at it -- risk-willing or risk-averse. I've been trying so hard to formulate a way to talk about that divide, which is really only indirectly related to the actual views and positions of the candidates. I've been so annoyed at being, I think unfairly, pegged as a Clinton-loving neoliberal (or, worse, blind or deluded or ignorant) because I'm leery of Sanders. I don't see this as a choice between good and evil, but more like an agonizing decision with huge stakes. So thank you for giving me some clarity.