While Donald Trump may be an important issue in the 2016 American election cycle (or at least unless Ted Cruz has anything to say about that), and the prospect of him becoming President is a gloomy and fearful one, he’s not actually the most important part of this election cycle. There’s something more crucial to the 2016 cycle than Donald Trump’s rise to political power, despite whatever the media might have you thinking on the matter. To me, the most important aspect of this cycle is the question of who will become the Democratic nominee? You may ask, why is that more important than the Republican party tearing itself apart? Because whichever of them wins, he or she is one of the most likely to enter the White House at the end of it, and a bat-shit crazy Republican party may not entirely be a problem, at least depending on who’s running against and on if most of the voting public are apathetic enough towards them. But more importantly, they each present a different prospects for America. Here’s how I see it, in short:
Will we vote for a candidate who will preserve the status quo, or for a candidate who has the courage to change it? To me, Hillary Clinton is the former and Bernie Sanders is the latter. But then, for a number of people that’s obvious.
I actually have a pre-existing beef with Clinton. Back in 2013 I wrote a post on this blog about I why I hate her, and it was a pretty brash post at the time. At the time, I hated her because I saw her as an authoritarian who favors stability over freedom, hates video games, and clearly had something to hide in those diplomatic cable leaks. I don’t think my disposition regarding her has changed much, I only have more reasons to dislike her. Clinton to me is a symbol of the American political establishment, and is about as transparent.
She voted for the Iraq War, though she would later renounce that vote. She voted for the Patriot Act when it was new. She openly admitted that national security is more important than human rights, which must have been exactly what the Bush administration thought too. She’s currently backed by Wall Street. She, along with Barack Obama, pushed for “free trade” agreements with Panama that allowed for the tax havens for the rich to hide money in, which are now much talked about in the news. She also lauded the Panama agreement when it was signed in 2011 by Obama. Her answer to the Apple encryption controversy has often been elusive, escaping into pointless ambiguity to the point of being deliberately obscured, but she has stated that it may be possible to find a way of granting exclusive government access for encryption if “we gather the smartest scientists together and give them billions of dollars and a sense of urgency” – which is both childishly stupid and ignorant of experts warnings about the idea of creating a “master key”. She praised Nancy Reagan and her husband for advocating awareness of AIDS and HIV in the 1980’s, even though the Reagan White House was entirely silent on the matter until 1985. She denounced Edward Snowden as a traitor who should face trial not simply for revealing the NSA’s mass surveillance, but also for not going through the “proper channels” for whistle-blowers and in order to receive protection by the government – but as some in the media have noted, such protections and proper channels do not exist, nor do they apply to Snowden. You’d think this means she supports the NSA, but her position has been evasive – she says the NSA needs to be more transparent and to act lawfully, but the problem is that it wasn’t and hasn’t, and she has refused to offer a clear solution. As a Senator, she voted to enable the mass surveillance of the NSA, but after the mass surveillance was revealed didn’t want to present any solution to the problem. And I’ll tell you what, it’s not a good sign of character when Clinton responds to the email scandal with something along the lines of “shut up” or “you can’t prove I’m wrong”.
So overall, a vote for Clinton might as well just be a vote for America to stay the course. It’ll be like another Obama administration, and the prospect of the political reform America currently needs will be held back. Also, judging by her current approval rating (see below), I can’t be the only one who thinks of her as very shallow and very fake. Even if she’s probably more trustworthy than Donald Trump, that’s only in the sense that literally anyone is more trustworthy than Donald Trump right now! To me she’s just a women who’s detached from the modern world who’s also platforming on outdated gender and identity politics, riding on the ticket of being the first woman president – Obama already rode a ticket of being the first black president, and that didn’t turn out to mean much.
Also, there’s something I really hate about how the mainstream media always seems to paint the 2016 cycle as ultimately coming down to just Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. Why? What about Bernie Sanders? Surely he still has a chance, probably a better chance against Trump than Clinton might if Trump becomes the Republican nominee. It’s funny too, I tend to think Trump is more threatened by Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton, partly because of Sanders’ qualities as a candidate (which I’ll get to) and the fact that Trump always tries to blame Sanders for the
Now, my thoughts on Bernie Sanders. I have to be honest, there was a time where I actually disliked the idea of supporting Sanders, and I must admit that it had a large part to do his association with “socialism”, along with my lack of desire to support socialism at least at the time. It’s worth remembering, this guy had a reputation as a socialist before the 2016 cycle. He was a Senator and Mayor in the state of Vermont, and I first heard of him through Capitalism: A Love Story, and his complaint in the film about business men being on the covers of magazines instead of firefighters seemed laughable to me for some reason. Not to mention, that plan he had back in 2011 to make sure people could only buy American-made trinkets at a Smithsonian museum because he thought it was wrong that you couldn’t buy little statues of the founding fathers that happened to be made in China. Eventually though, I kind of warmed up to him, and now I see him as, though not perfect, someone who may yet bring significant reform to the American political establishment and clearly the only one with the courage or will for such reform.
Not only that, but I’ve been made aware of signs that he always had some mind for such things. Back in the 1960’s, Sanders took part in civil rights demonstrations to fight for right of African-Americans share the same space in campus dorms with white Americans, and he was even arrested during those demonstrations. What about Hillary Clinton at the time? She supported the Republican party; specifically, she supported the 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater – a man remembered for his opposition to civil rights changes (though to be fair on Clinton, she decided to support to the Democratic Party four years later). Anyways, in later years Sanders seems to have continued to find himself speaking against the American political establishment of the time. When America was supporting the Contras in Nicaragua under the Reagan administration, as well as imposing an economic embargo on the country, Sanders opposed these actions, as is stated in letters to Jimmy Carter and the mayor of Managua. He would also later vote against the Iraq War, which, as I already pointed out, Hillary Clinton voted for. Oh, and those free trade agreements with Panama that Clinton and Obama pushed for? Sanders spoke out against that too. He is also an opponent of the fiasco known as the war on the drugs – Clinton, meanwhile, seems to have made statements supporting medical marijuana and better treatment of non-violent drug users, while simultaneously she praised her husband’s Plan Colombia, which only increased militarization in the area leading to violent deaths, human rights abuses, and ultimately no victory against drug trafficking. He’s also a bit different to the Democrats his views on gun control: while he supports banning assault weapons, he still thinks owning other firearms is a right and thinks people should be able to buy guns under certain regulations – advocating stricter gun control is generally a norm among the Democrats and their supporters.
As I implied earlier, though, Sanders isn’t perfect. He doesn’t talk much on immigration, though there were a few times when he promised to create a pathway to citizenship (which is nice and all except that he apparently voted against an immigration reform bill back in 2007, although it’s possible he did it because it was amended), but I’m not sure immigration is his biggest concern – which is unfortunate because it is my biggest concern as someone who is still interested in someday living in the United States. The fact that his positions on immigration are eerily similar to Clinton’s is also a concern of mine. That, and his agenda is largely about bringing “economic justice”, and I’m not sure how I take to the rhetoric of such a thing. Still, I am of the persuasion that Sanders will prove capable of at least providing a spark of change in the political establishment and overturning some of the things that seem unsavory about the country, and he seems like a guy who hasn’t changed much where it really counts. All of which is more than can be said for Clinton.