ESSAY
Sense and Sensibility: Loving Bernie and Voting Hillary
M.G. Poe

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. 

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. 

So you say you don’t trust Hillary Clinton. You’ve heard that she’s dishonest and deceptive and that the record speaks for itself. She is a politician who lies about everything. Everybody knows it. 

You’re not gonna vote for her; or, maybe you have decided to vote for her, but you still feel this way.

Or, maybe you’re undecided, a Bernie supporter, and now despite his endorsement of her you still intend to vote for one of those other two third partiers, Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Neither of which really has a true chance of winning the election, but you want to show your dissatisfaction with the system by casting a protest vote anyway.

“She’s a corrupt person because of what she did with her e-mails,” Donald Trump taunted recently with his usual blind to his own ‘I’m rubber your glue’ sticks-and-stones agenda. 

57% of us view her “unfavorably,” an all time high statistic for the woman who was once considered the most politically influential First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.

According to the latest Gallup Polls from July 16, 2016, 67% of Americans do not trust Hillary Clinton. And if that weren’t vague enough for you, 57% of us view her “unfavorably,” an all time high statistic for the woman who was once considered the most politically influential First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt. 

It’s important to understand, that with statistical data, pollsters ask leading questions, taken out of context and isolated, in order to generate a desired answer. Poll questions are myopic by nature, narrowly centered to provide an immediate single-focus answer. They lose depth of meaning in the constructive whole of nearly any situation. 

Another poll, from November 2015, by Pew Research Center, reported that only 19% of Americans thought politicians put the public’s interest ahead of their own. That’s dramatically down from the same poll taken in 1958, which reported 77% of people trusted politicians to put self-interests aside for the common good of the people and the country. Seventy-seven percent! Imagine living in a world where the majority of citizens actually trusted politicians? The point is, when broadened to reflect a more universal belief, one could conclude that “the polls” more practically indicate that it isn’t just Mrs. Clinton the public distrusts nowadays, its politicians in general. 

Opponents and proponents alike have called Mrs. Clinton calculating, methodical, manipulative, unflappable under pressure, and guarded. And, though at first these adjectives seem formidable and harsh, and haven’t won her any popularity contests, they are not necessarily undesirable qualities in a world leader. Quite the contrary, actually. These qualities are qualities of a strong, courageous, protective, decisive President. If she were a man these qualities would not be an issue. Based on her three decades plus in politics and experience in public life, Presidents Barrack Obama, and Bill Clinton both called her the most qualified candidate ever for the job of President, and Bernie Sanders, in his endorsement, said she is one of the most intelligent people he has ever known. 

Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings. 

Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings. 

She is to date the most investigated candidate ever to run for the Oval Office; her two most recent scandals were 1) the possible culpability in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, and 2) the use of her private e-mail server to send and receive information considered classified by the US State Department. In both cases she was exonerated of any wrong-doing by The Senate Intelligence Committee, The House Select Committee on Benghazi (which concluded that former Secretary Clinton was not responsible for the attacks) the State Department, the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (though they characterized her as “careless,” FBI Director James Commey reported that there was no evidence that the e-mails in question were “intentionally deleted”).

Perhaps her bigger crime, has been one of technological naiveté combined with vanity, privilege, and a reluctance to play scapegoat and apologize to a public that’s hungry for any politician to take blame for the discontent that we all feel unfairly characterizes our current system. 

Some revile her for being an “establishment politician” continuing to be part of the same ideology, (despite her adroit shift-to-the-left thanks to Bernie’s persistent haranguing influence) whose primary system of electors Senator Sanders called “rigged” (in political terms meaning “fixed so that the winner is predetermined”), and part of the establishment that is anathema to Bernie’s progressive platform, an establishment whose policies and greed Sanders said were “destroying the middle class” and against which, we the people, must start a revolution. 

Sadly, in others, the distrust comes from unconscious gender biases still prevalent in our society, the unmindful misogyny found in men and women that runs in a steady trickle through our culture and comes out at the most unexpected times towards females and their so-called place in this society. Archaically, people don’t trust her simply because, like Eve, the still prevalent, illogical sentiment is that women are treacherous, and cannot be trusted. Clinton is a strongly independent, sometimes sharp-spoken woman, not the best ‘showman,’ auditioning for a man’s job, and to her credit, still thriving in the traditionally white-man dominated game of politics. It is her ambition, which some say is greater and always has been greater than that of her husband’s, that makes her appear self-interested and too aggressive for a—woman. Perhaps it’s all of these things combined. 

Whatever it is, not one of these things makes her an inefficient, incapable, untrustworthy leader when it comes to running the country. Additionally, her track record, her successful work with families, healthcare, and children’s issues, precedes her, while her policies on taxes, the economy, human rights, education, foreign affairs, including immigration reform and national security, unlike that of her Republican opponent’s, are clearly and practically delineated on her website. There is no deception when it comes to the political issues.

So why do the majority of the American people distrust her? Is it distrust in Mrs. Clinton’s ability to follow through on policy issues and campaign promises? Do we doubt her proven abilities as a world leader, her strength as a foreign policy executor, her ability to work well in a bipartisan manner with Congress, or her platform on domestic issues, some of which she has already shown she can implement? Or does the distrust come from a suspicious thread of something else that runs much deeper and hits an emotional nerve based on our own personal disappointments with a system of which Mrs. Clinton, like the rest of the politicians making up our two-party system, is a part? In an environment where only 19% of the population trust politicians, are we not putting emotional baggage of our own on Mrs. Clinton, thus judging her unfairly? 

Recently, I got a text from Jess, one of those social media Hillary campaign volunteers involved in sending out enthusiastic texts to supporters about the progress of the campaign. Jess’s text went like this: Hey, Jess here—if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have Hillary as a friend, you should ask Janelle. Watch her story: Followed by a live link to Janelle’s story.  

I was compelled to respond to Jess, with this: Hey Jess. No need for me to wonder. She’s my candidate, not my friend, and that’s just fine with me. Her stance on issues, her track record as an innovative policy maker, her work to advance human rights issues and the concerns of women and children is good enough for me. If more people viewed it this way, and took the emotional component out of it, she’d win the election hands down. I know I’m in the minority opinion here, but that’s what y’all should be reminding the public. I don’t need her to be my friend. I just need her to get things done so we can all have a better quality of life. 

Jess’s text and my response to it made me realize that I do trust her to toe the line of political convention and follow through to the best of her abilities on her policy agenda.

If asked the question by a pollster: Do you trust Hillary Clinton, my immediate answer might also have been no, but Jess’s text and my response to it made me realize that I do trust her to toe the line of political convention and follow through to the best of her abilities on her policy agenda. It does not matter whether her interests are self-motivated or altruistic as long as we, the people, see the kind of changes her election promises. Further, those strong character traits just mentioned make her solid, assertive, strong-minded, a leader the world already respects. Most importantly, as a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I trust her enough to push the agenda of Bernie Sanders, if only because she’s agreed to do it, and she needs his supporters. It’s politics after all, not a warm and fuzzy tête-à-tête with my BFF.

And this is where many of us listening to the Republican Party and mainstream media continuing to demonize her fail to make the distinction. It is also where the Donald Trump campaign obfuscates the issues. The Donald Trump platform relies on the emotional appeal of outbursts and the outlandish promises of its candidate to draw recognition and support. It doesn’t rely on a logical well-thought-out plan of government for the growth of the country. Like a schoolyard bully Donald Trump attaches adjectives to peoples names. Phrases like “crooked Hillary,” and “lock her up” spew from his mouth like a volley of spitballs thunking against the walls of a middle school classroom. What is most surprising is that the public continues to listens to this, enjoying the interplay, filling in detail where there aren’t any and repeating them like rumors running through a high school locker room. Kristen Welker said it perfectly on the Sunday, September 4, 2016 episode of Meet the Press: “To some extent the problem for Secretary Clinton is not the content of the stories anymore. It’s the fact that they keep breaking.” 

When it comes to politics I have long been a political atheist. Doubting both the process and the system. Which is why for a short time this last year I surprised myself by enthusiastically engaging in the Political Revolution of Bernie Sanders. I contributed to his political campaign, the first politician to whom I ever gave money, carrying my Bernie Schlepp Bag canvas tote proudly around town like some display their Ichthys fish license plates on their car. 

Bernie energized a generation of young supporters and resurrected the hopes of many others, like me, who were in permanent political limbo. He came closer to the nomination than any second-place finisher since 1972, single-handedly changing the trajectory of the Democratic Party. Winning twenty-two primaries and caucuses, he kept pace with Hillary Clinton, the candidate of the party establishment, raising money through private contributions averaging only $9 to $27. So powerful is his movement that he refused to capitulate and endorse Clinton until she conceded and veered her own platform to left, including modifying her stance on The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), embracing a $15 minimum wage, free tuition at state colleges and universities for families that earn less than $125,000 per year, a Social Security expansion, and reviews on bank regulations.

But Bernie also knew he couldn’t win. So, following the electoral process he endorsed Hillary Clinton. He knew that the only way to change the system, without violence, was to work within that system and foment change from within. He recognized that his best path for continuation of his Progressive Agenda was to work with Hillary Clinton, and, in his own words, “do everything possible to defeat Donald Trump.”

“We’ve produced by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party,” Bernie declared at a press conference in July 2016 with Hillary Clinton at his side. “Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratically Controlled Senate, a Democratically controlled House, and a Hillary Clinton Presidency. I intend to be in every corner of this country to make certain that happens.”

So, to those die-hard Berniecrats, many of you people I know and love: Snap out of it! Bernie didn’t ‘double-cross’ you by ‘selling out.’ Bernie wanted us to unite in order to advance the progressive agenda.

Secondly, to all those who get that little bit of satisfaction from allowing the lush smell of fresh media-driven fodder and its yellowish ooze to fill your senses, go ahead and enjoy it in the moment, but remember: as much as we’d like to think two-dimensional television compares to life, this election is not a TGIT episode of Scandal with Hillary Clinton as Mellie Grant. 

If you review Hillary Clinton’s political platform rationally and unemotionally, with sense not sensibility, ignoring popular media’s rumor mill and the adolescent antics of the bully from military school representing the Republican party, you will clearly see the Progressive Agenda of Bernie Sanders alive, well, and currently spreading root; the vessel for its vibrant continuation: Hillary Clinton, Democratic nominee for the President of the United States, first woman from a major political party to win that nomination in the history of the USA. She is endorsed by Bernie Sanders, and she is a maverick. 

If you believe in the progressive agenda, and you want it to thrive, choosing to vote for anybody other than Hillary is losing sight of the bigger issues. 

We are stronger together. 

Given the chance, I trust her to prove that.


MG POE