Skip to main content
Foreign Policy Under Hillary Clinton

Hillary and Bernie: But It’s Not What You Expect

I was watching the returns from Iowa. With each batch of data, Bernie was steadily eating into Hillary’s lead. As a Sanders supporter, I should have been ecstatic, but was surprised to note that I was actually ambivalent.

This was odd, because back in September (“Escape the Horserace!”) I had concluded that Sanders “is the only candidate with a chance to win who has a plan for getting us out of the horserace and onto the right track.“ I had sent him money. He comes closest to my own beliefs on a wide range of policy issues, and when he and I disagree, it’s typically because he’s too conservative (as on foreign policy, for example).

My head finally and grudgingly admitted that my heart really wanted Hillary to be the first woman president. Following on the first African American president, you have to admit that it would be sweet.

And yet there I was actually hoping that Hillary would hang on.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

The most common argument in the mainstream press is that supporting Bernie, however much one likes his positions, is foolish because he’s too far out on the left to win in November. Our heads should therefore overrule our hearts: we should support Hillary because she can win. and after all she’s infinitely better than any of the Republicans.

But that isn’t where I was coming from. I had noted that Bernie runs about as well as (sometimes better than) Hillary in national polls against possible GOP nominees. I was pleased to learn that his democratic socialism is considered an asset among Millennials, where his support is overwhelming. I had seen how successful a generation of Republican demonization has been in creating a durable negative image of Hillary (even among many Democrats). A substantial number of Democrats actually use Republican talking points to explain why they don’t support her. I don’t think she’s a bitch, but it’s disheartening how many Democrats and independents do. They’ve bought the Republican line.

My head had come to the conclusion that Bernie has the better program, and that he’s at least as electable as Hillary.

So why was I rooting for Hillary? I spent considerable time on the couch (I’m old. I get to do that) trying to figure it out. My head finally and grudgingly admitted that my heart really wanted Hillary to be the first woman president. Following on the first African American president, you have to admit that it would be sweet. And if not her, then who? And when? Elizabeth Warren is almost the same age as Hillary and has even less experience than Obama had in 2008. There are some talented women senators and governors out there, but none seem like prime presidential material in the way that Hillary is.

But my head demanded that I be reasonable. Not only is she an incrementalist when what we need is a new departure, she also is by no means a certain winner in November. So I will keep supporting Bernie Sanders, following my head, not my heart. But if Hillary Clinton does win the nomination, my heart will rejoice, and I’ll do all I can to elect her. She’s not perfect, but who is?

john peeler

John Peeler