Election Decisions

userpic=political-buttonsA post yesterday by a friend picking apart Hilary’s logo made me realize that I need to start thinking about the upcoming June primary in California, at least at the Presidential level.

It probably comes as no surprise that I’m on the Democratic side: I cannot stomach either Trump or Cruz. Kasinich is much more moderate, but (a) will not get the nomination without splitting the GOP, and thus dooming the GOP, (b) still has positions — such as his abortion stance and his opposition to the Affordable Care Act — that I cannot stomach.  The Republicans are pretty much screwed at the Presidental level: the moderates hate Trump and view Cruz, at best, as a toilet plunger — something you use to get the turd out of the way.  If Trump is denied the nomination, the party will split; if Trump wins the nomination, the party is doomed.

So it really comes down to Sanders vs. Clinton, and the most important thing is that *either* of them get elected. Each has their faults, but either of them is better than the GOP alternatives. But how to decide? I have some irrational fears that I have to sort through: I’m worried about Sanders being Jewish, and his election creating antisemitism, about Sander’s past involvement with socialism, and about Sander’s age. On the Clinton side, I’m worried that she brings far too much baggage that the GOP hates, making compromise difficult. I worry that her positions are perhaps too politically calculated, and perhaps don’t go far enough for my liberalism. I worry about her ties to the 1%, although (again) it is much better than any Republican. These are not necessarily rational worries. So let’s set them aside for now.

I looked at some comparison sites, and the two have very similar view.

Inside-Gov Comparison. Looking at Inside-Gov’s comparison, I note that Sanders has a definite lack of foreign policy experience, but has significantly more legislative experience. Foreign policy experiences is increasingly important, but foreign policy positions are equally significant. Legislative experience could indicate an ability to work with Congress as opposed to butting head with Congress. Then again, they need to be able to propose ideas that will actually get through Congress. This is where Hilary is stronger: her ideas, being more moderate, are likely to get more cross party support (if that can be done at all these days). That’s harder with some of Bernie’s more radical proposals.

Sanders does not have a legal background, and only has a BS. Clinton is clearly smart and has the legal background, with both a BS and a JD degree.

Most of their scores are similar except in the area of defense. Defense is of interest to me. I think most people think defense spending is just building bombs and funding troops, but it really is a massive jobs program. The funds go to defense contracts, who put people to work with well paying jobs. Much of the middle class comes from these workers. Me included. I support an FFRDC that supports the USAF on the acquisition of space systems and space cybersecurity. I’m personally concerned on how the candidate wants to work in space and expand our cybersecurity protections.  Here, all I can see is that Clinton is more conservative.

Mother Jones. The Mother Jones comparison (written before primaries started) highlights something interesting:

The contrasts between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are largely differences of degree. He’s a self-proclaimed socialist; she fashions herself a “progressive that likes to get things done.” He hopes to bust up the biggest banks and offer free tuition at public colleges and universities; she wants to tamp down on risky Wall Street behavior and require students to work part-time in order to attend college without building up debt.

But these discrepancies would likely disappear if either Democratic candidate wins the presidency and attempts to push these bills through a Republican Congress that considers all of the proposals too far left for its liking.

The real difference between Sanders and Clinton might come down less to the what of their policies than to the how of implementing them. When Sanders unveils a new policy as part of his presidential campaign, he tends to pair it with legislation he introduces in the Senate. Judging from his campaign, a President Sanders would spend much of his time trying to convince Congress to pass massive legislative overhauls.

Clinton, on the other hand, often pairs ideas for legislation with promises of executive action in her policy fact sheets. When she rolls out a new policy proposal, the most details are usually in descriptions of the unilateral actions she would take through the power of the executive branch.

This could directly translate into how effective they end up being if the Democrats don’t regain Congress.

Continued Comparisons. I continued to read the comparison sites, but often they are partisan, cherry picking the issues. Some Sanders supporters have a visceral reaction to Clinton, just not trusting her. But in general, I see their proposals as pretty similar.

Drawing a Conclusion. At this point, I can’t really decide between the two. I think, in terms of governing ability, that Clinton will be stronger. She’ll have more moderate ideas, and be able to work better on getting them through Congress. She’ll have more experience with foreign policy and diplomacy. Sanders may have better ideas than Clinton in a number of areas, but having better ideas doesn’t necessarily get them through Congress and enacted (despite what your followers want). I’m unsure if he would end up being more effective. He has some naive assumptions in the foreign policy area — much as he believes one can talk through any problem, that doesn’t work in all cultures.

I think, alas, this campaign is going to boil down not to the question of who is the best candidate, but who is good enough. I think aiming for the best in terms of policy may have the result of hurting the electibility or the likelihood of getting that policy implemented. Good enough means electing someone with known imperfections, but someone with policy that are more likely to move us incrementally in the right direction, and that can get through Congress.

I truly would like to say Hilary can do that … and she could … if only she wasn’t a Clinton. The hatred on the many sides of that family could doom her ability to govern. That’s why I supported Obama in 2008 — because I felt we needed to break the cycle of Clinton and Bush. Would we be starting that up again with Hilary and the Hilary haters.

And so I keep oscillating between the two, like one of those perpetual clacking ball toys.