To My Friends Who Support Hillary Clinton

According to the latest polls out of New Hampshire, Sanders is currently leading among all Democratic women voters there, and not just among women millennial voters. In Iowa, Clinton beat Sanders among women by 11 points; now she is losing to him in New Hampshire among women by 8 points. I thought this young woman quoted in The Washington Post, who’ll be voting for the first time in this election, explained well why women more generally are turning to Sanders:

While many older women’s rights advocates see the election of Clinton as the next logical step in a broader movement, some younger activists have expressed resentment at the notion that they should feel obligated to vote for Clinton simply because she’s a woman. Some have argued in recent months that Sanders, with his calls to end income inequality and make college free, is arguably the more feminist candidate.

“Hillary doesn’t seem to address those huge issues,” said Alexis Isabel Moncada, whose @feministculture Twitter account launched in April and boasts 170,000 followers.

Moncada, who is 17 but will be old enough to vote in November, said Clinton’s personal wealth and her life as a former first lady and secretary of state create a “disconnect with the entirety of women.”

The entirey of women. Nice phrase. A candidate who began this campaign with the media and his critics claiming women would never support him is now winning that support. Because…the entirety of women.

Which leads to my open letter…

To my friends who support Hillary Clinton:

If your position is that Clinton is the most qualified candidate to be president of the US, I respect that.

If your position is that electing a woman with some liberal bona fides is too important a milestone to pass up, I respect that, too.

If your position is that you are a moderate liberal, who does not like or is worried about the direction Bernie Sanders will take the Democratic Party and the nation, I respect that as well.

But if your position is that Clinton understands the political landscape better than Sanders, that only Clinton knows how to wield and work the levers of power in the world as it is, that only Clinton can wield and work those levers on your behalf or on behalf of the values you care about, I ask that you take a moment to reconsider.

I ask that you suspend judgment for a few weeks or months, to see whether that landscape—not just in the Democratic Party but in the nation as a whole—may be changing, to be open to the possibility that political assumptions forged a half-century ago, in the 1972 election of Richard Nixon over George McGovern, and reinforced by centrist victories a quarter-century ago, may no longer hold true today. I ask that you be open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the world is changing, if only a little bit. And that unless you are ideologically indisposed to that change—or committed to Clinton on other grounds (see above)—you allow yourself the possibility that the changes you are seeing right before your eyes are in fact real, that what was true in 1972 or 1992 may not be true in 2016, and that you let 2016 be 2016.

In solidarity,

Corey

35 Comments

  1. ronp February 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm | #

    I like both candidates, but support Hilary for the first two reasons you list.

    Wish we had a slightly younger Bernie though. I guess I would be a super duper Elizabeth Warren fan if she were running!

  2. Will Shetterly February 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm | #

    Among the important differences between 1972 and 2016: Then, the Democrats were in disarray; now, the Republicans are.

  3. rick February 8, 2016 at 3:25 pm | #

    Well, you are confirming my worst fears, Corey. We shall learn more in the weeks ahead. I am not wholly there with Hilary. I am not wholly there with Bernie. (That socialist label is an albatross around his neck.)

    • Kresling April 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm | #

      The idea that the ‘socialist label is an albatross’ is one of the political assumptions formed a half century ago that he was talking about.

  4. xenon2 February 8, 2016 at 3:28 pm | #

    I always remember that Albright interview
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iFYaeoE3n4

    #nohillary hangs around with some tough broads.
    Voting for #nohillary, is voting for more of the same.

  5. Roquentin February 8, 2016 at 3:34 pm | #

    ’72 and Nixon’s Re-Election was probably the first political campaign I ever really studied in depth, due to my useful obsession with Hunter Thompson and his Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. I have a few observations about that election I’d like to post:

    1) Nixon was able to take the South primarily due to resentment over Civil Rights legislation. I’m sure Corey and the readers of the blog in general know that ’68 was the precise moment the Democrats lost control of the South, which they had dominated since Reconstruction. You could make a decent case that some of this resentment is finally abating. If not, they’re a lost cause to start with and no energy whatsoever should be expended pandering to them. Lastly, I’d argue that if anyone was going to appeal to them, it wouldn’t be someone who uses the old politics (for lack of a better term), the culture wars and things they’ve been taught to hate for almost 50 years.

    2) Nixon was also able to win in 1972 because the Democrats, LBJ in particular, were the primary group responsible for the escalation of Vietnam. Even if McGovern was a strong anti-war candidate, the trauma of the ’68 convention and having been led into the disaster by the same party attempting to get us out had done irreparable damage. LBJ’s “Great Society,” which would be the last serious attempt at social democracy in the 20th century, died as a result of the war, never to return.

    3) It isn’t talked about much now, but McGovern made a disastrous choice for a VP. Thomas Eagleton had received electroshock therapy for mental problems. It goes without saying that mental illness was vastly more stigmatized then, but if Hunter Thompson’s account is to be believed, that’s the moment it all started to go sideways. I remember that part of the book more than any other. Any chance McGovern had of winning went up in smoke with the Eagleton debacle, that was the precise moment it all went sour.

    I say all of the above to try and illustrate that these dynamics aren’t necessarily in place now, and that McGovern losing only because he was “too liberal” wasn’t necessarily the case. I doubt the Hubert Humphrey would have pulled it off either.

    • stevelaudig February 8, 2016 at 6:22 pm | #

      My perceptions/recollections of 68 parallel your observations. I’d dangle this thought out there too: Despite the enormous headwinds Humphrey still nearly pulled it off and had the election been held a few weeks later might well have. McGovern was a one-off in the sense that all that could go wrong did go wrong and/or he was a victim of a temporarily successful criminal-criminal conspiracy and his own limitations. My sense is that the now “far in the rearview mirror” Cold War means that many/most people’s natural socialist tendency can be called by its true name. We can “out” ourselves as Democratic Socialists and/or Christian [thanks to Francis!] Democratic Socialists. The envelope can certainly be pushed. Second thought: should the Republican Party collapse, we don’t want the Democratic party in the hands of the bagmen, influence peddlers and trimmers like those lining up behind and funding Clinton I and II. If that happens then the Democratic Party will simply be an Eisenhower Republican Party [better than the current Cruz/Trump/Rubio/Adelson witches’ brew, certainly] which would be a historic tragedy of missed opportunities. Cheers.

  6. mistah charley, ph.d. February 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm | #

    albright’s widely reported “endorse hillary or be damned, senator elizabeth warren!” (i paraphrase) remark may not have its intended effect

    still, noam chomsky, in a recent interview, advocated lesser evilism when it comes to presidential elections- so if it’s hillary vs cruz in november, hillary has my vote – but it would take something like that for her to get it

  7. Joeff February 8, 2016 at 4:28 pm | #

    HRC is showing all the weaknesses that helped sink her in 08. But Sanders is not Obama. And for many reasons he will he easy pickings for Repubs to demonize and defeat in the general. H is the better bet to win by far.
    Why dwell on winning? Because the winner gets to control the Supreme Court for the next generation. EVERYTHING Sanders advocates and everything progressives (however defined) want are at the court’s mercy.
    So support Hillary, warts and all. It won’t be the Sanders millennium but it won’t be the Roberts-Alito dystopia either.

    • aab February 9, 2016 at 2:04 am | #

      The Supreme Court majority is currently Conservative. This gruesome notion that the court will flip in the next four years relies on more Conservative justices dying than Democratic ones. Otherwise, we have statis — same exactly Conservative rulings, just with a larger majority. And if HRC manages to get elected (which is currently looking less likely than Sanders), the Congress will be, if anything, MORE Conservative and Republican — particularly with the DNC/DSCC/DCCC actually recruiting Republicans to run in Democratic seats still, and blocking progressives. So best case scenario with President H. R. Clinton is that she — centrist (at best), corporatist (indisputably), weakly at best feminist, racist in her past policies, etc. — will push through one or more justices that are acceptable to both her and Mitch McConnell. THAT is what I’m supposed to fight for? That’s basically John Roberts redux. Claiming to be moderate, guaranteed to be corporatist. AND to get those corporatist SCJs, I also get the TPP signed at the very least of the potential terrible things she’d agree to with the Republican Congress. And at least one unnecessary, incompetently managed war that leaves some country devastated and ripe for take-over by terrorists.

      This argument fails on the slightest examination. If Sanders gets the nomination, he’s likely to win in the general, based on everything we currently know. Everything else is fear and projection. If he wins the presidency, he cancels TPP and NAFTA. He brings along actual progressive Democrats. If he can’t flip the Congress now, he starts the progress of funding and supporting progressives for the mid-term. He dials down the pointless warmongering. Better things happen even if he can’t get his agenda passed this term. If he loses the general, he will still have energized progressive candidates down ticket, which could help modulate the damage of a Republican presidency more than Clinton plus some ConservaDems would.

      If you actually LIKE neoliberalism, of course vote for her. If you believe that an entrenched technocratic elite and having a financialized, deindustrialized economy and a vast underclass with weak and ever-decreasing access to economic security and health care is either optimal or inevitable, of course vote for her. I get that there are people doing very well in this system who want to keep things as they are. It’s the dishonesty and fearmongering that makes me nuts. Nominating HRC does NOT guarantee a Democratic president, and HRC as president does not magically deliver a Supreme Court with the votes to do anything progressives want. As Corey said, this is not 1972. We have a different electorate — demographically AND economically. We have different tools to reach them. New Hampshire Democrats are traditionally pretty conservative, you know. That’s why the Clintons have traditionally done so well there. Sanders shouldn’t even be within spitting distance there. The fact that he is — whatever the final result is tomorrow, he’s probably winning — tells you that nominating her out of fear is likely to backfire. Vote for her if you want to vote for her. Advocate for her if you want to advocate for her. But please — stop trying to frighten the rest of us into voting against our interests. On top of all the ways in which that’s ignoble, it’s ineffective. Democrats lose elections when they don’t give voters an affirmative reason to come out for them. That’s what happened in 2010 and 2014. If HRC has to bully and frighten and lie about who she is, what she’s done, and what she plans to do just to get the nomination, it is unlikely she’ll be able to win the general. Which is, in a way, good news. We’re all free to vote for the candidate of our choice right now. That’s delightful!

    • NWLefty February 9, 2016 at 8:40 pm | #

      Clinton will get kicked around in the general too. Donald Trump (in general election) “Hillary is friends with Wall Street and needs their money. I pay my own way.” And since she’s made her campaign all about her and her competency, the inevitable Republican ad hominems will stick pretty easily.

  8. Ivy B (@Ivy_B) February 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm | #

    I will vote for the Democratic nominee no matter who it is because as Joeff says above, control of the Supreme Court is what matters most.

    I support Hillary because I think she is the most qualified and because I would like to see a woman president.

    I am concerned that the GOP will ruin Bernie if he is the nominee. There must be a reason that Rove’s PACs are running ads etc. in support of him. My biggest concern is that I don’t see how he will get his program passed in Congress. There won’t be changes in the gerrymandered House and I don’t see them passing his programs just because he’s a white guy and not Obama. They wouldn’t even vote additional aid for Flint.

  9. Sancho February 8, 2016 at 5:51 pm | #

    I’m unsure why people talk about Sanders as a fragile political naif who will be helpless against attacks on his proclaimed socialism.

    Isn’t that precisely what he’s been dealing for decades?

    • Joeff February 8, 2016 at 10:29 pm | #

      Yes. In Vermont.

      • aab February 9, 2016 at 2:07 am | #

        You do understand that he routinely gets between 25-40% of the Republican vote in VT, right? That’s mostly white, mostly working class, most rural voters. Vermont was a pretty Republican state when he started winning elections. It’s not this arugula eating, Volvo driving nirvana outsiders seem to envision.

      • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant February 9, 2016 at 11:42 am | #

        And, in Washington?

  10. Mark February 8, 2016 at 5:51 pm | #

    Corey: In a few weeks or months (your phrase) the nominee will have been chosen. Whoever wins in South Carolina and in most of the Super Tuesday states will be the nominee. I suspect it will be Hillary, who I think is far the better candidate and would be the better president, but I’ll certainly vote for Sanders if she falters. But are you suggesting that women simply not vote for a few weeks or months if they plan to vote for Hillary? An odd request.

  11. escott February 8, 2016 at 5:54 pm | #

    Yes Corey, this time is different. Heat is on the Right and heat is on the Left.
    Bernie speaks of “revolution”, meaning overturning Citizens United. That’s an apt word, no exaggeration. The sooner understood, the less the pain.
    Hillary’s conservatism means kicking the can further down the same street that’s been getting the Right and Left heated.

    • Joeff February 8, 2016 at 10:34 pm | #

      How does Bernie propose to actually overturn Citizens United? How many votes needed? On the Supreme Court, 1.

      • Samuel February 8, 2016 at 10:57 pm | #
        • aab February 9, 2016 at 2:12 am | #

          She’s also “clearly stated” she’s against the TPP that she negotiated, etc. And she’s a moderate some days, and a progressive others. How do you see her pushing at least two anti-corporatist appointments through the Senate? Bernie’s theory of change at least accounts for the problem and involves flipping seats in the Senate. HRC’s theory involves what, exactly?

      • Ed scott February 17, 2016 at 11:37 am | #

        Citizens United was a revolutionary victory for Oppressors allowed by complacent and distracted citizens. It breaches the sea wall of Our Republic that retarded the tide of human oppression for a dot in humanitie’s timeline ( at least for many people) It makes nonsense of the words “free” and “speech” and “person”
        A revolution, more precisely a counter revolution, is needed to plug that breach. It’s helpful to use the correct words.

        So here we are at the wellsprings of Conservative and Liberal world views. The Conservative view is supported by the history of human nature. It doesn’t change. In the long, a few people will rule the rest, always. Supporting the “people” is a fool’s fantasy.
        The Liberal view is we must evolve our nature to make life better and to ultimately survive. This is in our power.

  12. xenon2 February 8, 2016 at 8:50 pm | #

    #nohillary is evil incarnate, Wall Street elite-brand of neoliberalism.
    She knows how to make deals with foreign leaders, deals about arms and
    those nasty Trade Agreements.

    There is no practical difference between voting for her and voting for a Republican.
    You may think Cruz or Rubio or whoever, is worse, but the you would be mistaken.
    Who ever told you ‘voting for less of 2 evils’ was wrong.

    They are the same.
    Idem sunt.

  13. Joeff February 8, 2016 at 10:36 pm | #

    That’s what some said about Gore. We now have a Court with Roberts and Alito, who gave us Citizens United, gutted VRA and may yet overrule Roe.

    • Joeff February 8, 2016 at 10:38 pm | #

      Also entrenched voter ID.

  14. UserGoogol February 8, 2016 at 11:28 pm | #

    Although I do not strictly speaking support Hillary Clinton and am nervously leaning towards voting for Bernie Sanders, you conflate two very different issues in this post. Even if the political landscape broadly speaking is moving towards the policies of Bernie Sanders, (which I think is true) that doesn’t mean Bernie Sanders will be able to use the levers of power. Strategy and policy are two completely different things. Whether you’re a socialist or a moderate, the questions of how to delegate authority to subordinates, how to use executive power to accomplish goals, how to prioritize working with Congress and corral legislation, the answers to these questions do not automatically differ.

    But at the same time, I think it’s entirely plausible that Bernie Sanders will be better than Hillary Clinton at using the levers of politics, for reasons completely unrelated to what you say. For all his vague idealistic talk about political revolutions, Bernie Sanders has a rather distinguished history of pragmatic sausage-making. He’s the Amendment King, and he’s been in Washington longer than Hillary Clinton has. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has experience with all sorts of levers of power Bernie doesn’t have from the State Department, both bureaucratically and diplomatically, but I’m not sure that’s a critical skill set to have. But still I’m nervous, since he is running a campaign on vague idealism. Which is of course true of most candidates, but since Hillary Clinton is running such a flagrantly unidealistic campaign, and since Bernie Sanders is especially idealistic, (and idealistic in ways that kind of annoy me for arguably petty reasons) it makes me nervous.

    You can be radical in your policies and still be milquetoast and pragmatic in your strategy, and that’s the ideal candidate I’d like to see. But given the options Bernie Sanders might be the best for the job.

  15. Chuck Clark February 8, 2016 at 11:50 pm | #

    Come on folks! The “socialist label” isn’t a social disease of the commies, etc. A good bit of our popular programs that most of us depend on are socialist in nature.

  16. Roquentin February 9, 2016 at 11:11 am | #

    One last thing, and it’s been a long morning so maybe it’s the crankiness talking, but we’ve heard so much about “BernieBros” and how Sanders’ support is supposedly rooted in misogyny, but nothing, absolutely nothing about how support for Clinton is rooted in contempt and derision for the working class.

    So much of liberal identity politics is wrapped up in this. Many working class voters, especially if they are white, aren’t educated enough to have sufficiently PC views on race, gender, and a variety of other topics. I’m not saying that these views aren’t wrong or that we shouldn’t criticize them, but you’d be an out and out fool not to notice that the switch towards culture wars and identity politics closely followed the Democratic Party throwing working class voters off the side of the boat.

    It never ceases to amaze me how blind to this dynamic people on the left often are. Backwards views on political issues are quite often a function of a lack of education and poverty. In my half-assed attempts to be Hegelian, it’s important to see how the system functions on the whole. The supposed “left”, sneering night and day at working class whites, sends them into the open arms of the GOP. This way the class structure of American society is maintained. If you’re lucky enough to be enlightened on the right issues, you get to vote for a party equally hostile to the interests of anyone except the .01% and feel really good and morally superior for doing so.

  17. Brent February 9, 2016 at 11:40 am | #

    I’m #1 and #3 pro-Clinton, but am a huge fan of Bernie. Really hope the “divide” between supporters of the two doesn’t grow, as (to me) it seems right now to be more one-sided on the “anti-Hillary” side out of unfounded fears that because a) she’s rich b) she doesn’t absolutely rail against Wall Street, that she’s not a “Progressive” – which I don’t agree with.

  18. phkelman February 11, 2016 at 8:12 am | #

    My wife just forwarded this to me because I had said exactly the same thing to her yesterday, including the “maybe just maybe part.” I don’t know that we are at a “tipping point,” but I do know that the conditions across the country today are quite different than they were in 1972, namely that inequality is a much greater and much more wide-spread a problem today than it was then. And, let’s not forget the role of social media, cell phones, and the web in general, all of which democratize access to information (and mis-information), opinion, and micro-funding of political campaigns. Frankly, Bernie Sanders campaign, thus far, seems much more like Barack Obama’s than George McGovern’s, and we know how the former turned out in November 2008.

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