I have been a wholehearted supporter of Bernie Sanders, who has been a breath of fresh air in the American political scene. I didn't agree with everything he stood for--I was uneasy about his support for drones and for the B-35 bomber--but I resonated with his progressive social and political agenda which I feel is consistent with my values as a Christian and a Quaker.
I was thrilled to see how he moved the Democratic party towards a more progressive platform, one that supports universal health care, free university education, Wall Street reform, campaign finance reform, etc. I also feel he was right on in opposing the TTP and calling for a more balanced approach toward the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
He also showed that it is possible to run a campaign without corporate money and come within a hair's breadth of winning the Presidential nomination. His integrity and commitment inspired a rising generation to dream of a new America, one that is closer to the vision of Martin Luther King when he said, America needs a "true revolution of values."
But the reality is that his tireless and admirable efforts did not lead to his nomination. Instead, we have a nominee who is a centrist, a liberal reformer rather than a true revolutionary. For many on the left, she is a deep disappointment.
But our disappointment should not lead us to be blind to her real virtues, or to undermine her chances of being elected. Hillary Clinton has been demonized so much it was refreshing to see how she was justly praised by Obama, Biden, Sanders, Bloomberg, and yes, Bernie Sanders himself. Hillary has demonstrated her ability to bring together the Democratic party and has the potential to bring together our deeply divided country. Her slogan "we are stronger together" offers a totally different worldview from Trump's "I alone can fix it."
Here are some of Hillary's virtues as I see them:
1) She is smart, rational and "listo" (ready for the job, as Tim Kaine pointed out). Unlike Trump, she is willing to listen to others and compromise. As a pragmatist, she will do what it takes to get things done. I feel that if progressives apply pressure on her, she will listen and do the right thing, much like Obama and FDR.
2) She has the experience and temperament to be President. Although I don't agree with her hawkish foreign policy, I feel that unlike Trump, she won't do anything outlandishly stupid and dangerous. We can't afford to have an unhinged hothead like Trump with his finger on the nuclear trigger.
3) Her liberal credentials are in many ways more solid than Obama's. She was ranked 11th most liberal Senator in Congress, far more liberal than Obama, who was ranked 22nd in the same study. As Bernie pointed out, they are in basic agreement about most issues, and have drawn closer because of Bernie's highly effective campaign. See http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/3/31/1374629/-Hillary-Clinton-Was-the-11th-Most-Liberal-Member-of-the-Senate.
4) She is unashamedly a feminist who cares deeply for the rights and welfare of women, children and families. She has proudly broken the glass ceiling. She has demonstrated that America is finally ready for a woman leader. As she has said, "It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children's and grandchildren's fates, are decided." I am thrilled by the idea of the first woman president following in the footsteps of the first black president. What a breakthrough for America!
So I will do what I can to support Hillary, just as I did for Barack Obama. I will make phone calls in battle ground states to help get out the vote, and I will contribute financially. I will do my best to persuade others to do likewise. The stakes are very, very high in this election. I don't want to see a repetition of what happened in 2000, when the progressive vote was split by Ralph Nader and Bush was elected president.
The stakes are even higher in this election since the Donald makes Bush seem like a Boy Scout. When I think of Trump, I think of the home-grown Fascist hero of Sinclair Lewis' novel, "It Can't Happen Here." In this prescient novel, written in 1935 by the Nobel Prize winning chronicler of American culture, Lewis shows how a Fascist can get elected in America when the liberal vote is divided. Yes, it could happen here and it's up to us to make sure it doesn't!
I am under no illusions, however. The election of Hillary Clinton will not bring us the kind of political, social and spiritual revolution we desperately need in this country. It will, at best, be a baby step in the right direction.
What we need, as Dr. King pointed out, is a "true revolution of values." How can we bring that about? Stay tuned... and let me know your ideas. We need to figure this out together!