When Barack Obama was elected in 2008 I thought we’d stepped back from a dangerous cliff. (check my old blog posts for proof) I was never as enamored with him as many. He was too moderate for me, but it seemed (and still does) to be a genuine moderateness in his world outlook, as opposed to Hillary’s expedient compromises And at that time, it did seem the most practical approach to aim for the center. I believed, like Obama said, that most Americans shared similar aspirations, albeit different ways of getting there. What we needed to do was come together, brainstorm as a nation, and compromise.
I no longer believe that. While I still believe that as human beings we all share some basic desires–food, shelter, love, the well-being of our families–once those personal desires get translated into the public arena, there are differences too vast to bridge. There are a shocking number of Americans who remain prejudiced against people of other races, religions, nationalities and sexual orientation. Who deny the existence of climate change. Who believe we are living in Biblical end times. Who think, in a world where a crazy man can shoot first graders at point blank range, that the Constitution guarantees us the right to trot around with AK-47’s at our hip.
Those people, no doubt, don’t understand a person like me any more than I understand them. We are very divided. We do not share remotely the same world view.
I think Hillary Clinton is a grossly compromised candidate. But if she is nominated for President, I will hold my nose and vote for her. I respect her intelligence and experience. I think she believes in the basic constitutional rights our country was founded on, genuinely does care about the rights of women and children, and would be reasonably trustworthy is a position of power. I think most of my fellow Democrats would follow suit.
My fear is not that Hillary Clinton would win. My fear is that she won’t. If she was running against a moderate Republican I might consider switching parties for the first time in my life, or voting for a protest independent candidate. But unfortunately she will most likely be running against one of the unholy trinity: Trump, Cruz, or Rubio. That Rubio is being held up as a “mainstream” Republican is laughable. He denies climate change and is opposed to ANY environmental regulations. He wants to bomb the Middle East back to the Stone Age. He’s enthralled with sending more prisoners to Guantanamo. He invokes Jesus Christ his savior at every opportunity, apparently unaware of the separation of church and state.
These are bad guys, living in unstable and passionate times, and that makes them very dangerous. Hillary offers, in response, change so measured as to be anemic, one might say pathetic. She reminds me of a parent telling her unruly children to calm down, to accept the world as it is, to give up on their dreams. She is running the anti-passion campaign.
I think her supporters–at first complacent, now perplexed–might want to consider our “enemy”, Iran. Not so long ago, Iran was a stable, culturally progressive, forward-looking country. To be sure, it was more of an oligarchy than a democracy (aren’t we?). There was a wealthy class that lived extravagantly, and a relatively large upper middle class that lived off the crumbs.(see the excellent film Persepolis for a great picture of this) But the huge income inequities between this group and everyone else eventually drove a revolution that found its voice in religious fundamentalism (does that sound familiar to anyone?). The first government after the coup was relatively moderate, and it was only later that they consolidated their power, truly cracked down on personal freedom, and created the fundamentalist theocracy we know today.
Those who think “it can’t happen here” might also remember we assumed attacks like 9/11 “couldn’t happen here” either. We are not immune to the temblors that shake the rest of the world. I don’t think we are quite at a revolutionary tipping point. Too many people are still too comfortable in the US, and a vast apathy permeates our culture. But its taking less and less to tip people out of their comfort zone. Watch your stock holdings vanish in a flash. Lose your job. Be buried under a mound of student loans. God forbid, get sick and find out how little your health insurance actually covers.
Desperate people can go two ways. They can be driven by community and idealism, or driven by fear. Bernie Sanders and Trump/Cruz/Rubio define these two stark choices, while Hillary stands in a melting middle ground.
She dismisses passion at her peril.