The main reasons those of us on the Sanders side support him is because
- His policies match our policies most closely, and
- He has an amazing record of sticking by those policies even when they were unpopular or he was one of the few dissenting votes (e.g. the Patriot Act, Iraq war, surveillance state, etc.).
Now that (finally) issues like wealth inequality and financialization are becoming mainstream and the triangulation of the DLC has been largely discredited, it’s a no brainer to support the lone candidate that has been advocating for these issues for over 30 years and not the candidate closely associated with the DLC. I don’t want to vote for a candidate that supported NSA spying, that personally signed off on hundreds of extra-judicial assassinations while serving as Secretary of State, that supported the TPP, supported welfare reform, supported DOMA, supported the Patriot Act, supported CISA, was a cheerleader of liberalizing capital flows, supported the Iraq war, supported tax cuts on capital income, supported draconian crime bills, and is willing to compromise on entitlements.
The other side of the debate is that Hillary is smarter, she is a much better political knife fighter. She can form unlikely coalitions, out-think, out-fox, and triangulate her way to achieving key goals, albeit at the expense of compromising on other issues.
But in this case, it becomes more critical to know what her red lines are. But the verdict so far is pretty bleak. It’s one thing to sacrifice the steel industry for the tech industry, or to side with older voters at the expense of younger voters. But in Clinton’s compromising, the group being thrown overboard has too often been the poor and low wage workers. And that, combined with the increasing intransigence of the Republican Party, guarantees that the Overton window will keep shifting to the right, and the middle class will keep being whittled away, one compromise after the next.
Few Hillary supporters are able to identify any foundational principles that are at the core of her being — principles that she would refuse to triangulate away. Yet Clinton supporters are willing to trust her, believing that those principles are there — apparently hidden to the public, hidden from her voting record — or, what is more likely, merely assume that she shares their priorities because they think she is like them. This is the main foundational error that Clinton supporters are making. Identity politics covers over a multitude of bad votes.
My job as a voter is not to support the chosen career path of a particular politician, nor is it to identify with that politician, but to support a candidate that I believe will most likely serve my interests in the current political climate. The wealthiest Americans are waging a brutal class war that is hurting economic growth and investment. What is needed is a Democratic Party that is not going to let itself get pulled to the right, but will stage a showdown with the Koch brothers and the Club for Growth. We don’t need a brilliant legislative affairs staffer, we need an uncompromising, galvanizing leader. We need a big public debate about a new social compact in this nation, now that one side has defected on its obligations to the other. We don’t need a Clay, we need a Lincoln.