Why Progressives Need Not Shy Away From (Proudly) Supporting Hillary Clinton

Former State Sec. Hillary Clinton and Pres. Barack Obama (Marc Nozell/Flickr)

Former State Sec. Hillary Clinton and Pres. Barack Obama (Marc Nozell/Flickr)

I’ve become a Facebook warrior. Not intentionally. It is not my job, it doesn’t pay, and it doesn’t really bring me satisfaction. But I’ve become this said warrior in order to defend (at least virtually) the idea of free thought.

As the Democratic primary inched at a snail’s pace, overshadowed by the circus that is the GOP race, I thanked my stars that the Democrats were the party where the adults were, and we’d quietly pick between two good candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and coalesce around our flag bearer.

But a funny thing happened on the way towards the nomination. Bernie supporters began an aggressive, no holds barred assault within the party to cajole, intimidate and basically bully their candidate to victory. When the media began to speak about how difficult the numbers would be for Sanders to continue, his followers decided that the way to win hearts… was to pummel Hillary supporters into submission. This includes tactics like harassing superdelegates to protesting at Hillary rallies.

But the real debating is happening virtually. Nowhere most exemplified than by the recent attempted takedown of labor activist and Hillary supporter Dolores Huerta by actor and Bernie crusader Rosario Dawson. Despite starting off as a benign debate of policy, Dawson culminates her “love letter” accusing Huerta of being “an instrument of the establishment” because of her inalienable right to support the candidate of her choosing. For a progressive, to be accused of being a “tool of the establishment” is akin to being called a lap dog among wolves. And yeah, THAT Dolores Huerta. (Sidenote: this outlet spoke to Huerta last month and in that interview, she addressed many of the critiques Dawson made against her several weeks later.)

And that is the overall theme of the Bernie supporter attacks. That Hillary is somehow the center of all socio-economic, environmental and racial injustice, and that anyone who might support her is either uninformed, equally vile, or a “tool of the establishment.” Disagree with that assessment, and you are virtually marked as not one for “the people,” despite your record on progressive issues in the past. My support has been met with disdain, and even an unveiled threat—from someone I would have thought all about free and independent thinking (just as long as you agreed with her, I suspect). On a much more fun and appreciated tactic, I’ve also even been the subject of a collective online “hug out,” a sort of virtual liberal intervention—an attempt to “pray the Hillary away.”

The demonizing of Hillary is not new. Since the first time she showed herself to be a woman of intellect and drive, the idea that a simple wife of a politician would have the gall to want her own influence in American politics relegated her to perma-scorn status. Granted, Hillary Clinton is not Mother Teresa. But neither was Mother Teresa.

But Bernie Sanders and his supporters have taken that to a new level. To them, she has imprisoned a generation of African Americans via her support of 1994 crime bill, despite it being voted on by Sanders as a senator and originally written by Joe Biden. She is being portrayed as Wall Street’s whipping girl because she has the nerve to take donations from them—despite the donor list being almost identical to her predecessor, Barack Obama. She’s even been accused of “killing” a woman in Honduras because she didn’t personally intervene to stop a 2009 coup.

If you believe all of these accusations—being repeated over and over again via memes, FB statuses and tweets, it makes sense that supporters of Sanders would wonder why on earth anyone would want Hillary Clinton as their President.

Hillary Clinton (Credit: Gage Skidmore); Bernie Sanders (Credit: Phil Roeder)

Hillary Clinton (Credit: Gage Skidmore); Bernie Sanders (Credit: Phil Roeder)

But the accusations are muddled and simplified, or stretched to create a narrative that Bernie is the saintly anti-establishment (despite spending over 30 years in politics) candidate, while his opponent is one step away from re-instituting both the monarchy and slavery. And it causes a rancorous atmosphere where there shouldn’t be. In fact, there is more than enough evidence that the far right GOP has been manipulating the far left with anti-Hillary propaganda. Bernie folks are getting played in a classic “divide and conquer” game.

The fact is Bernie and Hillary’s record are surprisingly similar. While they were both senators, they’re votes overlapped 93% of the time. They’ve worked together on bills—including Hillarycare, you know, that attempt to bring about universal health care coverage and subsidized health care for people on low incomes? The one that was the precursor to Obamacare and Bernie’s single payer plan? Yeah, that crazy “establishment” stuff.

The truth is you can be a progressive and support Hillary, and she deserves that support. No one is going to come take away your social justice membership card. Hillary’s positions are clear and easily available to read in detail and they include:

  • Ending Citizen’s United
  • Reducing carbon emissions and promoting clean energy
  • Reforming the criminal justice system and eliminating for profit prisons
  • Taking on the NRA directly to reduce gun violence
  • Enact comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship
  • Strengthen Dodd-Frank and Wall Street regulations
  • Enforcing equal pay for equal work, and raising the federal minimum wage

Bernie is not the only progressive. And there is no reason to believe that Bernie will get any of his plans to work any better than Hillary’s. Their plans are so similar, that the reality is there isn’t much to attack by way of policy—hence the false narrative of Hillary as a modern-day Cruela de Vil. Cue the coat made of puppies meme.

See past the noise and attempts at character assassination, and simply ask yourself the question of whether or not you think the candidate can accomplish what they say they want to do when they get to highest office of the land (despite an obstructionist Congress), and do so while having to deal with those pesky distractions—like terrorists, North Korean dictators and Iranian nuclear centrifuges. Hillary has proven not only to be a champion of a host of progressive bills in Congress, but that she can handle herself on the world stage as well, an experience set not shared by Sanders. By many measures, she’s proven herself to be well-qualified for all aspects of the job.

So don’t let Bernie folks brow-beat you into questioning your conviction. That attitude comes from a desperate and frustrated place, a place that wonders why only caucus states seem to favor the candidate and really, really white states (except Hawaii, of course) , and eager, well-meaning, but inexperienced youth.

But I know it will be hard to get yourself heard above the noise, and the strategy of people repeating accusations loud enough and often enough, to convince themselves and others that it must be true. So to help you, I’ve listed the top myths coming out of the Bernie campaign, and why they are myths, with supporting links. I call them “Selective-Memory-Anti-Hillary-Myths.” I hope you read, inform yourself, and share your knowledge.

#7: Her centrist views are closet Republican views, not real progressive views like Bernie.

Based on votes when they were both senators, Hillary and Bernie agreed 93% of the time. So makes Hillary only 7% the devil.

#6: She’s been working in politics all her life – we need new blood. I’m tired of politicians!

Her opponent has held political office for 35 years, and running for 46. While there is nothing wrong with choosing a life of service, make no mistake: Bernie Sanders is a career politician. This one is perhaps the biggest double standard of the election.

#5: I can’t trust her, because she’s a fundamental liar.

“As for her statements on issues, Politifact, a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization, gives Clinton the best truth-telling record of any of the 2016 presidential candidates.” (Source)

#4: Bernie supporters will never vote for Hillary should she win, leading to a GOP Victory.

While Bernie solidifies his lead with Millennials (justifiably so), should Hillary take the nomination, 2/3 of those under 30 would vote for the Dem.

#3: Hillary will be indicted because of those emails, which means Trump will win.

What one American University law professor Stephen Vladeck has said: “There are plenty of unattractive facts but not a lot of clear evidence of criminality, and we tend to forget the distinction. This is really just a political firestorm, not a criminal case.”

#2 She gets donations from Wall Street!

Obama’s 2008 money also came from the very same people, and no one complained he’d be their puppet.

And the #1 Selective-Memory-Anti-Hillary-Myth: Hillary helped imprison men of color by supporting the racist 1994 crime bill.

That 1994 crime bill everyone keeps talking about, which actually had a lot of support from leaders in inner-city communities, was originally written by Joe Biden. That bill was literally nicknamed “The Biden Crime Bill.” Hillary never voted for, sponsored, or wrote the bill, she simply supported her husband’s efforts to get it passed as First Lady (while admittedly using some god awful phrasing to make that point). Oh, and Bernie Sanders actually voted for it.

When you can calmly and informatively debate and defend your view, the ability to be intimidated disappears. Good luck, proud Hillary-supporting progressive!

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Born in the Bronx, New York and currently a New Jersey resident, Miguel has written multiple entertainment reviews and political opinion pieces for online publications including CNN.com, HLN.com, the Huffington PostLlero.net and The Father Life, an online magazine for dads. You can follow him @miguad98.

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