Last night was the first debate for the candidates for Democratic nominee for President. Everyone who knows me at all knows that I will be voting for one of these people - the Republicans can't come close to putting together anything that I could support. So while I watched the RNC debates for the sheer entertainment value, I watched the DNC debate to see who I will support for President of the United States of America.
Firstly, just on the debate itself, wasn't it nice to watch adults talk about serious issues like adults? There was no circus, no badmouthing each other, no ugliness. No denial of science. No talk of whether any of the candidates heard god speaking to them about running. Just a debate about solutions. They disagreed but were never nasty to each other, and they made me proud to be a Democrat.
So now, to the candidates and where I stood before and after.
Throughout the campaigns thus far, I have been torn between Hillary and Bernie. I was hoping that the debate would clear that up for me. One thing that quickly became clear was that there is no other candidate currently in the race who would get my vote. Webb: too cantankerous, too whiny, too Dixiecrat, too much like a Republican. Chaffee: too wishy-washy, too weak, too many excuses for bad votes ("it was my first day and my dad just died" is the new "the dog ate my homework"). O'Malley: too reserved, too docile, too soft. The thing I will say for O'Malley is that in my mind, he has to get a little spicier but then he could be set up for another run down the road. And hell if he doesn't look presidential! With the three of them, I didn't really get a feel for why any of them want to be President or why they were running. They either had no passion, or misplaced passion ("I am not getting as much time as everyone else" is not the most passionate thing I want to hear from your face).
So, it's Bernie and Hillary. I've long supported Hillary, for lots of reasons. Some have to do with her qualifications (which are ginormous), some have to do with her being a woman and really wanting a smart and qualified woman to get into the White House, and some have to do with her having put in enough time standing behind Bill to now get her own chance. I did leave her for Obama in 2008, which was a really hard decision to make but one I would make again if I felt it was right for the country. Last night, I thought Hillary looked presidential, confident, comfortable, and smart. Plus, she was funny and personable, which is something she struggles with. I thought she kicked ass in the debate. I still worry about her changing her mind and position for political reasons. It's fine to change your mind based on new information (which we all should do), but I worry that she does it as the wind blows right or left. That concerns me. but she is such a smart and capable woman who understands politics from every angle and seems like she would know how to get things done.
When I heard Bernie was running, I was excited. A true liberal! An *unapologetic* liberal! Woohoo! And I am still excited after watching him last night. My concerns with him are his electability and his single-minded focus on the poor/middle class. It's great to be from a liberal state and understand what Democratic Socialism is and know that it's not the devil seeping in to make us all communists or some other crooked thinking. I just wonder if he is the nominee, how many uneducated voters would simply not vote for him because he is a "Socialist"? As Anderson Cooper said, the attack ads write themselves. If people can be convinced that Obama is a socialist and hate him for it, what will they do with a man who labels himself as a socialist? And while I agree with all he says about focusing on the poor and middle class, I am concerned that it's all he has to offer. I'm afraid the debate last night didn't convince me otherwise. But here's the thing - I love his honesty. I love his forthrightness. I love that I totally believe every single word that comes out of his mouth. It's so rare in politics to have someone reach this level and still be true to themselves.
The thing that stands out to me is that the thing I love about Bernie is the thing I worry about in Hillary. He is sincere and honest and you never doubt his word. She is so political that you're never sure if she is speaking from the heart or if it's a political move. And then, the thing I love about Hillary is her political savvy and knowledge of the system, and that's one thing I think Bernie lacks as an overall candidate.
I looked at last night's debate as a way to clear things up in my mind, to help me decide who would better represent me as a candidate and eventual President. I don't think it cleared anything for me. I still like everything I liked about Bernie and still have the same concerns about him...and the same goes for Hillary.
The good news is that whichever becomes the eventual nominee (and eventual President, knock wood), I will be happy to support them.Clinton/Sanders 2016!