Assessing the Candidates, Part Two

[Part One.]

Here is another curious thing about engaging with Sanders Stans: The axiomatic assumption, stemming from the (unjusitifed) conclusion that if I prefer Hillary Clinton as a candidate I must hate Bernie Sanders; that if Sanders gets the nomination, I won't support him.

I am not a Democratic partisan, but I have always supported the Democratic nominee, with various degrees of enthusiasm. Sometimes, it has only been to defeat the Republican nominee, and that's more than enough for me.

(No one else is required to agree.)

The truth is, every time there has been a Democratic primary in my voting lifetime, I have never supported the eventual Democratic nominee during the primary. My horse has lost every single time.

And sometimes, that has been a good thing! It's impossible to overstate how much more successful a presidency Barack Obama's has been than John Edwards' would have been, since he turned out to be a huge dirtbag.

Even though Obama wasn't my first choice, I happily cast a vote for him. Twice.

If I had the opportunity to cast a vote for him a third time, I would.

And I spent an awful lot of time criticizing President Obama during the '08 primary, appealing to him to do better. I have spent an awful lot of time criticizing him during his presidency. Because I saw someone who I thought was capable of doing better.

(Though it may have escaped the Sanders Stans' notice, I've spent an awful lot of time criticizing Clinton, too.)

I expect more. Always more.

Which brings me again to the point that criticisms of Sanders are not because I hate him, or would refuse to support him if he is the eventual nominee, but because I have legitimate disagreements with him, and because I recognize he could be the nominee, and I want him to be the best candidate possible if that is the case.

Candidates don't get stronger through deference, but challenge.

Clinton has navigated an enormous amount of challenge to her policies and principles on the national stage, from both progressives and conservatives. It has demonstrably made her a stronger candidate, even just since the last time she ran.

For that reason, and others, it is my estimation that Clinton is better prepared overall for the presidency, of two candidates neither of whose proposed policies and historical records perfectly align with my priorities (and in both cases vastly differ on some issues).

That doesn't mean I would hate a Bernie Sanders presidency, were he to win the nomination and the general election. To the contrary, I'm open to the possibility that I could like a President Sanders.

Just like I have liked President Obama.

The things I didn't like about his candidacy, well, I don't like about his presidency, either. And there are other things I didn't even expect that I don't like. But there have been a lot of things I didn't expect that I do like, too.

The same will probably be true of whoever the next Democratic president is. Not certainly. But probably.

Don't mistake my measured approach as passionless indifference. Trust that someone who has spent the last 11 years of her life writing about politics doesn't do it because she's apathetic. I just don't need to despise one candidate to prefer another.

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