Clinton and Sanders and Me

Question in email:

A couple months back you posted about the GOP presidential candidates but you haven’t said anything about the Democratic candidates. Any thoughts? 

My thoughts are thus:

I suspect that despite people getting hopped up about Bernie Sanders that the nomination is still going to go to Clinton in the end, and I’m fine with that. But if it goes to Sanders instead, I’m fine with that too. And if both Sanders and Clinton are suddenly trampled to death in a freak spontaneous elk stampede and Martin O’Malley is the only Democratic candidate left standing, I’m fine with that, as well.

I recognize that there are material differences in the personalities and policies of each of the Democratic candidates, and that these differences are not insignificant. But at the end of the day, what matters is that each of them, any of them, is so drastically preferable to any member of the howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger that is the current GOP field that, to me, and for the purposes of my presidential vote in November, the policy and personality differences between Clinton and Sanders and O’Malley are immaterial. Whoever the Democratic candidate is, they will get my vote.

Note well that this does not mean that in any election year, any Democratic nominee would get my vote; if the Democratic field in another year were as pathetically mashed-potato-brained as the current GOP field, it’s entirely possible I’d kiss off the lot of them, too. As a matter of political honesty I admit it would take more for that to happen, as there are consequences to a GOP president that I wouldn’t like (see: Supreme Court as the obvious example), and that’s not insignificant. But it’s possible. However, this year I judge all three Democratic nominees competent enough that this isn’t a problem.

As I don’t really have a problem with any of the Democratic candidates from a competence perspective, I’ve been largely unengaged regarding the current tsuris brewing between Clinton and Sanders (O’Malley has no chance and is in this for a cabinet position or maybe a Vice President slot). Again, in the end I think Clinton’s going to pull it out and I suspect in the long run that’s better for the Democrats because she and her machine are likely to be better engaged in the downmarket congressional races, but if she doesn’t? Well, fine, Sanders it is, and he’ll have fun with his veto stamp.

I recognize there are a lot of people who feel very passionate about Bernie or Hillary, in what to me feels like a “Kirk or Picard” sort of way. That’s nice for them, but I find the spitty sort of rage they appear to feel about their less-favored Democratic candidate kind of stupid. I do hope people realize that after the primaries are done there is still the general election, and the GOP standard bearer will be delighted if a large portion of the potential Democratic electorate has ragequit in a fit of pique because they didn’t get exactly the presidential candidate they want. This is how you end up with a President Trump, or President Cruz, people. So suck it up, be an adult and vote for either Clinton or Sanders, even if you wanted the other one instead.

(But — third party candidate! Oh, my sweet summer child. You’re adorable. I mean, if you were always going to vote Libertarian or Green or whatever, or were otherwise honestly up in the air, then don’t let me stop you. Groovy by me. But if you were going to vote Democratic but then didn’t get your way in the primaries, so screw it, then yeah. Maybe think beyond your own fit of foot-stomping pique. I suppose this also holds true for you potential GOP voters who might ragequit if Trump/Cruz/whomever doesn’t get the nomination, but my point of view, since that field is filled with people I wouldn’t vote for even if you promised me all the ice cream I ever wanted for the rest of my life, delivered by a unicorn that farts gold coins and diamonds, I’m less concerned if you do it.)

From my own point of view this year I think it’s important to recognize that this GOP field is easily the worst in any election cycle I can remember, and in particular its top candidates — Trump and Cruz — are just appalling. I was not going to vote for McCain or for Romney in the last two elections, but in both cases I could see the valid argument for them (and for keeping them alive so their respective vice-presidential picks never took up residence at the White House). I didn’t think they might actually offer lasting damage to the office. I don’t feel the same way this year. Barring the sudden ascendancy of Kasich, or the now-increasingly-unlikely chance of Rubio finally finding his ass with a flashlight, the GOP standard bearer this year will either be a populist racist or a preening, deservedly-disliked tub of self-regard, neither of whom I want anywhere near the levers of executive power.

Neither Clinton or Sanders is perfect — Clinton in particular comes with a healthy load of baggage — but the qualitative difference between the two of them as presidential candidates, and Trump and Cruz, is the starkest contrast between the two major parties in my political lifetime. This isn’t even a contest. Or shouldn’t be. I’m embarrassed for the country that it actually is.

So, yeah: Democrats, pick Clinton, pick Sanders, hell, pick O’Malley. From my point of view, given the competition, they’re all equally likely to get my presidential vote. I mean, I’d like to have the luxury of actually caring about the policy differences between the Democratic candidates. But this election year, it just doesn’t matter. Democratic positions are generally closer to my own, but this year, I’m mostly voting against the GOP valorizing the horrible people it’s made as its choices for front runners, and, likely, for whichever of those horrible people it will choose as its candidate.

David Hartwell

Me, Robert Charles Wilson and David Hartwell with our respective awards at LACon IV, 2006. Photo: Kathryn Cramer

Very bad news about David Hartwell, one of most important editors of science fiction and fantasy: According to Kathryn Cramer, David has had a massive bleed in his brain and is not expected to recover. Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who has known and worked with David for decades, has further thoughts and information.

I’ve also known David for a number of years; his knowledge of and passion for science fiction and fantasy literature is beyond contestation. My thoughts are now to Kathryn, their children and family, and all who know David, personally and professionally. This is a significant loss for the field.

Edit, 8pm: Kathryn Cramer reports via a Facebook comment to Neil Gaiman that David has indeed passed away. May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.