Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Thoughts About Hillary and Bernie As Potential Presidents

As you know by now, there are two major Democratic candidates for that party's presidential nomination -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Do they have differences on the issues? Which of the two would make the better president?

The supporters of each are acting like their candidate is the only rational choice -- and that nominating the other would be disastrous. They are both wrong. But there are some differences.

As a progressive, I must say that I like Sanders position on health care. He is in favor of instituting a national government-run, single-payer health insurance system (like a Medicare system for all Americans of any age). Clinton, on the other hand, supports keeping Obamacare and making improvements to it. While I do believe this nation needs a single-payer system, I also believe the nation is not ready for it -- and such a system could not be passed by Congress right now. It will come someday, but only after more Americans realize the need for it. Right now, I think Hillary's position is more in line with what most people want at present.

The two also have a disagreement about gun safety. Clinton is the most progressive on this issue. But again, we must ask what the country is ready to do. An overwhelming majority of Americans would like to see the loopholes in the background check law closed (so terrorists, criminals, and other dangerous people cannot legally buy a firearm) -- and both Clinton and  Sanders would do that. While Clinton would like to go further, the public is much more divided on other gun regulations -- and it is very unlikely that Congress would go any further.

Both candidates have talked about reining in the excesses of Wall Street with new regulation -- and both have come up with proposals to do that. There are differences between their proposals, but most progressive economists say both would be a significant improvement over the current status quo (and they differ over which plan would be the best). I think it is safe to say that consumers would be treated more fairly under both proposals.

Both also have talked about making college more affordable for all students who want a college education, and both have come up with a plan to do that. The plans differ (and we can argue about which would be best) -- but it is a fact that both would make a college education more affordable.

On most other issues, the candidates agree. Both want to raise the minimum wage. Both want to protect and expand Social Security. Both want to take action to curb global climate change. Both want to make sure Americans have clean air and water. Both support, and want to expand the use of clean and renewable energy. Both want the rich to pay a little more in taxes, and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Both support expanding voter access to the electoral system. Both oppose the unlimited electoral spending (including the use of dark money) caused by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Both support women's rights (including "choice" and equal pay for equal work). Both support guaranteeing all workers paid annual leave, paid sick time, and paid parental leave. Both support equal rights and opportunity for all citizens (including minorities). And both oppose religious bigotry.

So, which would make the better president? I think it's a toss-up. When you consider Congress (and what could be gotten from it), I think we would see little to no difference between a Clinton or Sanders presidency.

I am supporting Hillary Clinton for the nomination -- because I committed to support her several years ago, because I think it's time for a woman to be president, and because I think she is the most electable of the two. But I will support either Clinton or Sanders if they win the nomination -- because I think both would make good presidents (and their administrations would be very similar).

I also think a GOP right-wing extremist in the White House would be a disaster for this country. I hope you agree about supporting the eventual Democratic nominee (regardless of who you support in the primary season).

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