During my announcement, my 7-year-old daughter Willa stood by my side on the stage. You see, Willa supports Hillary Clinton. And that’s great! As I said in my remarks:
“Willa wants Hillary Clinton to be president in large part because she wants a woman president. So do I. And make no mistake about it, I think Hillary Clinton is an exceptionally qualified and dedicated public servant and would make an extraordinary president in shepherding the 90 percent of issues on which I agree with her.”
And some people, certainly not everyone, but some people in the audience booed.
Which, to be completely honest, was one of the reasons I hesitated in making an endorsement in the first place—the sense that I would be aligning myself not only with the wonderfully progressive Senator Sanders but his often shockingly vitriolic supporters. Listen, I can sit around and critique Clinton’s positions on key issues as much as the next leftist. But I’m also honest enough to acknowledge where our visions overlap and praise her when appropriate.
I happen to think that Senator Sanders is 100 percent realistic about his goals for our nation, but his supporters are completely delusional if they think Secretary Clinton is evil. We can think Bernie Sanders is the better candidate without thinking Hillary Clinton is bad.
The disturbing fact here is that many of the same fervent Sanders supporters were fervent Obama supporters in 2008. And yet Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are plainly ideologically aligned. If anything, on issues like the TPP trade deal, Clinton has moved to the left of Obama. So the fact that many progressives who enthusiastically embraced Obama’s candidacy are now attacking Clinton smacks of hypocrisy at best and sexism at worst.
I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton’s brand of pragmatic centrist. As I said in my endorsement, while I think Clinton would be a great president on the 90 percent of issues on which we agree:
The problem is, I also think she’d also be a great president on the 10 percent of issues on which we don’t agree. I want the next president to be a Democrat, but I don’t want a Democratic president who supports reckless wars, racist criminal justice “reform,” and destructive trade policies. I don’t want a Democratic president who pals around with Wall Street and the Wal-Mart family. I don’t want a Democratic president who relies on a broken election financing system to gazzillionaire her way into the White House, and then promises to change the broken system when she at the top of it. I want a presidential candidate who changes the broken system NOW.
I’ll continue to praise Hillary Clinton whenever I see fit and hold Senator Sanders accountable when appropriate. Just because I’ve made an endorsement doesn’t mean I become some lock-step robot who fails to see the nuanced pros and cons on both sides.
And to the diehard Bernie Sanders supporters out there, keep booing any praise of Clinton if you want. You’re free to do so. But ask yourselves if you want to create space for people on the fence to actually vote for your candidate or do you only want people to vote for Bernie if they agree 100 percent with you. It seems to me that the Clinton camp has been far more unconditionally welcoming of the votes of Sanders supporters than vice versa and this is a problem not only for this election but for the sustenance of the American left that has to find ways to maintain its values while being flexible enough to grow. That, incidentally, is what real revolutionary movement building looks like.
Anyway, here’s how I ended my endorsement:
Bernie Sanders is making the road by walking it. He wants to transform America for the better as president AND his campaign is already transforming politics for the better. That’s change we can believe in.
This is already a great nation, but we know that it has never been perfect—especially for women and people of color and queer folks and indigenous communities and the poor. We as progressives have always worked to make this country better… yet been told when it comes to our political candidates, we can’t do better than accommodationist centrism. But we can do better! We can have political candidates and a political system that reflects our values and the majority of this nation! We can vote our aspirations and not just our fears! We can transform this country for all of us FOR THE BETTER! We can elect Bernie Sanders the next president of the United States of America.
Go out and vote on Tuesday, my fellow New York Democrats. I hope you’ll vote for Bernie Sanders and vote not just for the future we’re always told we have to settle for but the future we actually want and need. But as my daughter Willa would say, “People should vote for whoever they want as long as it’s not Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.” Amen.