Time for Hillary’s Silent Majority to Speak Up

Monday, January 25, 2016

By Kindler

 Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Donald Trump has revived an old Nixonian term in claiming that his supporters constitute a “silent majority”.  Of course, like most of what Trump says, this is bunk: no poll has ever shown him with a majority (as opposed to a plurality) of Republican voters, and if there’s anything of which he and his supporters are incapable, it’s silence.

But on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has an actual claim to the title.  She has held a majority of Democratic voters in nearly all the polls to date.  And many of her supporters frankly have been pretty quiet.

I know because I’m one of them.  I’ve been generally unobtrusive in my support for Hillary for a number of reasons.

First, I’ve frankly enjoyed watching Bernie’s challenge to her, and have found it beneficial in many ways.  Democracy thrives on competition, and Democrats in particular – for good reason – don’t like coronations.  Every candidate should have competitors holding his or her feet to the fire.  That Bernie has been an articulate advocate for progressive causes makes that challenge all the more worthwhile.

Second, as many have pointed out, Hillary is not necessarily the type of candidate that drives you to want to set up flaming barricades in the street.  She’s a smart, competent, experienced, articulate progressive whose campaign style has much improved from the past.  I think she will be a formidable standard bearer for the Democratic party.  But so far, she’s led a campaign, not a movement – or, well, revolution – and so, many of her supporters have not felt the need to scream just yet.

Finally, I’ve been confident that she will prevail in the battle for the nomination, and so haven’t felt a necessity to raise my voice.

That is, until this moment.  As Bernie-mania grips the press and social media, it is now time for Hillary supporters like me to speak up and provide a reality check.  No, I don’t mean that it’s time for more petty sniping and name-calling between supporters on both sides – that does no one any good.  But it is time to stand up and support our candidate, and explain why.

 Hillary’s always been more of a progressive than she’s given credit for, just as all the media hype about her being “untrustworthy” has long been blown way out of proportion.  We’ve been breathlessly warned about “Clinton scandals” for two and a half decades, and all we ever really got was one lousy blow job.

While staking out strong progressive positions on a range of issues, she’s also been in the political and governmental realm long enough to know what’s achievable.  We need a candidate who not only has a strong shot at getting elected, but who is ready to govern once that happens.

The sad fact is that Bernie Sanders is catnip to Republican political operatives, and they can’t even hide how thrilled they are at the idea of running against him.  This article from Yahoo News is a good foretaste of what you’ll hear 24-7 on the media if he’s the nominee.  Republicans will make sure you never stop hearing about his visit to the Sandinistas in 1985, his one-time interest in nationalizing major industries, and of course that word, “SOCIALIST”.

Yes, I understand that the Socialist label is not as toxic to Democrats as it once was – ironically enough, probably due in part to how continuously conservative outlets like Fox have wrongly applied the word to standard progressives like President Obama.  But that does not mean that the general public is any more ready to accept a Socialist president than they’ve been up to this point.

I would politely challenge any Bernie supporters who think he can win the presidency to provide me a list of self-described Socialists who’ve won national office over the past 50 years.  Few movements begin at the presidential level.  While a political revolution such as Bernie promises would be wonderful, I’d like to see more evidence of it – beyond thousands of white folks attending his rallies – before I sign up.

I suspect that many of the young people supporting Bernie don’t know a lot about the days before Bill Clinton’s presidency when Democrats had a heck of a hard time winning the White House.  We lost with Humphrey in ’68, with McGovern in ’72, with Carter in ’80, with Mondale in ’84 and with Dukakis in ’88 – winning during that long stretch only with Carter in ’76 after Nixon resigned in disgrace.

I sure don’t want to go back to those days, but more to the point, America can’t afford for Democrats to lose when Republicans are set to elect a right wing lunatic like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz – or even Marco Rubio.  We can’t afford to play around when our opponents are floating insane policies like banning Muslims, expelling 11 million undocumented immigrants, doing nothing about climate change, or prohibiting abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

As David Roberts discussed in Vox recently, even if elected, Bernie would almost surely face all the same constraints that Obama has had to deal with during his presidency.  Anyone who thinks that all the barriers to single payer health insurance or breaking up the banks are suddenly, magically going to melt away is smoking something that won’t be legalized under Republican rule either.

I love to dream big progressive dreams, and I give kudos to Bernie for sketching out many of those dreams so beautifully.  Some will come true, too, but only through the same grinding processes of organizing, legislating, deal-making and day-to-day governing that constitute the American system of governance.  This will not change no matter who is elected.

We need to win and we need to govern, and Hillary Clinton is the best equipped to do both.  And I’m not going to be quiet about my opinion on that matter any more.