Why Progressives Should Support Hillary Clinton-- A Guest Post By Matt Cartwright
After Syracuse, New York congressional candidate Eric Kingson wrote a guest post last week explaining why he had endorsed Bernie, I decided to ask some of the progressive congressmen who we admire and respect to do a companion piece about why they had endorsed Hillary. I was stunned by the response. Virtually every Member I asked said something along the lines of "I'll pass; I'm sorry I endorsed her and I don't want to remind anyone." But yesterday-- right after Rep. Peter Welch announced he was endorsing Bernie and would be voting for him, as a super-delegate, at the convention, Matt Cartwright (D-PA), one of the smartest and most committed progressives in the House, sent me his ideas about why Hillary merits the support of progressives. Whether you agree with him of not, please consider contributing to his reelection campaign here; it takes a lot of guts to come onto DWT and make a case for Hillary Clinton.
Why Progressives Should Support Hillary Clinton
-by Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
A lot of my friends stop me and ask why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton for President. I’m a self-identified progressive Democrat. In fact, I like to call myself a Roosevelt Democrat. And I agree with so much of what Senator Sanders says. So why the endorsement for Secretary Clinton in this presidential primary?
Three reasons. First, experience. Second, breadth and depth of knowledge. Third, electability in the general election.
First, I think Hillary is the candidate who has the experience to make a real difference for working families. She has a lifetime of experience fighting for children and families and getting results. She has fought to break down the barriers that hold people back, fighting for racial justice, LGBT rights, women’s rights. Hillary Clinton really cares about making life better for everyday, ordinary Americans, and she has the experience to get the job done. Her service as a lawyer, as a U.S. Senator, as the U.S. Secretary of State, and yes, as First Lady, has exposed her to such a wide range of experiences that she is eminently qualified to lead our nation, and actually achieve goals that are core beliefs of Democrats all over this country.
Second, while Hillary cares deeply about the unacceptable income and wealth disparity that has come about in this country-- as deeply as Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, and any of the Democrats serving in Congress-- she is not a single-issue candidate. To be successful, America’s president has to be multifaceted and well-rounded. I have been with Hillary Clinton in the House Democratic Caucus when she has spoken passionately and with great depth of understanding about combatting climate change and protecting the environment. Her knowledge of the issues surrounding health care coverage is encyclopedic, and she is committed to continuing the work of President Obama in moving us closer to universal coverage.
Her facility with the complexities of world realpolitik is astonishing. Hillary Clinton is an American patriot whose towering intellect and tireless efforts have helped President Obama keep our nation out of war, restore our international reputation for fairness and justice, and start to bring rogue nations like Iran back into the civilized family of nations. In point of fact, there is one candidate on the debate stage who actually does have a good grasp on how to deal with ISIS and jihadist terrorism, and it is Secretary Clinton. She was right there in the war room when American forces got Osama bin Laden. She will be a capable and levelheaded Commander-in-Chief.
But third, and most important to me, is this question of electability.
Even before the death of Antonin Scalia, I felt that the most important issue in this presidential election was control of the Supreme Court. The death of Justice Scalia has now taken that issue from the theoretical into the starkly real. Democrats simply cannot take the chance of losing the White House. Citizens United will not overrule itself; a Democratically-selected Supreme Court will be required to save our democracy from the influence of unlimited money. The Court will be ruling on fundamental questions of voting rights, the rights of labor unions, racial minorities, those accused of crime, and anyone seeking fair access to justice in American courts. Also hanging in the balance are President Obama’s executive orders on health care, climate change, and many other issues.
Unfortunately, the leaders of Republican Senate have already vowed to not fulfill their constitutional responsibilities, breaking with all precedent, and will likely fail to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination no matter how qualified a person he puts forward. If Justice Scalia’s replacement is not selected by a Democratic president, our nation, its people, its democracy, and its environment will be in a very bad way, for a generation. The Democrat nominee for president must win.
Reasonable people may ask why I would assume that Sec. Clinton is more electable than Sen. Sanders. After all, in many of the polls, they perform about the same in head-to-head matchups against the leading GOP candidates. Indeed, some polls show Sen. Sanders doing better against the Republican field.
The answer is that no one has ever really attacked Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton has been the object of an incessant, unrelenting, 20-year fusillade of attacks from the right, including nightly derogation on FOX, repeated gratuitous Congressional investigations, and a cacophony of rabid radio talk-show diatribes, not to mention a seething, right-wing, on-line onslaught. She has survived. Her poll numbers have a generation of Republican scrutiny and attacks already priced-in. In the general election, watching right-wing attacks on her will be like viewing old re-runs.
On the other hand, Republicans have not yet begun to fight Senator Sanders. When their guns open up on him, they will not play fair. They will not treat him with kid gloves, as Hillary Clinton has done up to now. They will not describe him as a Democratic Socialist. They will say he is an out-and-out Bolshevik, planning to nationalize entire sectors of the economy, planning to collectivize the means of production, and planning to take away private property, including possibly your house.
Their material will be fresh and new. Operatives are already combing through a lifetime of Sanders remarks, votes and bills he has written. They are likely to find ample material to twist into support for their narrative that he is an American Trotsky.
They will do that because they know it will work. Socialists do not get elected president in this country, capitalists do. Republicans are holding their breath, hoping against hope to see Bernie Sanders become the Democratic nominee, because he reminds them of George McGovern, whom they successfully clobbered for being way, way too liberal. And McGovern was a Democrat, not a Socialist.
The money funding these attacks will be unbelievable. Remember, to start with, the Republicans are even more afraid of losing the Supreme Court than the Democrats are. But add to that what the principal Sanders message has been. It is axiomatic that since Sen. Sanders’s main plan is to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, their antipathy for him in particular will be off the charts. If Mr. Sanders is the nominee, endless money from deep, deep pockets will be funding those attack ads.
With all that money, Republicans can afford to make captivating, imaginative, effective attacks, and to saturate every media market in every corner of the nation with them. With so much at stake in this election, it is certain that this would happen. Sen. Sanders has never faced this amount of scrutiny or disparagement. To think that this kind of withering assault would have little effect on the election is to take naivete to new levels.
I like Senator Sanders’s ideas. I think he is adding a fullness to the American political discourse that few have managed to do before him. He is speaking truths out loud that people have been previously reluctant to utter. But Hillary is the better choice, because she is more experienced, more knowledgeable on a wider range of subjects, and more likely to win this autumn’s election-- one that the Democrats cannot afford to lose.