It is a strange year in presidential politics. Voters are so fed up with the way politics have been run that experience is sometimes seen as a detriment rather than an asset. Nevertheless if we look at the leading Republican candidates and their years holding elected office a pattern emerges. Ted Cruz U.S. Senator (5 years), Donald Trump (0 years), and trailing behind is the man with the most experience in elected office John Kasich.

The Democratic candidates have much more public service elected and otherwise than the Republican candidates. On the Democratic side  we have Bernie Sanders Mayor of Burlington (8) House of Representatives (16) Senate (9). Hillary Clinton Senate (8). She has also been first lady of Arkansas (11 years), FLOTUS (8 years), and Secretary of State for four years. Her pitch is that she has been in the arena for decades and has gotten things done. She has certainly done more for women’s rights and healthcare than all of the Republican candidates combined. Her “pragmatism” and “getting things done” has too often meant throwing the rights of black people under the bus. Michelle Alexander (the author of The New Jim Crow) has called her out on this. She has only recently come around on LBGT rights and marriage. Before this in earlier campaigns she was against them. Her “pragmatism” might appear to consist of what she thinks she needs to get elected. It is worth pointing out that Obama and Bernie also have opposed gay marriage in the past. Let us put cynicism about politicians aside for the moment and recognize that people can grow, learn, and change.

Whether their changes to care more about black or LGBT rights are just political or sincere, is it true that Hillary can “get things done” or that Bernie’s single payer health care system, taxes on the rich, free education at public universities etc. is just pie in the sky? Sanders actually has more experience in elected office and the Congress than Hillary. One might argue that he is more likely to know how to get things done in the Congress than she is. In all honesty neither can govern effectively or bring about change in Washington while the Congress remains the way it is currently composed. The story that is getting underplayed is the importance of the congressional elections. If Hillary’s “pragmatism” is about making deals with her opponents we are doomed. Obama has proven that you can no more reason with Tea Party politicians than you can reason with rabid dogs. The Republicans who did nothing or even voted against things that were originally Republican ideas simply because they were put forth by a black president, will do the same for a woman president. They are a group that prefers to promote grudges, ideological agendas, and prejudices rather than helping the country they were elected to serve.

That is one reason that voters are flocking to Trump: they are dissatisfied with politics and see him as an outsider who speaks plainly (on a middle school level according to the language experts) and is not beholden to Wall Street or corporate interests because he is rich himself. The fact that he is so narcissistic that he will pursue his own interests or those of his class startlingly does not sully his reputation as a “billionaire populist.”He does not have a consistent ideology as does Cruz. His plans are much more impractical than Bernie’s, poorly thought out and oversimplify complex problems. That appears to be exactly what his supporters want. Add in white supremacy and nostalgia for a nonexistent past, then shake.

I am not saying the Democratic nomination process has been determined, but if the campaign boils down to Hillary vs. Trump it is not only practical vs impractical but neoliberalism vs. proto-fascist hucksterism. I’m no fan of Hillary’s war mongering and support of the worst aspects of capitalism. I would much rather  live in the country that Bernie envisions.  Although the perception of being untrustworthy sticks to her like a bad odor, Politifact in reality rates her as telling the truth (or mostly the truth) as much as Bernie and far more often than Trump. Trump has more false statements or outright “pants of fire” lies than all of the other candidates.  Moreover the country of Trump is so abhorrent to me the necessity of stopping him outweighs the horror of voting for a neoliberal. I choose not to remain pure while the building burns down around me. I hope that all Bernie supporters will do likewise if he loses and that at least some of the Trump supporters come to their senses (although there seems to be little evidence of that.)

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