Admittedly, there has been a great deal of agonizing. It is not that one individual endorsement for president in 2016 really counts for anything -- but the reasoning behind such an endorsement can be interesting, even enlightening. Having known Bernie Sanders since living in Vermont in the 1990s, and having had lively exchanges of views with Bernie on topics ranging from national security to the need for America to adopt the Scandinavian "ombudsman" system, I have been immensely impressed with his candidacy and his campaign. I have indeed been "feeling the Bern." Bernie Sanders is a most admirable human being who has been a great mayor, Congressman, and now U.S. Senator. Speaking as an economist who designed a new economic system which I call Cooperatism, his issues are indeed my own. On the need to rein in giant corporations, reduce the role of the very wealthy, and re-build America once again, I stand with Bernie.
Regretfully, though, those strengths can become weaknesses when they are pursued to the exclusion of other issues. Bernie Sanders is a bit of a fanatic on such topics as reversing the erosion of America's middle class, and finally achieving single-payer health care as a right of all Americans, and the need to spread the wealth around so that the top one percent no longer control the nation. It is not that he is the slightest bit wrong -- it is that he is unlikely to achieve these goals in four years, or eight years, or even longer. It has taken many decades to get to where we are: a nation of, by, and for the oligarchs. Short of revolution, it will take many years to reverse course. Bernie Sanders is not a person of great patience, however. He is more like the man who prayed, "God, grant me patience, and grant it soon."
Along the way towards the goal of re-democratizing America so that this nation once again becomes progressive, we will experience a host of pitfalls ranging from the ignorance of large segments of society to the willful obstruction of the opposition party at all levels and in all capacities. Bernie would become so frustrated at how little he can really accomplish that there are serious risks of intransigence and unwillingness to compromise. Bernie Sanders would make a great saint, or a great emperor -- but not, perhaps, as great a president as one might realistically wish. He needs, and well deserves, a major cabinet post, such as Secretary of the Treasury.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, will make a great president, who is prepared from Day One to take on a host of challenges facing this nation, and to deal with them simultaneously and effectively. Her handling of that infamous "Benghazi Witch Hunt", including the eleven-hour spectacle staged by the opposition party in a failed attempt to discredit her, is but one recent example of her ability to survive, and even thrive, in the face of adversity. Her decades of experience, both in and out of government, in a wide variety of capacities, will be invaluable. Her ability to grasp the complexity of issues, combined with her humanitarian goals and focus, allow her to keep "her eyes on the prize." Her ability to deal with whomever the opposition nominates will be a given -- and for many of us progressives, also a joy to experience.
And, for good measure, it is long overdue that America have a competent and caring woman as our president. In the mid-1960s, I was privileged to serve as Atlantic County, New Jersey chair of the campaign of the first Black woman to run for president: Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm from New York. Shirley did not win that Democratic nomination then, and the good man who was nominated went down to defeat by the horrid Richard Nixon. That election was a major wrong turn for America, as Nixon was later impeached and removed from office for "high crimes and misdemeanors", as the Constitution phrases it.
During that 1968 campaign, I got to know Shirley Chisholm, who spoke out on behalf of the oppressed minority and poor residents of Atlantic County on many occasions. Shirley presented a list of demands we local progressives had prepared, as keynote speaker at the annual conference of the New Jersey Education Association in Atlantic City, which then voted to never return to A.C. until those demands were met. If Shirley Chisholm were alive today, she would surely stand with those supporting Hillary Clinton for President. I am pleased and proud to be among them.
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)