Sanders offers panacea, Clinton offers reality

Noah M. Horwitz

Eight years ago, in the midst of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, I was too young to vote. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, along with a plethora of other contenders, fought for the nomination. My parents supported opposing candidates in the primary, as did many others all across this country. To the extent that I could participate in the process, I initially supported Dennis Kucinich.

Kucinich, then a congressman from Ohio, voted against the Iraq War. He opposed the Patriot Act. He supported single-payer health insurance and gay marriage, back at a time when both Clinton and Obama pandered to homophobic bigots. To me, Kucinich represented the full potential of the Democratic Party, remaining pure from the adulteration of moneyed interests.

This should sound familiar. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who last Tuesday won the New Hampshire primary by a wide margin, is largely considered Kucinich’s political heir. However, Kucinich never even came close to winning a single nominating contest. Sanders is on the path toward a long, competitive campaign. Him winning the Democratic nomination, while still not likely, is possible.

The attentive will probably remember that I have not been the most supportive of Sanders in the pages of the Texan. I plan on voting later this month for Clinton. Accordingly, this anecdote about once being supportive of Kucinich may not make sense upon first glance. But it does.

Don’t be like 14-year-old Noah. The middle school version of me, in addition to having various cringe-worthy idiosyncrasies, did not have a complex understanding of politics, life, the world or reality. Since then, I’ve worked — both in the public and the private sectors — and I’ve been involved in enough campaigns to be a little less naïve.

Kucinich, like Sanders today, argued that most of America’s problems could be solved with very easy fixes. That taxing the rich or breaking up big banks is a panacea capable of rectifying all of our country’s issues. In contrast, Clinton has been maligned for being too pessimistic and incremental in her approaches, but she’s being realistic.

Clinton’s proposals are grounded in reality. She can actually work with the Republican majorities in Congress that are almost sure to exist during the 45th presidency. And, most importantly, she has a better chance of winning a general election against a Republican, such as Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

I’ve become more centrist in the past eight years, but there are still myriad issues in which I agree with Sanders and disagree with Clinton. I believe Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with single-payer healthcare, though I am still skeptical of Sanders’ fiscally irresponsible way of doing this. I still oppose the Patriot Act. I support legalizing marijuana and abolishing the death penalty.

The 14-year-old Noah would have leapt at those comparisons. I would have thought that just shifting a few things could have made everything better overnight. I would have felt the Bern. Today, I realize that the truth is a little more complicated. Clinton realizes this, too, and that is why I’ll support her.

Horwitz is a government senior from Houston. Horwitz is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.