Recently I was discussing the Democratic Presidential nomination contest on line with a Bernie Sanders supporter when I was accused of not having “progressive principles” because I support Hillary Clinton. I knew that in principle I believe in many of the same things my on line discussion “opponent”. So I began to think why, if we share many of the same principles, would we chose such different candidates. After some consideration I explained my thoughts like this:
I am not a pie in the sky idealist; I’m realist. I don’t see the world in just black and whites; I see all shades of gray in between. I am willing to compromise with those that don’t view the world as I do if that will move me closer to achieving my goals. I’m not a dreamer, I’m a doer; I get things done. So I approach politics from that prospective.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t have principals and idealistic goals, far from it. What it means is even if we had identical principles and goals, you and I go would go about trying to make the world a better place using very different methods. With you it seems to all or nothing; you go for the whole enchilada even if the odds of succeeding are very much against you. I tend chose incremental steps with high probabilities of success, and then I chose the next step, and then another. In some cases when the odds are very much against succeeding, not allowing the other side to win is equivalent to a victory.
In large measure that explains our choice of candidates. The Sanders campaign was an all or nothing affair from the start. If elected Bernie promised to make the US a progressive (socialist) paradise, but his odds of wining the nomination were long, his chances of winning the general election even longer, and the probability of enacting even one or two of his glorious programs if elected President are almost non existent.
However, all of that was okay with you. Bernie’s dreams were your dreams of a perfect political system, of a perfect country. His candidacy was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity that you couldn’t pass up. So you were able to either dismiss the long odds in your mind or you allowed your idealism to over ride reality and you chose to believe that hard work, enthusiasm, and determination would over come all obstacles, regardless of odds.
I chose a different kind candidate. I chose a candidate with the experience to be President day one. I chose a candidate with less grand, more pedestrian, but more realist goals who has a much better chance of being elected President of the United States and actually enacting her goals once elected. Is she a perfect candidate? No. Do I agree with her on all issues? No, just most of them, but I learned long ago that seeking perfection in anything is unrealistic. I learned to not let great become the enemy of good enough.
Now you may chose not to believe this, and that’s okay, but our difference are not so much in our principals or our conception of what would be ideal, but in the methods we chose to achieve our goals. If we were playing craps instead of politics your choice would be equivalent to putting all of your money on double sixes (the space with the longest odds and therefore the biggest rewards), believing with all of your heart that you will win, and then rolling the dice. Just don’t be surprised if you lose.
So again, it’s not the differences in our principles that separate us and our choices. Our differences are centered on what we believe is realistic and doable and how we go about trying to make our country and the world a better place.