I've always screwed up my face at the idea of "undecided voters." Who are these mythical creatures who could possibly not have made up their minds about such a simple decision?
But here I am, more on the fence than ever, and deeply annoyed.
I was strongly leaning toward Sanders for much of the primary. After all, I'm a populist progressive who loves grass-roots movements and aligns with the equitable ideals and achievements of democratic socialism.
And it was wonderful to finally be able to vote for a presidential candidate without holding my nose. What a refreshing idea!
But Sanders has never been perfect. His record
of obstructing common sense gun control is disturbing. And his rhetoric on racial justice
— though certainly improved during the campaign — is clunky at best, shameful at worst.
What's more, Sanders is an economic determinist — the sort of progressive who sees all injustice through the lens of economic inequality and believes if you fix that, you fix everything else. But this simply isn't true, nor is it possible to advance economic equality without addressing the gender, and especially racial, inequality on which economic injustice is built.
Even so, contrasted with a Democratic Party that has been self-defeatingly centrist on all of the above issues, Sanders has felt like a breath of fresh, left-wing air, one the nation seems desperately to need and which I have been eager to inhale.
But then there is Clinton. She is without a doubt one of the most qualified and thoughtful political leaders of her generation. Her work on everything from health care reform to rights for women and girls worldwide is deeply admirable, as is her deep knowledge of every other issue on the domestic and global landscape.
Of course, I don't agree with many of her judgment calls — from her decision to support the war in Iraq, which reflects her overall hawkishness
, to her coziness with Wall Street and historic suppor
t for pro-big business trade deals.
And she's better on racial justice than Sanders, but has yet to adequately account for her past support of legislation that led to decades of over-incarceration of black people she once labeled "superpredators."
But I agree with Hillary Clinton on the issues far more than I disagree with her. And I suspect she would make one of the most effective, efficient presidents in American history. (Then again, I worry she would be equally effective and efficient on the 10% or so of issues on which we don't agree.)
My 7-year-old daughter very much wants me to support Clinton. So much so that she's asked if she can go with me to vote and "press the button" for Hillary (she can't; it's illegal, and the vote is mine). So instead she's been making pro-Hillary signs and argues for Clinton like she's being fed talking points from the campaign.
She wants a woman to be president. It's unfair that there hasn't been one yet, she says. And she's right.
But do I want this woman to be president? And here I'm reminded of the higher standards applied to women in the public eye, the extra hoops women must jump through, the subtle ways they face extra scrutiny. How much of my reluctance to throw in with Clinton is replicating that sexism? After all, I had almost all the same concerns about Barack Obama in 2008, but I enthusiastically supported his campaign.
So here it is — my list of pros and cons as I weigh how to cast my own, individual vote. I'll be watching the CNN Democratic Debate in my home borough of Brooklyn on Thursday, April 14, at 9 p.m. on CNN to see how the candidates address these issues — and hopefully to make up my mind.