bernie and hillary signs (multiple)On the morning of the California primary, I waved my “Hillary” sign at a major intersection during rush hour. When my shift was over, I stopped to chat with two young women on the opposite corner who were holding “Feel the Bern” signs.

“Did you go to the rally last night?” I asked, referring to Bernie’s final get-out-the-vote push in San Francisco.

“Yes! It was so amazing!” they exulted.

“That’s so exciting!” I said, adding before I went off for my morning latte, “As long as we all come together in November.”

Although I meant it sincerely, I must have come across the way every middle-aged mom comes across to children wary of criticism disguised as sweet talk. Their tone darkened immediately: “If we do, Hillary owes us big time.”

I thought of these young women as I watched the Democratic Convention, struck by how young so many attendees were. They had come full of hope and passion, the tears streaming down their faces as their hero Bernie took to the podium. I recognized those rapt faces, those tears. A long time ago that had been me (albeit in my living room, not on any convention floor) soaking in the glory of my hero, George McGovern, incredulous and heartbroken that our noble mission had fallen short.

But I was also myself as I am now: an older woman who felt horrified by the lack of respect and decorum these same young convention-goers showed as they booed and jeered the speakers.

Then I thought of another indecorous young person—my daughter. When Emma was in high school, a classmate’s mother died. My husband and I were away at the time, but when we returned we learned that Emma had attended the memorial service wearing a hot pink wig and a matching sequined mini-skirt that barely covered her privates.

Horrified and ashamed, I lamented my daughter’s inappropriate behavior to a friend.

“Well,” that friend responded. “At least she showed up. That’s what matters.”

Thank you, Bernie supporters, for showing up, with all your passionate, rowdy, heartbroken, idealistic, organized, and chaotic fervor. You have improved the debate, improved the platform, improved Hillary, improved the country. We do owe you big time. I hope you continue to show up.

That’s what will matter, in November and beyond.

Getting Out the Vote

Bernie and Hillary signsOn Sunday I got lost in the hills of a nearby neighborhood canvassing for my candidate in the Democratic presidential primary. This is not something we Californians normally do, since the contest is usually put to bed by the time we vote in the primary. And since California is the deepest shade of blue among the blue states, hand-to-hand combat with our neighbors in the fall is unnecessary. Mostly we just write checks and work the phones so we can disrupt people’s dinners in swing states.

This year, though, friends and neighbors are passionately divided over Hillary and Bernie, who are neck and neck in the fight for California’s cache of 475 delegates. Victory (or defeat) is of highly symbolic if not mathematical importance.

I have liked both Sanders and Clinton from the beginning. Both have significant and different strengths and vulnerabilities. For a long time I was undecided, and certainly thought I could vote any which way in the primary because it wouldn’t really matter.

I no longer believe that. And I am no longer undecided.

I am proud to be walking neighborhoods and voting for Hillary Clinton. She has greater depth and versatility than Sanders, and would be more effective at governing and moving a centrist country toward progressive solutions.

Bernie has been a valuable spokesman and motivator for the defining issues of our day. At one point I would have loved to vote for him in the primary.

But Republican leaders, in keeping with their damaging “party above country” stance, are now falling all over themselves to support a candidate they know to be unfit and unqualified for any office let alone president. Democrats can no longer afford to stay in their usual favorite formation, the circular firing squad.  I’m all for the primaries playing out, and for Sanders having a big say in the platform and at the convention. But an ongoing two-flank battle for the nomination itself is a foolish pipe dream that only weakens Hillary (who has legitimately won millions more votes and nearly 300 more pledged delegates than Sanders).and strengthens the Republicans for the fall.

I’ve decided to work hard and vote for Hillary now not only because I think she’d make the best President, but so she’s in a strong position to take on Trump.

My friend Ruth used to say, “My heart’s with Bernie, but my head’s with Hillary.” I know many people whose heads and hearts line up for Bernie, and now Ruth and I both count ourselves among the many whose heads AND hearts line up for Hillary. If you are still divided  within yourself, please consider what I am saying, and choose Hillary for California.

Most important, no matter how you vote in the primaries, vote Democratic in November.

Vote Democrat

Electable Enough?

Bernie and Hillary signsThese are exciting times for those of us who reside in the dark blue bubble of the San Francisco Bay Area. Like the parents of teenagers, we’re used to being ignored by presidential candidates unless we’re being asked for money. But this time, our votes almost matter. That’s an unfamiliar feeling.

We’re also unfamiliar with impassioned disagreements among hitherto like-minded friends and neighbors. Now we get to experience what the good citizens of Ohio routinely practice—living peaceably through constructive persuasion alongside people who hold stupid and wrong different beliefs.

Take, for example, my Friday hiking buddies, who are Feeling the Bern. As for me, all I feel is heartburn at the prospect of any Republican in the White House.

“Okay, I’m officially undecided,” I said to my friends last fall. “The thing I care most about is electability. Persuade me.”

“I don’t give a damn about electability,” responded Gary. “I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils!”

“Same here,” chimed in Sharon.

Then Gary decided to turn up the charm on his undecided prospect: “One thing I’ve never liked about you,” he railed at me, “Is how willing you are to compromise your principles.”

Reading my mind before I could even open my mouth, Gary added for good measure, “And I don’t care about the Supreme Court!”

Like I said, this was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Justice Scalia was still alive. The presidential prospects of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were widely viewed as DOA. But as this crazy primary season has unfolded, all bets are off about who’s the most electable.

On most days, it seems like even I could beat Donald Trump. But given Hillary’s earned and unearned negatives, Bernie, pointing to national polls, argues that he’s the better candidate to prevail in the general election.

I’m still not feeling the Bern, though.

I love Bernie. He has assumed the mantle of electoral politics that the Occupy movement unwisely shunned. I am grateful to him—as I am to Occupy—for articulating issues like economic injustice, and for making Hillary a better candidate. I ought to feel as Sharon did when I first asked her if she was supporting Sanders: “He stands for everything I believe in? Why wouldn’t I support him?”

George McGovern stood for everything I believed in back in 1972. I supported him with the fervor so many of my friends now feel for Bernie. Like them, I was convinced that our righteous cause would prevail. How could it not? I still remember the disbelief I felt, the tears I shed the day after Richard Nixon creamed him. Those who lived in the one state McGovern carried coped by affixing bumper stickers that said, “Don’t Blame Me: I’m from Massachusetts.”

I do not want the cold comfort of a bumper sticker that reads, “Don’t Blame Me: I Voted for Bernie.” Because even though polls show that Sanders currently does better than Clinton in the general election, Bernie will likely get creamed once the Republican attack machine gets going. Besides, most of his supporters aren’t willing to pony up the taxes his proposals require. And even if they were, there’s that inconvenient truth known as Congress mucking up the political revolution.

I want a strong and competent Democrat in the White House who will get there with the votes of people more moderate and hawkish than I am. I want incremental progress rather than a failed revolution. I want the balance on the Supreme Court to shift left. I’m ready to skip the high hopes—and crushing disappointment—the candidate of my dreams evokes. Been there, done that.

I want Hillary. She’s highly intelligent, dedicated, a hard worker, and an indefatigable champion of women, children, families, and the middle class. She’s a credible player on the world stage. She knows how to govern. Besides, we need Bernie to remain a potent voice for change, a voice best amplified by remaining an outside critic.

I’m reminded of Henry David Thoreau’s words: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Hillary Clinton can be the foundation upon which Bernie Sanders and the movement he’s sparked can continue to build.

But no political revolution or incremental progress will come about if Hillary and Bernie supporters who are duking it out right now stay home come November. These bumper stickers I saw today say it all:

So whether you’re Ready for Hillary or Feeling the Bern, get out there and vote!