A couple weeks ago, I voted for Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary.
Today, I'm prepared to switch my support to Hillary Clinton.
All Secretary Clinton has to do to earn my support today and my vote in November is go up to Capitol Hill and convince Senate Republicans to hold an up-or-down vote on any Supreme Court nominee that President Obama should happen to nominate before his term of office expires.
This is, of course, neither an unreasonable request nor, if I understand Mrs. Clinton's campaign pitch correctly, a particularly tall order. After all, the U.S. Constitution both guarantees Separation of Powers and mandates that the Executive Branch "nominate and appoint" a replacement Supreme Court Justice when an opening arises on the nation's highest court. More than this, legal scholars agree that while the Constitution permits the U.S. Senate to withhold its consent for any Supreme Court nominee -- that is, by voting against the nominee in an up-or-down vote -- it does not give Mitch McConnell, or anyone else in the Legislative Branch, the right to literally cancel a democratically elected President's term of office a full year before its expiration.
Which is what McConnell today announced he would do.
So as I see it, Mrs. Clinton should have little difficulty getting 54 (or even just 14) Republicans in the Senate -- all of whom swore an oath to uphold the Constitution -- to execute their constitutionally mandated duties.
After all, the premise of Mrs. Clinton's campaign is that not only does Washington already work well enough to not require radical change, but that it will work even better than it does now with her at the helm -- the Republicans' stated desire to see her indicted for federal felonies and imprisoned forthwith notwithstanding. Though the American people's approval of the Congress currently sits at 9% -- by way of comparison, twice as many Americans, or 18%, believe the Sun revolves around the Earth -- an important component of Mrs. Clinton's pitch to American voters is that she can "get things done" in Washington.
As a current Sanders supporter, I think there's no better way for Clinton to prove this claim true than to get a small group of largely religious people who have sworn on the Bible to do something to do that something.
As I await the mirabile dictu of Congressional effectiveness after twenty years of appallingly obvious and systemic dysfunction, I'll make one note about Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders: that at present, these are the only two candidates for President who are being honest with the American people on a point so key to November's election that its acceptance seems a prerequisite to the casting of a ballot.
That point? That Washington is irrevocably broken, and that no politician who promises to fix it using its present structures as a base is honest.
It is tiring to watch pundits ask, day after day, "Why in the world does anyone support a narcissistic, bigoted blowhard like Donald Trump? Or an avowed Democratic Socialist like Bernie Sanders?" It's tiring because the answer is obvious: Americans are optimists. Indeed, the key driver behind both Trump's and Sanders' support is optimism on a single question: is there any point in voting anymore? I've met many Sanders supporters, and even a few Trump supporters, whose loyalty to one of these two men is unshakable largely because they find the alternative -- voting for a blind continuation of a national disgrace, i.e. Congress -- not just unpalatable but an offense to their intelligence. And while I could never vote for someone with the personality or personal and policy positions of Donald Trump, the one thing I do understand about his voters is that they like Trump because, at least on one major point, he doesn't insult their intelligence. His very candidacy is mathematical proof that Washington is irrevocably broken, and with every offensive utterance and harrowing affront to the basic dignity of civil service he confirms his voters' view that D.C. deserves not a mote more than someone like him -- that is, a non-politician who clearly will bring to Washington (in the view of the Trumpets) the paradox of generative destruction.
Meanwhile, the national media, both Clintonian and conservative, spread the canard that "socialism" is what was practiced in the U.S.S.R. prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and that therefore Sanders' younger voters embrace his ideology only because they don't know any better. Those who think the Soviets were socialists, or even Marxists, simply because they'd slotted the former word into their national acronym as a matter of political propaganda, should do their homework: Democratic Socialism simply empowers democratic societies to decide, via free and fair elections, which basic human services should be rights rather than privileges. The civilized world says healthcare and higher education should be basic human rights, and Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism is no more than a request that we as a nation take a vote (November appears free) on whether or not we'd like to join the rest of humanity in a commonsense view of human dignity or remain the cast and crew of a B Western.
I've been to Norway. And Sweden. And Denmark. And the Netherlands. They were the most beautiful, functioning, and generally pleasant places I've ever been in my life. And all the data about which countries have their act together -- generally and as to the specifics of daily living -- confirm that impression. Meanwhile, our Congress has an approval rating lower than head lice. And Clinton is selling a "double-down" every bit as unappetizing as the one they used to sell at KFC.
No thank you.
Unless, of course, Hillary can give this prospective Clinton voter even the smallest sign that "getting things done in Washington" is not merely code for "more head lice."
Or more Nickelback.
All of these being things that America likes much more than what Hillary Clinton -- and Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, and John Kasich -- are trying to sell us.
Seth Abramson is the Series Editor for Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan University) and the author, most recently, of DATA (BlazeVOX, 2016).