Is Hillary Clinton Still a Democrat?

Seeing today’s debate in the blogosphere helps point out why I am an independent and not a Democrat. While it is hard to imagine voting for the Republicans since their move to the extreme right, I am unwilling to consider myself a Democrat. The Democrats are preferable to the Republicans, and have far more candidates I would consider voting for. The difference is that, while presumably a Democrat feels obligated to eventually rally around their party’s nominee, I will only vote for a Democrat if I find them to be acceptable. In 1992 I considered Paul Tsongas but would not vote for “Slick Willie,” a man I did not feel had the character to be president. My judgment on that matter was certainly verified. It is even less likely I would vote for Hillary Clinton after seeing how dishonest she has been during the current campaign.

Many bloggers who identify themselves as Democrats are facing a dilemma with regards to Hillary Clinton. Clinton has many of the characteristics which I and other liberal bloggers have opposed in the Republicans. This includes conservative views on social issues, civil liberties issues, and foreign policy, and the adoption of dishonest tactics more generally associated with Republicans such as Karl Rove and Lee Atwater. For myself there is no dilemma here. As an independent the logical course of action would be to refrain from voting for Hillary Clinton since I disagree with her on most issues and I find her to be too dishonest to be acceptable as a president.

Bloggers whose identity includes being a Democrat are faced with a dilemma. They feel that they should vote for the candidate of the Democratic Party, but also are realizing that Clinton does not represent the reasons why they are Democrats. Someone commenting at Daily Kos wrote:

At some point the concept of “Republicans will do X” has turned into a license for Hillary to do all the same things. It’s bizarre, but I don’t really consider her a Dem any more.

Markos promoted the comment to a main post with approval of the statement, leading to protests from partisans such as Big Tent Democrat. His post is centered around the concept of unifying the party. If party unity is the goal, then there is a certain logic in opposing such criticism of a potential nominee under the belief that party members should support the party, regardless of what it comes to represent. For those of us who are concerned with principles first, then this sentiment of not considering Clinton a Democrat makes perfect sense.

While understandable, obviously this statement is technically incorrect. Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, even if she behaves more like a Republican and is on the wrong side of so many issues. Presumably what Kos and the original author are getting at is the problem that, although a Democrat in name, Hillary Clinton does not represent the principles which have led them to consider themselves Democrats. They are realizing that, after criticizing the Bush administration for years, they cannot in good conscience support a Democrat who has many of the same faults as George Bush.

While it would be simpler to declare that Clinton is not a Democrat, in reality they do not have that choice. Liberals will have to decide whether they will ultimately support someone based upon party label, even if her views and conduct are contrary to our principles, or reserve their support for candidates who are deserving of support. As an independent, there is no difficulty in refraining from supporting the nominee of the Democratic Party, but those who identify themselves as Democrats will have a harder decision to make. Fortunately this is a dilemma which we will probaby not have to face, considering how Obama’s lead is growing and Clinton is unlikely to receive the nomination.

The real question for those who stress party unity is how they can tolerate someone like Clinton who practices a Tonya Harding strategy and reduces the chances that Barack Obama will win. Rather than blindly defending the dishonest tactics and flawed policy positions of Hillary Clinton, it would make far more sense to unify around Obama at this point. Not only is Obama the candidate with a far better chance of winning the nomination, he also represents the values which have led many to support the Democratic Party, as well as having the support from many independents whose votes the Democrats would otherwise lose. Allowing Hillary Clinton to proceed with her dirty campaign reduces the chances that a Democrat will win in November, and also increases the chances that we will not have a real choice in the unlikely event that she manages to win the nomination.

Some who are supporting Big Tent Democrat over Kos in this dispute are calling those who oppose Clinton supporters of a small tent. That is just one more item in a long list of absurdities from the Clinton camp. The true small tent is the Clinton tent, limited to only hard core Democrats who care more about the party label than principles. This is the Democratic Party which has been a minority party. It is Obama who represents the true big tent as he is showing he can build a new majority based upon liberal principles which includes both many principled Democrats as well as independents.

Update: Another post worth reading on this controversy is at Booman Tribune. He doesn’t appear to object to Clinton’s policy positions as I do, but expresses similar views with respect to her “starting to resemble a Republican is in her campaign rhetoric and tactics.” He also stresses the foolishness of supporting such efforts from a candidate who will probably lose which damage the probable winner of the Democratic nomination.

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  1. 1
    absent observer says:

    I can’t wait until the general election, so Obama can dispel all the Swift Boaters with his phrase “political silly season.” Dusting the dirt off his shoulders was also a great move. Itching his face with his middle finger when speaking of Hillary’s behavior at the “debate” was plausibly deniable, but classic nonetheless.

  2. 2
    Lex says:

    Excellent post, Ron. Indeed, it is good to be an independent for exactly the reasons you outlined. There has never been any issue for me; i knew that i wouldn’t vote for Clinton when she was still inevitable.

    Party discipline, in the long-term, can be quite damaging to the party. I know more than a handful of conservative voters who did what the Republicans asked: they voted for Bush. It was an act that was against their better judgment, but party discipline required it. Now they are fed up with not just Bush, but also the Republican Party.

    The biggest laugh that i share with my conservative friends is what so many Democrats are finding out about the Clintons now…or deciding not to ignore any longer.

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