Favorite

Bernie Sanders: forever young 

click to enlarge bernie_sanders_portrait_3.jpg

I found myself Saturday in a nest of youthful Bernie Sanders fans explaining why I preferred Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential nominating race.

The occasion was a birthday party at my house for Shem Ngwira, a 25-year-old Clinton School of Public Service student from Malawi. Shem's father works on the Clinton Foundation's agricultural project in Malawi, meant to improve the lot of small farmers with sustainable soybean production. My daughter got to know him during her work on the Clinton Foundation agricultural and health (anti-HIV) projects in Malawi and we're pleased to have the chance to return his hospitality.

Shem's a sunny, bright young man who hopes to work in community organizations and maybe find a future in politics in his home country. He hopes fervently to meet the namesake of his graduate school to ask for advice. About 30 of his classmates joined us for barbecue and birthday cake. What an impressive lot they were — hailing from places as diverse as Pine Bluff, Wyoming and Italy.

I didn't systematically sample the opinion of all of them, but I got engaged with several, after the Razorback game went south, in a discussion of politics. I heard strong enthusiasm among the young people for 74-year-old Bernie Sanders and some surprise that I didn't wholly share the enthusiasm.

It was pragmatism at work, I said. It is impossible for me to believe — once the Republican machine got done with him, for sure — that the U.S. would elect a socialist as president. Sanders' brand of socialism is fine by me, by the way. If government can subsidize the wealthy, I don't see why it can't have a simple and efficient single-payer health insurance system for everyone, rich and poor.

I couldn't help but feel a bit of irony in defending Hillary Clinton — beginning with her work ethic, intellect and backbone — to a group of students committed to public service and learning how to do it at a school that owes its existence to Bill Clinton's presidency. But I admired their idealism, a road many have been down before.

Remember Eugene McCarthy and his anti-war candidacy in 1968 that undid Lyndon Johnson? New Hampshire looms as a similarly punishing experience for Hillary Clinton almost half a century later.

I bitterly recall Florida in 2000, when committed idealists stuck with Ralph Nader in numbers sufficient to provide the margin that defeated Al Gore (along with suspect ballot counting).

The Republican-manufactured email controversy threatens Clinton more than youthful idealism, of course. But whatever reluctance I heard Saturday night about backing Clinton had little to do with email servers. It was more about enthusiasm for Sanders. Clinton's evolution on some core progressive issues — or flip-flopping if you prefer — drew more comments. Sanders frames this as a "consistency" problem for Hillary. Sanders has shown a recognition of political realities himself lately. No advocate of gun control, he's recently said past pro-gun votes might be due for reconsideration. And he's emphasizing that he's not a socialist, but a "Democratic socialist," in the manner of Denmark and Sweden, places with universal health care, free college education and high wages.

Several young Clinton Schoolers clearly had the burn for the Yankee all the same. I don't, but I confessed to being influenced by years of both some personal association and Clinton's work as teacher, mother, first lady, lawyer, senator and secretary of state. I said, too, that I had felt a similar distance from the young people's flavor of the day in 2008, Barack Obama. Funny that many of the idealists of 2008 have cooled on a man who has more than lived up to the presidency, in part because of tough decisions to put philosophical purity aside at times for pragmatism.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton

Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Caution: government at work

    I have several government targets this week.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Cotton to CIA?

    Political junkies without a real election to overanalyze fill the void with "what if?" scenarios. With the State Fair underway, consider this column a helping of cotton candy for such readers.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • As to the AR Chamber of Commerce-DO NOT FORGET it supports passage of SJR8, which…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • Freedom from fear is a human right.

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation