Watching the Democratic Debate: Fear vs. Anger

Debate (1 of 1)I am a pragmatist and I think that the best we can do in the current climate is to prevent backsliding and hope for some small incremental gains. from a post on facebook by a Hillary Clinton supporter

Watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders going at it during the debate in Milwaukee, I was taken by the huge difference in their underlying energetics, for lack of a better word (humm, maybe underlying emotion would be better). As an aside, I just recently realized that both Trump and Sanders say huge in the same way, yuuge, and they both say it alot, end aside. Of course, both Clinton and Sanders preach hope but the stronger message from Clinton is fear and from Sanders it is anger. From that base, their solutions are radically different: Clinton says, in effect, Don’t reach for the brass ring,  you’ll fall off the horse and Sanders, in effect, says You won’t get the brass ring if you don’t reach for it.

If you’re worldview is fear based, we should not make promises we can’t keep, because that will further, I think, alienate Americans, Hillary is the logical choice. If your worldview is anger based, what has happened is, I think, the American people have responded to a series of basic truths, and that is that we have today a campaign finance system which is corrupt, Bernie is for you. I understand that it is way more complicated than that, still I think each is supported by a different bedrock.

Through a fear anger lens, it is easier for me to understand why Sanders is polling better with young people and Hillary with old people. I’m an old person, I am now closer to 76 than 75, and – in many ways – I am an anomaly, but where I join my age group is in our concern with what we can’t do, from running up a sand dune to driving all night to go skiing. Young people don’t carry that concern, that sense of limitations, or at least not as much. What young people do carry more than most old people is anger. Yes, there are lots of angry old people – and Bernie is one of them – but that anger is usually attached to resignation and young people haven’t learned resignation yet. I’m getting nervous that this is sounding more negative than I feel and I want to put in a disclaimer, I don’t think of fear and anger as bad motivators.

In addition, Hillary presents herself as an accomplished technocrat who wants to be president, I’ve come forward with, for example, a plan to revitalize coal country, the coalfield communities that have been so hard hit by the changing economy….I think I’m the most qualified, experienced, and ready person to be the president and the commander in-chief. I am sort of fascinated that Hillary would use the same strategy that failed her against Obama. When I was a carpenter, there was an expression that I often heard, If it doesn’t fit, get a bigger hammer. and that seems to be Hillary’s modus operandi, she lost to Obama not because of her message but because she didn’t have enough money, the problems we have in Syria and Libya are not that we shouldn’t have gone there but that we haven’t gone in hard enough. When the primary numbers started to turn against her in the Obama campaign, Hillary just lowered her head and worked harder. Her main strength is her tenaciousness.

Bernie, on the other hand, presents himself as a candidate who thinks about the big picture, in Libya, for example, the United States, Secretary Clinton, as Secretary of State, working with some other countries, did get rid of a terrible dictator named Gadhafi. But what happened is a political vacuum developed. ISIS came in, and now occupies significant territory in Libya….Judgment matters as well. And she and I looked at the same evidence coming from the Bush administration regarding Iraq. I led the opposition against it. She voted for it. Bernie doesn’t get bogged down in details and when asked How are going to make this work? his answers are usually vague and often tangential, wandering back to Income Inequality. Counter-intuitively, that is Bernie’s strength: he has a theme to his campaign, he has a reason to be president, and it makes him feel authentic. Bernie gives off a hard to pin down vibe. I don’t think he started off expecting to win as much as to influence the election, and he doesn’t have as much to lose. Now he is in a place he didn’t expect to be and the question is, At 74, can he grow into this new role?


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