My role in representing the left on Fox News can sometimes feel like David versus Goliath, but in heels.
It’s always welcome when I get a tweet or two that doesn’t involve “#Dumbacrat” and it’s especially heartening when one of two things happen: a conservative reaches out to let me know that I’ve let a little liberal light into their lives, or when fellow liberals are watching Fox because they know that without understanding the other side we will collectively get nowhere.
But the reality is that as clear a divide as exists between left and right, there is an equal schism within the left amongst those vying for the Democrat nomination.
That is precisely what we saw on stage in South Carolina Sunday night.
Fundamentally, the question is do we see a visionary or absurdist in Bernie Sanders? And do we see an experienced leader or sell-out in Hillary Clinton?
In a widely praised final State of the Union address, President Obama discussed his primary regret as being that he was unable to fix the partisanship that has been plaguing Washington. This theme was echoed in Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s rebuttal. It’s clear that both sides see partisanship as a serious issue that is holding our nation back.
And this is ultimately the reason why a political revolution won’t save us – from the left or the right. The system just isn’t built that way.
No one challenges Bernie Sanders’s authenticity, but there is a very real challenge in getting a candidate elected whose vision is so extreme.
Single payer health care – a policy that Hillary Clinton has long championed herself – could not even get passed with a Democratically-controlled House and Senate and a strong Democrat in the White House. The unabashed demonization of the financial services and pharmaceutical industries alienates key drivers of the American economy. Tuition free college sounds amazing – especially as someone who spent way too long in graduate school – but even with a plan to pay for it through raising taxes, it’s a fantasy.
Bernie’s vision is compelling. On Sunday night he showed his usual passion and ability to evolve: he has modified his position and now thinks that gun manufacturers can be held responsible in certain cases and he clearly takes the threat of ISIS seriously, something that has been questioned in the past.
But a compelling vision doesn’t necessarily translate into success in governing a divided populace.
This is where Hillary’s strength lies.
She offers the feasible version of Bernie’s political revolution. We should build on the Affordable Care Act, not replace it. We should be dedicated to making higher education more affordable and accessible, but not promising schemes that will never be turned into law. And she leads her Iran policy with the maxim “distrust but verify,” an embodiment of her muscular approach to foreign policy.
I return to the ACA to most clearly show why Hillary is the one who understands the liberal agenda and how to get things done. On stage in Charleston Sunday night, she recognized that we accomplished a historic milestone for social progress and the imprudence of scrapping it with a hostile congress and a country that is fatigued of the issue. The answer to this isn’t “single payer or bust.” To Bernie that doesn’t seem to matter. And that’s where Bernie’s political revolution fails us.
Pragmatism doesn’t mean that there isn’t boldness and a big heart in her own vision. When she spoke of a lifetime of public service fighting for women’s equality, children and a better life for the middle class she means it. And her record shows that.
So the answer to the question of whether Hillary is a pragmatist or a sell out is that she’s a woman who understands that the prospects for improving the lives of everyday Americans hinges on the ability to champion solutions that those on the right will at least consider.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Bernie Sanders’s vision for America. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is who can we nominate that can win an election and govern in a way that makes progress certain, albeit slow. #ImWithHer.