Why I’ll vote for HRC against McCain if it comes to that

Most of the reasons to prefer Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton are also reasons to prefer Hillary Clinton to John McCain. Let’s not bluff.

Since my short-lived cease-fire in the War on Billary has … well, ceased … I’ve had several emails along the lines of “Hit ’em again, harder! If Clinton is the nominee, I’m voting for McCain/voting Green/staying home/voting but not working or giving.”

Far be it from me to attempt to dictate to my readers, but if those are your views please don’t imagine that you’re agreeing with me.

My Rage Against the (Clinton) Machine has to do largely with the risk it poses to the project of recapturing the machinery of the Federal government from the forces of the Second Gilded Age, and secondarily with my belief that Billary is (are?) loyal to Billary rather than to the Democrats as a party or liberals as a movement and my belief that in some ways Billary resembles and participates in Gilded-Age politics.

But from that perspective, while Billary is distinctly a second-best to Obama, Billary is a thousand times better than McCain.

What we have to fear from another Clinton Presidency is that it would be lukewarm or ineffective at making change in a liberal direction: lukewarm on topics such as torture, criminal-justice reform, rethinking foreign policy, cutting back on secrecy and excessive executive power, and reducing the power of lobbyists, media barons, and union-busting consultants; ineffective on those and other topics due to smaller majorities due to shorter or negative coat-tails and a smaller mandate.

The best we have to hope for from a McCain Presidency is that it would be lukewarm or ineffective at continuing not only the politics and policies of Gilded Age but also the imperialist project of re-establishing a unipolar world with the US as the sole pole, maintaining its dominance largely by projecting military power, and the social-conservative agenda of enshrining fundamentalist Christianity in public policy and paying for it out of public finds. And yet there seems to be no good reason to have much hope. For example, electing McCain would ensure the domination of the Supreme Court by the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts-Alito wing for the rest of my political lifetime.

So all of the reasons I prefer Obama to Billary lead me to prefer Billary to McCain. That being true, though I’d like the superdelegates to fear that Obama supporters might stay home or vote Republican in November if HRC gets the nomination, I see no coherent way of threatening such behavior myself. If a pollster called tomorrow, I’d probably tell a fib to make Hillary look like a worse bet against McCain, but where my voice has a name attached to it I’m not going to bluff an action I wouldn’t want to execute.

Instead, I will, and hope my readers will, say long and loud right now that we intend to vote for Clinton, campaign for Clinton, and give money to Clinton if she becomes the nominee. Our loyalty to the Democratic Party and to the liberal interest, contrasted with Billary’s gross disloyalty, might even earn our candidate some votes. “In war and politics, take the high ground.” And it might make it easier, in the likely event that Obama is the nominee, got persuade Billary fans to rally ’round the flag. But whether it does or not, it seems to me that we are logically stuck with that position, and shouldn’t try to wriggle out of it.

Think of it this way:

Clothespin for nose: 25 cents.

Campaign contribution: somewhere between $5 and $2300.

Keeping the next Federalist Society member off the Supreme Court: priceless.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com