A dilemma: Clinton vs. Sanders

A dilemma: Clinton vs. Sanders

Presidential primary season opened Feb. 1, 2016, with the Iowa Caucuses. Both Democrats and Republicans will vote for their respective favorites to be on general election ballots in November.

I’m torn.

It is a given that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could step into the Presidency on day one; she is super experienced and “wicked smart,” to quote President Obama from a recent TV interview, and it would seem fair to have a woman for president.

On the other hand, Senator Bernie Sanders would likely be able to step into the presidency, if not on day one, then on day two, because he is also brilliant. Not to mention he’d be our first president of Jewish descent.

Yet, I see a clear – and concerning – difference in existential positions between the two candidates, with regard to free or low cost college education and universal health insurance.

Secretary Clinton takes the position that universal health care isn’t going to happen, and so believes Senator Sanders is being “unrealistic.” It’s understandable that she holds that belief because she worked her heart out in the 90’s to institute universal health care and, for her husband’s administration, it didn’t happen.

In addition, she witnessed President Obama in his first term struggling against an intransigent, even hateful, Republican congress in order to bring about the Affordable Care Act – legislation that fell short of universal health care.

Sanders simply says (to paraphrase) we should have Medicare for all. He says it must happen. And it can happen.

Let me hasten to say here that, ultimately, any of the three presidential candidates from the Democratic Party would be monumentally preferable to those people running as Republicans.

So here’s my question: do I want a president who seems resigned to not getting 100% of what we, the people, need? Or do I want a president who is willing to struggle for 100% of what is totally rational and necessary?

Interestingly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – a long held agreement published by The United Nations says all human beings are entitled to health care and to education without barriers.

Here are a few quick excerpts from the UDHR.

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control….

“Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit….”

The astronomically wealthy United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not provide universal health care. Even many Third World countries provide universal health care to all their citizens. What is wrong with this picture?

One of the greatest concepts I’ve learned is the idea of the self-fulfilling prophesy. People who believe they will fail, usually fail. People who believe there is an elegant solution for every problem will, eventually, see that problem solved.

Sometimes, what folks call “realistic” isn’t entirely rational. And sometimes, when folks tell you that a person is “foolishly idealistic” what they’re really expressing is how they’ve been disappointed and hurt.

So, maybe I’m not so torn, after all.