12 February 2008

Why I won't vote for Hillary in the general election

I've been wishy-washy about this in recent posts and comments. People get aggravated about the "Hillary haters" and eagerly point out the similarity in the policy platforms between Hillary and Obama. I have decided today, however, that if Hillary is the nominee of the Democratic Party I won't for her in the general election (don't worry, I won't vote for 'Bomb Iran', either).

The thing that bothers me most about the American political during my adult life has been the lack of integrity amongst politicians, exemplified by Karl Rove's destructive attacks on John McCain in 2000 and his swift-boating of John Kerry in 2004. I want my candidate to raise the level of discourse and set a standard for integrity for all of us. Hillary Clinton has consistently shown that she prefers political expediency to integrity, by making misleading statements about Barack Obama's comments on Ronald Reagan, and trying to impugn his strongest policy stance: his unwavering opposition to the war in Iraq (hat tip to Larry Lessig for these examples).

The bridge too far for me, though, is the issue of the Michigan and Florida delegates. On a New Hampshire Public Radio interview in October of last year, Hillary said the following:

"Well, you know, It's clear, this election they [Michiganders] are having is not going to count for anything"

She said this in the context of explaining that she had not taken her name off the Michigan ballot (as Senators Obama and Edwards did) at the behest of the DNC because she was worried that ignoring it would aggravate voters in the general election. In retrospect it is clear that in October she expected to sweep into the nomination, banishing the issue of the MI and FL delegates to the back page of the newspapers, and to gain a bump in those states in the general election because she did not ignore them in the primary. She went against the wishes of her own party (unlike her opponents) as part of a calculation regarding the general election. This by itself is slimy, but not unforgivable; I can appreciate her keeping one eye on the primary and the other on the general election.

Now, of course, she is locked in a delegate battle with Obama, and has quickly changed her tune:

"I think that the people of Michigan and Florida spoke in a very convincing way, that they want their voices and their votes to be heard."

This demonstrates unambiguously to me that political expediency is what matters most to Senator Clinton and her campaign. She won't even be honest about it and just point out that she wants to win; it has to be about having "voices heard", which is downright obscene, given that hers was the only top-tier name on the ballot in Michigan! It reminds me exactly of the anti-democratic, bloodthirsty way in which the 2000 campaign was decided, and it disgusts me.

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