So I see from Twitter that some genius has gone on Zillow and found my house. I think this must’ve happened in response to something I said on the Stephanie Miller radio show on Wednesday, discussing my last column, about how some people can afford to cast votes around their hopes and dreams while others vote to protect rights and gains that the other side wants to take away from them.
I don’t recall my exact words, but they were something to the effect that that idiot Susan Sarandon’s life isn’t going to change one way or the other no matter who’s president, and for that matter, neither is mine, not that I’m rich, but I make a good living, so my life won’t change, yadda yadda, which I suppose is what put the wheel in spin. So now people who want to know such things know what I paid for my house, and yeah, it’s kind of a lot, this being suburban Washington, D.C., and I guess the point is supposed to be that I’m an out-of-touch elitist or something, just the kind of sellout you’d expect to support Hillary over Bernie.
So I have a nice house. So what? I earned it. I didn’t inherit much. Dad made a lot of money, but he lost a lot, too, always trying to outsmart the market. And he made a hell of a lot less than he could have. His funeral was like George Bailey’s funeral—I lost count of the number of grown men who came up to me crying, telling me about the mountains of legal work Dad had done for them over the years for free.
I mention my father because he’s the one who taught me that people like us don’t vote our self-interest. We’re going to be fine. So I listened to him. I don’t vote my self-interest. I vote the interests of people with houses that cost a quarter of what mine cost. If I wanted to vote according to my naked self-interest, I’d vote Republican. They’ll give me a nice tax cut. No thanks. Don’t want it.
So I vote for other people’s interests. The kinds of interests I wrote about the other day—economic welfare, of course, but voting rights, rights for immigrants, all the rest. The things the Republican Party wants to yank away from people. And you know what? I actually just think that Hillary Clinton will do a better job of defending those interests than Bernie Sanders will. Nobody makes me say that. Chelsea isn’t sending me secret messages. I just think it.
How can that possibly be? It is true that Clinton is too much an incrementalist and centrist for my tastes. She’s gotten a lot of things wrong—the Iraq vote, those speeches and all that lucre, way more money that any normal person needs to have. And yet, I also think two other things. She’s tough as steel; and she might turn out to be good at persuading the Republicans to deal.
Can anyone seriously doubt the first point? For a quarter-century, she’s been called everything you can call a person. They wanted to finish her. Put her in jail. Still do. And this wasn’t because she did anything wrong. Jill Abramson got it right this week: Clinton is fundamentally not corrupt. So it wasn’t that. Rather, it was because to the hard right, she was just too aggressive for a woman. But you can’t destroy a person for that, so you have to find something else.
But she’s endured all of it and stayed in the game. And no, it’s not because she’s power-mad, another well-worn right-wing (and seriously sexist) trope. She’s in it for mostly the right reasons—and because she doesn’t want to let the people trying to destroy her have her scalp, which is a damn good reason on its own.
As for my second point, we have her record as a senator to look back on. True, neither she nor Sanders did much in terms of legislation, but legislation is an overrated part of what a senator does. From what I’m told from senators I know, she’s a better kibbitzer, especially with Republicans. Remember—what do I mean, remember? You don’t even know this!—she went into the Senate with the then-Republican leader wishing her dead (kinda jokingly but kinda not) and harrumphing that in the event that she did survive, she would surely be put in her place. Within a year, many of them loved her.
Yeah, I know. To some of you, more evidence of her hackery. But maybe it’s just evidence that she’s a person whose word is good and who is someone to be taken seriously. So maybe she can sit down with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and horse-trade her way to a paid family leave bill. That one thing would make life dramatically better for millions.
And I think it’s one more thing than Sanders would pass. As for my two criteria applied to him, let’s have a look. One, we don’t know if he’s tough. Yeah, he’s originally from Brooklyn. But Vermont isn’t exactly Cook County. And as for horse-trading, he doesn’t talk as if it interests him very much, but if you’re going to be a successful president, it has to.
It has to interest you because millions of people are counting on you to do something to help them. Not people like me. My needs from the state are few. I’m for the person who I think will do more for people whose needs from the state are great. On paper, I probably agree with Sanders as much as I do with Clinton. But politics isn’t about having one’s own views reflected back to one.
And a people’s revolution that can be blocked by a mere 41 senators, which the Republicans will never not have, is going to fail and disappoint.