Do you know what this primary election season reminds me of more than anything else? My love life. Or rather, my former, twentysomething love life. The one I fell for hardest was the boyfriend who recited poetry, took me to wonderful restaurants, danced me down the sidewalk and described a shared future filled with red wine and literature. When I was with him, I simply melted.
Then there was the serious law student who certainly didn’t recite poetry or dance and who also spent most of his waking hours in the library. He worked at corporate law firms in New York City and was so focused that my friends told me they liked “the other one” better.
I did, too, but there was a problem. Because despite all the talk of our beautiful shared future, he dropped me soon after our first little relationship crisis. Whereas the second one, for all his lack of rhapsodizing, I actually trusted. Then I fell in love with him. Then I married him. That was some 30 years ago.
I realize that the comparison between my former romantic choices and my current political ones are not an exact parallel: Bernie, for example, has asked me to go the distance with him. And Hillary, though she, too, was once a serious young law student, is not someone I could ever be in love with—in fact, I don’t have a single warm-fuzzy for her. But where the analogy holds up is in language itself, in the power of rhetoric and a vision of the future.
Bernie makes my heart throb. Wall Street greed has run amok. Citizen United is a disaster. Super PACs are evil. The rich need to start paying their fair share of the tax burden. Look, I saw The Big Short. It’s nuts out there, a giant rigged poker game. Duh.
“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern,” he says. Oops, that wasn’t actually Bernie. (It was Proverbs.) But Bernie’s “Injustice is rampant” is almost as good.
And what does Hillary say about all this? How does she inspire me to envision a better future? She doesn’t. Instead, she says stuff like: “What we have to do…is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.” And the equally thudding: “I have a million ideas. The country can’t afford them all.” Not to mention the policy wonking, the record and the sucking-up-to-Wall Street money.
On the other hand, like my husband, she seems perfectly willing to live in a messy, imperfect reality. And able to thrive in it. She has boatloads of hands-on experience and has gone through plenty of deal making, compromising and arm-twisting.
Should I take my marital metaphor all the way home? O.K. As for the kids…
Without a doubt, Bernie will get up in the middle of the night and diaper the baby, and he may even sing lullabies. But when they get older, will he be able to discipline them, to scare their bratty adolescent willful selves? I can’t see it.
Hillary, on the other hand, would likely have no problem taking away Facebook and Snapchat privileges when necessary.
You see how conflicted I am, but in the end, as much as my heart yearns for Bernie, my head knows that, in the long run, Hillary can go the distance with me. And deal with the kids, too.