Friday, April 15, 2016

Clinton vs. Sanders


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

April 15, 2016


                Last night I watched the debate on CNN between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and have listened to follow-up.  The debate caused me, on peacemaking principle, to favor, even admire, Hillary Clinton for President.  Crucial to me, a criminologist, is that she has acknowledged that she made a mistake supporting her husband’s war on crime, focusing on the black and brown “super-predators.”

                Bernie Sanders, whom I admire, cites that as a disqualification of her to hold office.  I see that Hillary Clinton acknowledges learning a fundamental policy lesson from experience.  Bernie Sanders highlights his unflinching commitment to the principles he keeps restating—on the results he will achieve.  H. Clinton highlights concrete initiatives she will undertake, after considerable advice, with her political options open as she moves toward, for example, reducing mass incarceration.  Readers will know that my measure of peacemaking is the capacity of parties to conflict (the stuff of politics) to shift course to accommodate what they learn from experience, from what hasn’t worked and what will work better, from experience and from one another, as in mediation.

                Peacemaking is to me a transformation of “violence,” which I define as being hell-bent and focused on achieving substantive goals without shifting course to respond to people who are being adversely affected by one’s course of action.  Peace is made as holders of power over others especially acknowledge learning from experience and changing course.

                Bernie Sanders offers voters and convention delegates his a form of “integrity” that is measured in part by how attached a politician remains attached to substantive goals.  It seeks political supremacy—a triumph of power over those who associate with the wrong people.  The kind of integrity I prefer in those who hold power entails listening and learning from one’s mistakes.

                I admire Bernie Sanders especially for the way he mobilized the people of Burlington to bring “socialism,” as in the public land trusts for subsidized housing.  To me he is, historically speaking, an outstanding candidate for president, given his commitment to public service and government innovation, understandably refreshing and appealing in his plain-spoken statement of principles.  During last night’s debate, I came to recognize that Hillary Clinton is the rarer candidate who has both a wealth of experience and the “peacemaking attitude” I most value in us when we hold power over others: the willingness to listen and capacity to learn from experience of how one’s actions affect others, and change course compassionately.

                A disclaimer:  I will not register to vote in Ohio because that might oblige me to serve on criminal juries, a power to which I conscientiously object.  Jill and I are looking to move in several years to the town where I expect my son-in-law to be district attorney, meaning I will be obviously disqualified from criminal juries.  There I will register to vote.  It doesn’t keep me from trying to influence those who do vote here and now, as always.  Love and peace, hal

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