Why I Voted for Clinton/Gore in '96

Laurie D. T. Mann

I'm not a party-oriented person. I want to elect people to office with backbone who can effect rational compromise and gradual change without pandering to special interest groups. I really want to be able to vote for more women candidates but there continue to be too few here in Pennsylvania. There are times when Clinton seems to be my kind of elected official, but there were other times when he just failed miserably (notably the gay rights issues, CDA, and health care reform). While the new welfare reform bill looks like it could be too hard on kids, some real welfare reform is desperately needed.

I lived in Massachusetts during the '80s and early '90s, and supported both Senator Kerry (a Democrat) and Governor Weld (a Republican). Now, they are running against one another for Kerry's Senate seat. Both men are intelligent, articute, reasonably independent, and not particularly corrupt. I think if I lived in Mass now, I'd vote for Weld over Kerry because the Senate needs more independant-minded Republicans than it needs Democrats. On the other hand, after hearing that Weld appointed John Silber, one of the most reprehensible people to ever get involved in Massachusetts politics, to the state education board...I had grave doubts that I could vote for Weld over Kerry.

So I'm not a "one party voter," but have tended to vote Democratic given my distaste of the Radical Right. My politics are probably closer to William Weld's than anyone else. I might have voted for Colin Powell if he turned ran as a moderate. I was a fairly enthusiastic Clinton supporter in '92, which marked the first time I'd ever voted for a winning presidential candidate. I am a lukewarm Clinton supporter given this time due to the lack of a viable challenger.

The government needs rational leadership. The Congress and the administration wimped out a few years back when they made extremely minor changes to future Social Security recipients. These changes for Social Security are not strong enough. Anyone born later than, say 1950 ought to plan now to not retire before the age of 70. However, merely changing the age of retirement is not adequate. There needs to be real leadership on "rethinking work and retirement." Perhaps people between the ages of 60 and 70 might be mentors and work 3/4 or 1/2 time, or half the year. We need honest leadership in this area. But, because SSI is viewed as "untouchable," very little happened. That means many Boomers could wind up destitute when they retire.

Part of "rethinking work" needs to be rethinking the way companies treat their employees. Increasingly, companies seem to think the only people who matter are the stockholders - the employees, customers and environment be damned. I've always felt that unions were an unneccessary anachronism until I experienced management problems at two different companies that probably wouldn't have happened if the employees had a union.

I'm very concerned about the potential chilling effect on the Internet that the current version of the CDA might have. I was extremely disappointed that Clinton signed the CDA, a bill that only helps large telecom companies while it potentially screws many Internet users. Yes, there are some disgusting and appalling things on the Internet, but I'd rather see reasonably free speech than restrictions.

I'm concerned about the backsliding Clinton has made over gay rights since 1993. I initially believed Clinton might be able to fix the "gays in the military" and "gay marriage" problems by common sense and hard work. But forcing the gays in the military to the front burner blindly ruined literally years of hard work people have been doing behind the scenes. And he ought to be very ashamed of his support of DOMA, one of the most appalling laws the Congress has come up with in a long time.

It sounds like Clinton is planning to sign the latest changes to welfare. Welfare needs to be fixed, but not on the backs on young children. Healthcare also desperately needs to be fixed, but not on the backs of poor people.

This essay may not sound like I'm much of a Clinton supporter, and my vote is more against Bob Dole than for Bill Clinton. Actually, I trust Clinton a little more than I trust Dole. Clinton has sold out some, but not completely. Dole has completely sold out. While Clinton has disappointed me, any politician is going to. Some of the mistakes Clinton has made were because he was trying very hard to do the right thing.

I want to urge people to take voting particularly seriously this year. Many Americans are turned off of politics, and I don't blame them. Remember that your vote matters for the future of this company. When people stay home in droves (especially back in the fall of '94), strange things have been known to happen. Let's not repeat that mistake.

I generally avoid getting involved in political discussions with relatives. I'm not quite as bad about this as my father, who seems to have a "don't ask/don't tell" policy, but I know my views are very different from my relatives and from my in-laws. As a believer in reasonable mutual co-existence, I ignore all but the most outrageous comments.

Recently, though, my relatives have been getting online increasingly, so I have been hearing from some of them about what I've written here. Here's my response to one of them about "Dole selling out:"

Actually, all politicians do. So has Clinton.

During the twelve years of Republican rule, the budget deficit tripled during a time when the Repulicans claimed they were trying to create a "smaller" government. At the same time, the influence of the religious right grew. I don't want to see this country become another Bosnia - I want this to be a country where people attempt to co-exist and respect one another. I don't see this attempt in many of today's Republicans, and Dole owes his potential election to a radical minority.

I worked for a Republican candidate for Congress in 1974. I have ancestors who were Republican state representatives in Vermont. I even supported George Bush in early 1980 when he still talked like a moderate (remember who invented the line "voodoo economics?" Turns out he was right!). I'm a big believer in the multi-party system. I'd love to be able to find a Republican candidate I can support. It's getting harder and harder to find one.

Also, as a feminist, I can't support a party that demonizes me. I have many gay friends, and I can't support a party that demonizes my friends. I have many Jewish friends, and I can't support a party that may attempt to make some form of Christianity the state religion.

PS from 2005: I've just registered as a Democrat. The Republican party has sunk to such depths over the last few years, that I'd rather not count myself as an Independent any more.