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The Uncivil Servant: The Candidate We Deserve

Mitchell Abidor
December 3, 2015

by Mitchell Abidor

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 21: Hillary Clinton attends the 2013 Greenbuild Conference November 21, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bill McCay/WireImage)

We were discussing politics, my wife and I, and I said, “Who knows, maybe it’ll be Trump against Bernie in the general election, and we’ll see which way America chooses to go when presented with the clear choice between decency and vileness.” Joan said she wouldn’t want to see that choice presented, so I told her that she clearly supports Clinton, since a Bernie supporter would say: We want Bernie to be the candidate, which means we want him to face whoever the Republicans throw at him.

The conversation has stuck with me and has consistently sent a chill down my spine. Trump’s staying power, and his increasingly fascistic turn (fascism American-style, not German or Italian) has been cause for fright. But even if it’s not Trump against Bernie, but Cruz or Rubio — or, indeed, any of the spider monkeys with opposable thumbs on the Republican side — the prospect is horrific. Can anyone who knows America, who knows how liable to cowardice, racism, and meanness America is as a nation, think it has the decency to elect a Bernie Sanders? To ask the question is to answer it. Bernie is a candidate who has refused to set up a Super PAC, who has refused to engage in personal attacks, who has principles and stands by them. Is this a candidate for the America we know? Is our country capable of understanding such things as justice and fairness, which Bernie stands for and has fought for all his life?

A COUNTRY WHERE a candidate for president can applaud a black man being attacked at one of his rallies and still be leading in the polls is not a country to be trusted with such a choice.

There is really only one Democrat who fits the American bill, a candidate who has demonstrated intelligence and lack of a moral compass. Someone ready to launch military attacks, appealing to yet another of America’s ugliest traits, and who plays so fast and loose with words that they define themselves as a “progressive.”

So although I will forever think Bernie is the best candidate of my lifetime, I’ve realized that it’s impossible to view America with as jaundiced — as realistic — an eye as I do and still want him to be the candidate. Can we risk Trump’s police state, or evil in its purest form (outside of Dick Cheney) with Cruz, if the voters in flyover country had to make a decision between Bernie and one of them? Clearly not.

NOW, IT CAN BE SAID that for the Republican base, there’s no difference between Clinton and Bernie: both are crypto-Communists who should be driven from our shores, so standing by Bernie is fine. But there are sentient beings in flyover country, and they shy away from Bernie but not from Clinton. And since African-Americans, for some unfathomable reason, still think Clinton is their candidate, Bernie’s presence at the top of the ticket wouldn’t inspire them to come out, leaving the election in the hands of deeply committed reactionary boobs.

This isn’t really a recantation of anything I’ve previously written here. Or perhaps it is. America gets the candidates and elected officials it deserves. It deserves Hillary Clinton.

Mitchell Abidor, our contributing writer, is the recipient of a Hemingway Grant from the French Ministry of Culture for his new translation of Emmanuel Bove’s A Raskolnikoff. His other new book is Voices of the Paris Commune.

Mitchell Abidor, a contributing writer to Jewish Currents, is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn. Among his books are a translation of Victor Serge’s Notebooks 1936-1947, May Made Me: An Oral History of My 1968 in France, and I’ll Forget it When I Die, a history of the Bisbee Deportation of 1917. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Liberties, Dissent, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications.