Among the many frustrating qualities of Bernie Sanders’s supporters, none are more pernicious than the repeated cliché that he is perfect — or even preferable to his rival in the Democratic primary for president, Hillary Clinton — because of his never-changing positions.
Find a Bernie Bro, any of those rowdy, sententious young men of which I so disparagingly speak with regularity, and the phenomenon will be on full display. The Bros allege Sanders has always been a proud supporter of same-sex marriage (he wasn’t), and denigrated Clinton as a political turncoat of the worst kind for changing her tune on the issue.
On other topics, though, the Bros have a better claim in pointing out Clinton’s supposed inconsistence or mendacity. She supported the Iraq War (and paid dearly for it, already losing one Democratic primary because of the issue), but is now against similarly dunderheaded excursions into the Middle East. She has been supportive of free trade agreements in the past, but now opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one such agreement. Sanders, on the other hand, has always been against both, as the Bros never tire of pointing out.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I actually find these shifts to be a strength for Clinton.
Today’s age is one in which the virtues of ambiguity, humility and contrition have been ingloriously defenestrated. We are sure of everything, cocky even, and admitting to being wrong is a cardinal sin. We demand perfection.
I have seen one of these Bros contend, hopefully tongue-in-cheek, that Sanders has been right on everything in the last thirty years. Judging from Sanders’s snipes at Democratic debates, I think the junior senator from Vermont shares some of that sentiment.
The astounding ego behind said sentiment is almost comical. The cliché might be that history repeats itself, but the challenges facing the Leader of the Free World on a daily basis are often unprecedented.
Clinton is not perfect. Not even close. I like that. It reminds me of myself. I have made mistakes, a plethora of them, last year and last week, to say the least. I recognize my errors, and it makes me a better person. It makes her one too.
Hillary Clinton has apologized for using a private email server, for voting for the Iraq War and for defending the controversial crime bill her husband heralded as president. Bill Clinton, for his part, also apologized to the NAACP last year for that bill and the resulting culture of mass incarceration. He’s also said sorry for a rather infamous indiscretion.
I want humility in the White House. I want the pragmatism and alacrity that only come together when admitting a mistake and moving on to fix the problem with a wise mind.
Never have I seen Sanders do that. Often have I seen Clinton do it. A lot of people might think that is a reason to vote against her. On the contrary, it is a reason of my unwavering support for her.
Horwitz is a government senior from Houston. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.