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The Iraq Vote: Why This Anti-War Activist Is Choosing Hillary

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/03/2016 Michelle Manning Barish

Since I write about politics, have been an activist for over a decade, and attack from both sides when necessary; people have been asking me who I am supporting. They have a hard time believing me when I say "I don't know."
I have been telling the truth, and I am not going to lie to you now. This is far from a "fluff" piece. I like both candidates for very different reasons, but it's time, for me to choose a side...and it's time for you to, also.
I really hope this causes you to consider your own voting position, and understand why what I am about to say matters so much to our party. Why you, especially if you felt like me, matter so much right now.
I post many articles on social media, and most of my followers consider themselves liberals. I am quite clearly, a progressive. I find it shocking how much vitriol is out there in some of the comments posted when I say something kind about Hillary Clinton. "How dare you, Michelle? Don't you remember marching in the streets with us while your little brother was in Iraq?" "Hillary is a liar!" "Hillary takes Super Pac money!" "What about the Patriot Act vote...twice!"
Let's just get it all out there, because you know what guys? You're right.
Then I will tell you why I chose her still.
Most Bernie supporters seem to really hate Hillary; Hillary supporters seem to think Bernie is a blowhard in fantasy land who will ruin the economy, over promise, and under deliver. We are a party divided. You can see that reflected in these almost too close to call contest results and caucuses. They are virtually split down the middle, and this frightens me. It shows that we are not all ideologically on the same page.
I love Bernie Sanders. I really do. In my heart, I'm going to tell you, that he was my pick.
I spent almost two hours walking with him in the Summer of 2014, discussing activism, family, politics, and just about everything else, during the Climate March here in New York City. I was up front alongside a dozen local and state representatives all shoving for camera space and attention. Their desperation for camera time was slightly pathetic, and so I decided to fall back and found myself alongside this older gentlemen standing next to me whom I mistook for a retired politician. I looked at him and said "I don't have sharp enough elbows, nor the desire to force my way up there" his response was "Don't worry about it, me neither, you're just fine here with me." No fanfare. He wasn't looking for press. He was kind, and brilliant, and you know what he did? He listened. He was the real deal. No security. No publicist. No staffers. Just a man walking alone. That man was Bernie Sanders.
Fast forward to today: Bernie Sanders is a political rock star, mostly among millennials! People pushing and shoving to get to Bernie...the man who refused to push and shove his way to the front.
People who naturally shine, attract...they don't have to chase. Bernie Sanders naturally shines. It is genuine, and it is real.
I believe that what Bernie is saying is not only important...it is critical in these times. I can see why people love him, because I do too. I loved him before he was running for anything, when he was happy falling back and really being present in the moment of why we were all truly supposed to be there. That is called authenticity, and it reads.
I love that he had the courage and the foresight to vote against the Iraq war.
You see, I knew the Iraq war was a mistake, and my little brother was about to be deployed there. He went and served for eighteen months straight. Eighteen months of agony for me and my family, praying everyday that the shameful war would end, praying that he and the rest of our servicemen and women would come back home safe, and alive. Mourning in my heart the names of every soldier listed in the tiny font box the New York Times printed everyday: name, age. The list of more dead Americans, buried on the third page.
This anger fueled my activism. I gave speeches. I spent my own money making videos. I organized. I hit the streets...repeatedly. Her Iraq vote, and the love for my country and brother, made me the activist I am today. I vowed to make whomever voted to send him there, pay.
And so, how can I forgive Hillary Clinton for voting for that war? For sending my own blood there to be put in harm's way...for absolutely no good reason at all?
Well, I have been trying to remove that knife from my back for the last few months; because I know that I must. I know that I must, and I am asking you to do the same. I am asking you to do the same for the sake of our country.
You may think that my decision to back Hillary Clinton is based in fear. I told you that I wouldn't lie, and so I'm not going to. Fear does factor in. Anyone who tells you otherwise...is lying or misinformed.
Bernie Sanders has my heart, and although he has been doing extraordinarily well, and still has plenty of races in front of him, I do not believe that he can win the general election, especially if he runs against Trump. This has become about electability.
He has served a very important purpose in this election, by forcing Hillary to move her positions more to the left. He was the one who started the critical conversation about income inequality, which if not addressed immediately will surely cause this great nation to suffer dire consequences. He energized the youth to come out and get involved in the process. He is a great movement builder. However, he will not win the general election. We are seeing that now with super delegates, and after Super Tuesday, I believe that Hillary Clinton will have secured her place as our Democratic nominee.
So why am I writing this? Well, I told you all of the reasons why I love Bernie Sanders, but there was a reason why I had remained undecided. It was not fear. I liked both candidates for very different reasons. Now it's Hillary's turn, and hopefully I can convince you too, to change your mind, and support her as well. We are counting on you, to keep a democrat in office. We simply have too much at stake.
Hillary has had a lifetime of experience in advocacy and politics. Now, I know that many of you, including myself, have felt pretty anti-establishment these days. That is not without good reason.
There's a reason why so many people are finding a reality game show contestant, with zero policy experience, multiple failed business deals, who intentionally panders to the angry and hate filled...so appealing. It isn't for his brain, zingers or former lingerie model bombshell wife.
People are tired of being lied to by politicians. I am too. But experience does count. It matters. We need a leader who can not only sit down and discuss foreign policy and know what she is talking about, but one who is respected and has had that seat at the table before, as Secretary of State, perhaps one of the most important political roles beneath the president himself.
When people are in roles of leadership, they win some, they lose some, but they have experience and a record. Not just ideas and rhetoric. They know what works and what doesn't. They know that sometimes they have to get their hands dirty and they know how to fight.
When you are faced with making many decisions, you aren't going to always be right. When you don't have anything important to decide on, or much at all, your averages of not making mistakes improves greatly, because you didn't have anything to decide on in the first place. These other candidates can shout their "positions" from the rooftops with conviction and great certainty, but until they have actually had to create policy or negotiate a treaty with a world leader...their words aren't worth anything. They are merely opinions and soundbites.
Hillary Clinton has had to make the tough decisions. I want someone tough sitting across the table from Vladimir Putin. I want someone who understands the economy to make decisions about Wall Street. I want someone who has always been a champion for Reproductive Rights, to fight hard, and not let the Republican party play the games they have played throughout the entire Obama presidency.
Maybe you feel that Hillary is too tough and too hard? Good. Guess what folks, we need that. Someone needs to whip our deadbeat Congress into shape. Someone needs to force the Senate to do their jobs and quit with the games. We need a tough leader who will get things done.
I believe that Hillary Clinton is tough enough to make the difficult choices, to fight hard for what we stand for as Democrats, and to be as unrelenting with fighting for us as she has been with her own career. This is a woman who has seen it all, suffered hardships, embarrassments, and keeps getting kicked in the teeth repeatedly, yet keeps getting back up.
Isn't that what we as Americans are all about? We get kicked, and we always get back up.
I want a president like that representing me.
She is a prize fighter, a scrapper, an unwavering leader who will stand up, and stand up, and stand up, and not let us fall. I know this, because I have watched her for decades now. People see her "toughness" and because she is a woman, it doesn't read well. I am saying that that is her greatest strength.
We can discuss where she stands on the issues, but they are quite similar to Mr. Sanders, only slightly more realistic as far as actually making them happen. If you are informed, you already know what they are.
I feel that she has a better plan for the economy and the banks than Mr. Sanders, a more clearly defined plan. I feel that she represents me well as a woman; fighting for Paid Family Leave, Reproductive Rights, Healthcare, the rights of children and their well being. I feel that she is a champion for civil rights, LGBT equality, our Black Lives That Matter very much, our veterans, the sick and the poor, and will continue to fight for those whose voices have gone unheard. I stand with Hillary on all of those things, and I truly hope, that a lesson was learned from the Iraq war.
I am asking her, as a military family member, to think through whatever decision she makes regarding use of military force as President. This is the single most important decision she will ever make. Our servicemen and women are our greatest resource, and that decision must be made with the highest level of integrity and intelligence. However, we must also be realistic. We live in a world now where North Korea is showing off their capabilities like a Fourth of July parade. Russia is a loose canon. Iran is a hornet's nest, and Israel must be protected at all costs.
War must always be a last resort: but war is a reality. We can meditate and tree pose for peace all we want, but there are other countries who can not be trusted and must be watched carefully. We as a nation must be prepared to respond with force if necessary. I wish this weren't the truth...but it is.
I feel more secure with someone who knows what she is doing and can sit at a table and negotiate with diplomacy, because she has that experience, than a president Trump who knows absolutely nothing except how to run his mouth, insult people and self promote. Is that who we want with the codes?
If that doesn't frighten you, I don't know what will, and a divided Democratic party will yield just that.
So I am pleading with you, my undecided friends and Sanders supporters, to keep supporting the candidate you believe in, but when the time comes, please...unite as a party. If Hillary becomes the nominee, please drop the nasty rhetoric, and support your party and candidate, wholeheartedly, with the vigor and enthusiasm you have given Mr. Sanders...as if your life depended on it...because it just may.
See the good that Hillary can bring, or at the very least, know that if you refuse to vote out of protest, you are voting for Donald Trump.
All together now, everyone. It's time.
Let's save our country...before it's too late.

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