Copyright:Joseph Sohm; Editorial Credit: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

Richard Wagner shares what he has learned supporting Obama the “first black president”, and opposing Hillary the “first woman president”.

In the last 8 years, I’ve been an Obama supporter and a Trump supporter. Eight years before that, I was a Bush supporter. I’m not a “flip flopper”. I have most of the same principles I had eight years ago.  I think the US needs a more humble, and more prudent foreign policy.  I think we need better trade deals that promote manufacturing in the US and reduce or eliminate the trade deficit.  I’m a fiscal conservative, but I also support major investments in infrastructure.  I could go on.  But basically, I try to support the candidates that most closely align with my views.

Having been on “both sides” in the last eight years, I’d like to compare my experience of being an Obama supporter, to being a Hillary Clinton opponent.  As in both cases, we have a “minority” making history, and I’ve now been on the side of the “minority”, and opposed to the “minority”.

When Obama made History

I supported Bush in 2000 in part because he advocated a far more humble foreign policy than had been practiced by Clinton, and was being advocated by Al Gore.  Needless to say, I was not only disappointed by felt betrayed by Bush.  Another Clinton in the Democratic Primary just looked like more of the same.  But in 2008, Obama was fresh.  For some, he was fresh because he was a black man.  For others, it was his diverse background, having been born in Hawaii, lived in Indonesia, his father from Kenya, etc.  

I lived in London, and had friends from all over the world.  I had my share of diversity.  For me, Obama was fresh because he offered hope and change when I needed it the most.  He was going to bring our troops home from Iraq, and use the money saved to reduce the deficit.  He was going to invest in infrastructure at home.  He was going to create a public option to provide affordable health care for those who couldn’t afford private insurance – and no individual mandate.  

The Rage Against Obama

I remember Obama’s opposition. They claimed that Obama hated American – America!   Many accused these angry people of hating Obama because they just couldn’t stand seeing a black man in the White House.  But unlike them, I tried to engage Obama’s supporters in a proper debate.  I’d ask them why they hated him so much.  Some of them would say, “We’ve never had a Muslim President before!”  Others would say, “Because he’s a communist and he’s trying to destroy America!”  There was rage against Obama indeed, and it was clearly irrational. But racist? Hardly.

When Trump Made History  

Unlike Obama, Trump wasn’t my first, my second, or even my third choice.  

At first, I just thought he was a “flavor of the week” in the Republican Primaries. He’d have a week or two at the top of the polls, and then next week it’d be Ben Carson, or Carly Fiorina. But while Carson, Fiorina, and others had their second choice flavor of the week status, Trump stayed on top.  

A man with zero political experience, a vague platform, incredibly controversial and temperamental, won the nomination of one of the two major parties – the GOP.  This did make history.  

Have we ever seen someone with no political or military background rise to the Presidential nomination in American history, without having at least served as a Senator, or a Governor, first?  I can’t think of any.

Much like Obama in 2008, Trump has his supporters and his opponents, and his opponents passionately oppose him.

When Hillary Clinton Made History

To make matters more complicated, Hillary Clinton has also made history.  She’s as conventional as they come in just about every way.  She’s been in politics most of her life.  Her family name is famous in American politics.  She’s served as a Senator, one of the two most common stepping stones to the White House (the other being Governor).  She’s even served in the highest cabinet position as Sec. of State.

Jimmy Fallon once joked with her, “Is it possible you are overqualified?”  But we all know the one thing that makes her different.  She’s a woman.  We’ve never had a woman even nominated for President by one of the two major parties, much less become President.  

Yet I, an Obama supporter from 2008, am adamantly opposed to Hillary Clinton.

Are you a misogynist?

If opposing Obama makes you a racist, then surely opposing Clinton must make you a misogynist, right?  Well, not exactly.

Yes we can oppose the first black president without being racist. Yes we can oppose the first woman president without being sexist.

Like those opposing  Obama, I have what are to me very legitimate reasons for opposing Hillary Clinton that have nothing to do with her “minority” status .

One thing this whole experience has taught me is that there is a basket of deplorables on both sides of the political spectrum.  I saw plenty of deplorable attacks from the now Trump supporters, back in my Obama days.  

Obama’s a communist!  He’s tryin’ to destroy ‘mer’ca!  He bowed down to the Saudi King! He’s bowing down to the Muslims!  Deplorable indeed.  

All ridiculous personal attacks that are either false or irrelevant, and distract from discussing the important issues.  But now, I see the same from Clintonites.  

He’s a racist!  He hates women!  Ermagerd!  Did you see him standing behind Hillary Clinton?  He’s so creepy!  

Eight years ago, these same people denounced Bush for the war in Iraq, deregulation of the financial sector that contributed to the Great Recession, bad trade deals, outsourcing and job loss.  

But, you know, Hillary Clinton is a woman and all, and we’ve never had a woman president. So tell Hillary “I am with her”. I don’t want to be sexist.

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *