I’m voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders. I like, admire, and respect Hillary Clinton. Secretary Clinton has an admirable and lengthy record of service and experience at the highest levels of government, as a U.S. senator from New York and as President Obama’s secretary of State. She has articulated a thoroughly progressive domestic policy agenda that, if implemented, would dramatically improve the lives of millions of working families across the country. She is highly knowledgeable of foreign policy issues and debates, and she is well prepared to serve as our country’s president and commander in chief. Full stop.
But I’m voting for Bernie Sanders.
As a Democratic primary voter from Wisconsin, I see foreign policy through a unique lens. We Wisconsinites have inherited a proudly progressive foreign policy tradition that stretches back to Fighting Bob La Follette but also includes more recently tenured Wisconsin officials like Gaylord Nelson, Russ Feingold and Tammy Baldwin.
This is a philosophy that emphasizes a rigorously cautious approach to military intervention and focuses on active diplomacy and international consensus-building. For too much of its history, this has been a dissenting tradition, but with President Obama’s ascendance to the Oval Office it has become the governing philosophy of the current administration.
The Obama Doctrine, revealed in a long profile in the most recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly, can be summed up with the president’s own phrase: “Don’t do stupid (stuff).” Above all, he has prided himself on his ability to look with skepticism at persistent calls to make unjustified and irresponsible war in all corners of the globe. Still, this cautious approach should not be mistaken for isolationism. President Obama and his administration have intervened with vigorous diplomacy in the Middle East, assertive attacks on terrorists across the globe, and unprecedented engagement with the Cuban people.
This legacy of tough-minded judgment must be defended, reinforced, and advanced by our next president. Sanders is the candidate to do that.
Senator Sanders demonstrated this kind of judgment in opposing the Iraq War. He has called on Syria’s Middle East neighbors to take a more active role in isolating President Assad’s murderous regime. And Sanders has offered thoughtful and judicious comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a proud friend and former resident of the state of Israel and as a Jewish-American.
That record matters to me.
I voted for President Obama in 2008 not because of his eloquence or his biography, though I appreciated both. I voted for him because I believed he demonstrated real wisdom by opposing the Iraq War and emphasizing the importance of engaging in real and difficult diplomacy with friends and foes. I voted for him, because the job of the commander in chief is the primary role of the U.S. president, and it is the one in which he or she will have the most freedom of movement. Domestic issues are incredibly important and relevant to the lives of all Americans, but we must also choose a president who will be best suited to make decisions about war and peace.
So I’m voting for Bernie Sanders. I believe he is the candidate who has demonstrated the best judgment on these topics, which are of the highest consequence.
That’s my choice. You have yours. We will make them together in another great experiment in democracy on April 5. And when we’re done, let’s continue to participate together in the ongoing and unfinished struggle to build a better state and a more perfect union.
Rep. Eric Genrich, a Democrat, represents the Green Bay area in the Wisconsin Assembly.
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