My favorite two Democrats are Elizabeth Warren and Russ Feingold. I'm not a DNC-cheerleading company man who waves the blue pompoms at anything with a (D) next to it, and have said plenty of critical things about the Clintons, their ethical shortcuts and their transactional approach to politics.
What distinguishes Warren and Feingold isn't simply where they are on the progressive spectrum, but their rare integrity, honesty, intelligence, and competence at the job. And Tim Kaine possesses the latter four qualities in spades.
When I met the man, the first thing that struck me was his utter humility, and the complete absence of the "do you know who I am?!" airs that are ubiquitous in this town. He couldn't care less what it says on his business card, and actually uses his offices to help people who don't have many advocates in the corridors of power.
You don't use your Harvard Law degree to help people of color facing housing discrimination, and poor people in Honduras, if you're the Corporate Lucifer cartoon peddled by the Bernie-Or-Busters who don't have a clue about the man.
Do I trust the recent, alleged conversion to an anti-TPP position by Clinton and Kaine? Nope! And neither should you. They're saying the right things about it now, but I fear after the election they'll change a couple of commas and try to weasel this thing past us. It's why I'm glad there's an ascendant progressive Senate caucus of Warren, Sanders, Feingold (bank it), Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley et al. It will be incumbent upon us to contact our legislators when the time comes and keep the pressure on.
But that's how the fuck politics works. You elect people who are mostly great but need an occasional boot in the ass. The perfect, fully formed candidate who does everything we want on every issue, never needs any prodding from us, and can actually get elected doesn't exist. Even Feingold and Warren have occasionally caught flak from the left over things like Ashcroft's AG confirmation or support for Israel.
For that matter, Tim Kaine has shown far more courage and consistency in taking on the NRA--which is headquartered in his own state--than Bernie Sanders has in Vermont. That didn't keep me from voting for Bernie in the primaries, but let's get a fucking grip. Virginia is the home of the NRA, Big Tobacco, and the Falwell-Robertson religious right, and Kaine has taken on all three, every time, without batting an eye.
The stuff about reproductive rights? Ask yourself why advocates call ourselves "pro-choice" instead of "pro-abortion" (a right-wing tag we object to), and you have your answer. I guarantee you Cecile Richards has done more to defend women's health than you and I put together, so if she says the dude scores a 100% with Planned Parenthood and gives him a ringing endorsement, it's a tad obnoxious to suggest she doesn't know what she's talking about.
You have every right to use your vote as you see fit. But please don't use disingenuous, bullshit arguments to justify something you were going to do anyway. If you think the self-aggrandizing opportunist that is Jill Stein does anything but pop her head up once every four years to shake down the gullible for a vanity "campaign," you certainly have the right to help her elect Donald Trump.
But know this: Tim Kaine does more in a day here on Capitol Hill to help the people you claim to care about than Jill Stein has in her entire fucking "career."