Not that my opinions have any particular weight — I’m just another citizen attempting to be an informed voter. But I find myself explaining my position a lot online, and I thought it might help me to lay it all out on the page. So if any of my regular (or irregular) readers are interested in my opinion, here it is: I’m supporting Hillary for president. Not Bernie. I like Bernie; I like Martin O’Malley too. I think they’re good men who want to do good things for our country. Speaking as a Democrat — and as someone who is truly frightened by the current crop of GOP contenders — I will gladly and proudly vote for either of those men if they end up being the party’s pick. But now, in primary season, I’m supporting Hillary. Here are my reasons why.
Foreign Policy Experience
Under normal circumstances, this would have been way down on my list. But these are not normal times, are they? And what are normal times, anyway? Just how many wars are we in right now, and how long have we been in them?
Let’s face it — foreign policy experience matters. I know, it’s tough to wrap our brains around what’s happening in far-off countries with difficult-to-pronounce names. But we’re sending our troops to those countries. And we’re accepting refugees from those countries (I hope we are, anyway.) And we’re also engaged in a nebulous “War on Terror” that is happening across many countries, even those we’re not at war with. We need a president who knows all the ins and outs of foreign policy. Who excels at dealing with foreign leaders. Who can do and say what needs to be done and said to get changes made. And there is exactly one person in this race who has a wealth of foreign policy experience. Hillary Clinton.
Hillary has often been criticized for “not having any accomplishments”. Carly Fiorina got a lot of applause out of a line to that effect. But it’s just simply not true. Hillary has a proven track record of being able to get things done. To name just a few:
- As Secretary of State, she was largely responsible for authoring the sanctions that brought Iran to the table.
- As First Lady, she helped create the CHIP program, ensuring healthcare for underprivileged children.
- As a Senator of New York, she fought tooth and nail for the people of New York following 9/11, securing $21 billion in aid to help NYC rebuild and helping to pass legislation that funded treatment for 9/11 first responders.
- She led the fight for the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
- She negotiated a cease fire in Gaza.
- She authored the Pediatric Research Equity Act, requiring drug companies to study the effects of their drugs in children. Many children are now receiving better care because of this act.
- She renewed diplomatic ties with Myanmar.
- She helped compel the Chinese to commit to cutting carbon emissions.
- She helped create the Adoption and Safe Families Act, assuring more children the chance to live in a loving forever home.
I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. The reason the answer to the question “what has Hillary done”?” is difficult is not that she hasn’t done anything. It’s a difficult question because her accomplishments can’t easily be boiled down to a soundbite or two. There are too many, and they’re too varied, and they span 40 years. You can’t point at one thing, or one group of things, and say “Hillary did this.” As easily one of our most influential first ladies, then as a Senator of a particularly prominent state, and then as Secretary of State, she had very different roles — and she managed to accomplish amazing things in all of them. This is a lady who accomplishes things. I want that in the White House.
She’s The Strongest Candidate
I’ve waffled on this in the past. People do seem to love Hillary or hate her, and I worried in the primary runups to the 2008 elections that she would be too divisive a figure. But as things stand right now, she is the strongest Dem candidate — the one most likely to beat a Republican.
It’s not just that she’s leading Bernie and Martin in the polls, either. She’s strong because she’s been in the public eye for 40 years, and at this point, there’s not likely to be anything new that she can be hit with that will bring her down. Republicans can yell about Benghazi and emails all day long, but if you’ve watched the hearings and read the emails, you know that there’s nothing incriminating there. Since the 90s, this woman has been accused of everything from murder to poor taste in pantsuits. There’s nothing new here. Those who like Hillary have heard it all already, and if they’re still with her, then there’s nothing a Republican can throw at her during the general election that will change their minds.
Bernie does not have this same shield. I’m not accusing him of having a sordid background, by any means. I think the Right will attack him first on the grounds of his identification as a Democratic Socialist. But they’ll make it sound like a scandal. And it might work. “Socialism” is a word that’s already used with either derision or fear in American politics.
It bothers me that we’re not talking about this now. Because whether it should matter or not, it will to those on the right. If Bernie wins the primary, the very next thing that will happen is that the Republican machine will start yelling about how the Democratic candidate is a scary socialist who doesn’t share “our country’s Christian values.” And it will hurt him then, because it will seem to be coming out of nowhere… they’ve let him basically alone thus far. Which is kind of my point. Even if I’m totally off base on what they choose to attack him on, they’ll attack him on something — and he’ll be vulnerable to it, because it will almost certainly be new information to at least some of his supporters. If there’s any new information about Hillary anywhere in the political universe, I’d be amazed. They’ve been throwing everything they’ve got at her since the 90s, and she’s still standing. She’s not bulletproof, but she’s definitely wearing Kevlar. I suspect she’ll survive the general election if anyone can.
She’s a Woman
There, I said it. Someone needs to. I’m tired of hearing that I shouldn’t want to vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman. It’s not my top reason for supporting her, but it’s a reason, and it’s an important one.
There have been 44 female senators. Since 1789. That’s it. Not even 50. There have been all of 3 female Secretaries of State: Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and Hillary Clinton. To the best of my knowledge, precisely zero former First Ladies other than Hillary Clinton have gone on to hold both elected and appointed public offices, let alone national, high profile public offices.
Don’t kid yourself. It’s still harder for a woman to get ahead than it is for a man, and the ultimate glass ceiling sits unbroken in the White House. Hillary is a remarkably accomplished woman, and if she breaks that ceiling, it will be a boon to women everywhere. For the first time ever, little girls around the country will be able to say “I want to grow up to be president” and they will have a role model they can point to.
Don’t get me wrong. I would not vote for just any woman for president. There’s no power on earth that could compel me to cast a ballot for, say, Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin. Just as many African American voters who turned out to vote for Obama wouldn’t be caught dead casting a ballot for Ben Carson. I want to see a woman in office, but it has to be the right woman. (And I think Hillary Clinton could be that woman.) But getting a woman elected does matter. It’s not an insignificant thing that she’s female, just as it wasn’t insignificant that President Obama is biracial, and just as it wouldn’t be insignificant to elect our first non-Christian president if Bernie Sanders gets the nod. These things matter. They say that our country is evolving, and that we’re beginning to care about more than just white Christian men. So yes, if presented with a woman and a man that were equally qualified and equally in line with my political ideals, “female” would tip the scales for me. That’s close to what’s happening here. Not quite, because I actually do believe that Mrs. Clinton is the strongest and best qualified candidate regardless of gender. But it’s close. All the Democratic candidates are good, and the differences in ideology are slight. I believe that it’s time for a woman to hold the highest office. I won’t be ashamed of wanting to see living proof that women in this country can now be allowed to achieve what men have never had to worry that they couldn’t achieve.
Like a good freethinker, my mind is always open to new evidence. Should I be presented with real evidence that Hillary is not a good choice for President of the United States, I’m open to changing my stance. But so far, I haven’t seen any evidence. I’ve seen fearmongering from the right. I’ve been told that I need to “feel the Bern” by Bernie Sanders supporters who increasingly remind me of Ron Paul supporters (psst… I don’t hold the man responsible for his supporters — or I try not to — but some of you Bernie supporters aren’t doing your candidate any favors.) But as I read the facts, Hillary is the best choice for us in 2016.