Friday, October 07, 2016

Why I Support Hillary

It is now two days to the next presidential debate. I thought I would post this week on why I am supporting Hillary Clinton.

Naturally some of it is based on the level of uncertainty and downright fear I have with Donald Trump and his VP candidate, Mike Pence. But that is the current situation. In reality I would have had a difficult time voting for any of the GOP candidates. While I tended toward Bernie Sanders in the primary process, that does not mean I am opposed to Hillary. So, first, why I support her and then a look at what I feel are some of her shortcomings.

My core values and my understanding of the history of the United States, our gifts and direction as a nation, and the role of government with a large and diverse population most closely align with the policies and ideals of the Democratic Party- and always have. This is nothing new in my political history. I don't just tend to be a liberal- I am a liberal. I don't just tend to support Democrats- I do support Democrats because of the party's stance in the last 50 or so years. That doesn't mean I accept and support every stand and action of the Democrats in power. Of course not. But on any given day, I am most likely to agree with a Democratic position than a Republican.

This has become even more true in recent years as the extreme right-wing Tea Party and the religious right have hijacked the more traditional and reasoned conservative positions. There are many elements of government, such as to

  • form a more perfect union, 
  • establish justice, 
  • insure domestic tranquility, 
  • provide for the common defense, 
  • promote the general welfare, 
  • and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. (Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.)
In the past 50 years, in general, I feel the Democratic Party has worked hard at these in ways that I feel are appropriate. I have seen the GOP tear itself apart with supporting stands that often hurt the more vulnerable among us. In too many ways, the GOP has remained a voice for white males, leaving aside people of color, women, and those of differing religious and personal identities. (My purpose is not to delineate these. I can but I am speaking in general terms. Yes, again, there are Democrats who don't agree. That is fine. But, generally, this is my view of the Democratic Party.)

Hillary is the nominee of this party. She has supported the party's platform and direction. She has been a good spokesperson for these positions in many different ways. She is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders was more to the left of center, but was within that same overall tradition which is why they have been able to reconcile. She- and the overall party- appear to have heard the positions of the Sanders wing and have seemed to be working to bring some compromise and acceptance. That is how American political discourse is supposed to work.

I also believe that Hillary is as qualified as any other presidential candidate- and more so than some. She has been a political person her entire adult life. That means she has done good things and helped people. As a political person, that means she has been able to see the value of discussion and compromise (NOT a dirty word in a democracy!) As such, if faced with political concerns, she is probably more likely to look at the political advantage of not taking an ideologically strict position. Ideological strictness and control may be good to maintain a group built on those, but it is not how a democracy can work.

Being a political person also means she has done things which were stupid or unpopular. But she has been willing to learn and change her opinions. I have no problem with any politician being willing to do that. In many ways it doesn't matter that she (or Trump or whoever) may have supported the initial entry into the Iraq War. At that point, with the information in hand, that was what was felt to have been right. If they have changed that opinion because they have different or more information now, great! They are willing to listen, learn, and grow.

Is she "Crooked Hillary?" No one has, so far, been able to prove anything that would disqualify her. The endless series of investigations by congressional committees has found nothing. From a balanced look at things, it does not appear that Benghazi is all that different from any other attacks on US embassies under other Secretaries of State. Her email usage is just plain stupidity but part and parcel of many in her type of position on both sides. Trump, too, has been attacked for actions which are more just plain political actions or an ability to say what comes to mind with no filter than any crookedness. The Clinton Foundation appears to be a well-run and effective organization which does not appear to be true of Trump's. Even Trump admits to "pay to play" kind of actions. Why does it make him blameless and her the "worst?"

As to Bill's sexual actions in the White House- that has as much relevance as what Trump did with his first wife. Period. Or Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, or John Kennedy. Many, many married people have reconciled following indiscretions and affairs. That does not mean they were culpable in any way that is important to the American electorate. Period. Perhaps it goes back to the idea of what did they learn from it and how are they willing to move forward?

As to her shortcomings, she has them from my standpoint. Remember I am to the left of center and a pacifist. She tends to be more of a "hawk" than makes me comfortable. But then, so is Obama. Trump's war stances seem to be more trigger happy, and are also worrisome. She tends toward too much reserve, but so does Trump. Do any of us really believe that what we are seeing on the campaign trail with him is his real self? It's more of a show than Hillary. She has had difficulty playing to the audience and does tend to be more closed. But after 30 years in the political spotlight in all kinds of situations we know far more about where she stands than we do about where Trump stands. We have seen her tax returns. We have watched her change her stance on same-sex marriage as well as others.

A couple weeks ago my wife and I had the joy of seeing the comedian Lewis Black in performance. One of his insights into why we have problems with Hillary is simply that we know her too well. She HAS been around for many years and never seems to go away. We are tired of her and want someone new. He commented that she's like that person in your carpool that you wish would decide to retire. He explained that First Ladies, like Presidents, are supposed to get off the stage or at least do things that aren't as politically focused. We saw Nixon and Ford disappear. Regan's Alzheimer's forced him to be invisible. Jimmy Carter became an Energizer Bunny, non-stop house builder. The Bush Presidents did the normal step out of the limelight.

Bill and Hillary are still there. In the end, that might very well be her downfall. I hope not, for, as I made clear last week, I am downright afraid of a Trump presidency. He is a con man out to make what he can on us and leave us worse for the experience. But no matter which of the other candidates it would have been from the GOP, Hillary would still be my choice. Say what you will about my position, this is where I am.

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