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The Case for Clinton

On February 1st the actual voting starts in the Presidential race – sort of. That’s the date of the Iowa Caucuses, an event which is much more involved than simply voting. You have to show up and stay there for your candidate, literally taking a stand. Polls show that whether you do it by likely caucus attendees or possible attendees the lead for Clinton is small at best.

That’s a reflection of how much Sanders has caught fire through this pre-election season, and for good reason. Sanders is fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party – making it stand up for working people and a fair economy once more. It’s a good and noble effort and something to be happy about. But when it comes time for me to caucus, a month later in Minnesota, I’ll be supporting Hillary Clinton.

What it comes down to, for me, is how I read the job description.

The image that launched "Texts from Hillary". She's at her best looking bad-assed.

The image that launched “Texts from Hillary”. She’s at her best looking bad-assed.

There is no one more experienced in Washington and on Wall Street than Secretary Clinton, period. She knows her way around all of the corridors of power in this nation like no one else. The obvious attraction of Clinton is that when someone sits down at the big poker table in the big chair labeled US we should have the biggest, baddest SOB handling our chips.

That’s a double-edged sword in a good year, given that Clinton’s comfort with genuine power puts her at odds with the American public. This year, disgust with all of the institutions of our nation makes her experience quite a liability. Her net favorable / unfavorable has to change, as it makes Clinton sometimes seem like a weaker choice than outsider Sanders.

And it’s hard to say anything bad about Sanders. Not only has he galvanized the left into a potent force for the first time in a generation, even recreated it for a new generation, he’s done it as a purely class act the whole time. He’s never allowed himself to be distracted by whipped-up scandals and even defended Clinton at times when a cheap shot might have been effective.

Feel the Bern?

Feel the Bern?

There are polls which suggest Sanders is therefor a stronger candidate all around. If the party winds up picking him, or O’Malley for that matter, I would eagerly support someone other than Clinton in the general election. We have a good crew all around.

As frustrating as the zeal of his supporters can be, I really like Sanders.

Why not support him, then? Why on earth should we trust Clinton when we may not have to? Why not support the person who stands for working people like no Democrat since Robert Kennedy and have someone in the White House that we can depend on?

In the end, it comes down to the concept of a “Chief Executive” and how that works in a Democratic Republic like ours.  And I don’t always agree with Sanders on policy, either.

No one trusted FDR to lead the progressive cause.

No one trusted FDR to lead the progressive cause.

Flash back to the last time our nation was in peril and in desperate need for leadership that defined the next generation. That was in 1932, when the Great Depression made the concept of democracy look weak all around the world. The Democratic Party chose Franklin Roosevelt – the person with the best resume for the job all around and an experienced power broker. Progressives, led at the time by Henry Wallace, were not impressed. They didn’t trust FDR and openly talked of bolting the party for good.

The reasons why FDR was successful lay deep in the mysteries of leadership and what it means in this nation. As a strong leader, he knew that he was at his strongest when the people and Congress had his back. He wasn’t there to enforce an ideology, he was there to get things done. That meant forming coalitions and, at times, meeting the demands of progressives so that they had his back.

Democracy, like a caucus, does not ask us to simply show up and vote. It demands that we all make a stand and stay a part of the process.

A truly strong executive has to be created as a coalition of people and ideas that represent the future of the nation. As strong as the presidency is, it’s only as strong as those who have the back of the president so that they can make the deals that get things done.

Sen. Warren in fighting form.

Sen. Warren in fighting form.

My dream ticket does not begin and end with Clinton. I want to see Martin O’Malley running for Vice President on a platform of wholesale reform of government – a good job for the Veep to do and something that O’Malley has a lot of experience with. I want to see Sen Warren out there campaigning hard, clearly in line to be Secretary of Treasury. I want to see someone with good military credentials, possibly Gen. Wesley Clark, also campaigning hard on the need for military accountability and reform, too.

And, of course, Bill Clinton becomes Eleanor Roosevelt, feeling everyone’s pain.

Would I support Sec Clinton without this backing? I’ll back any Democrat, any way I can, once the nomination is secured. But to realize this team it will take a contentious season that gets Hillary Clinton out of her comfort zone and puts this team together – to win more than the White House, but to take the Senate and state legislatures all over the nation.  There will be a contentious US House to deal with no matter what, which is why this kind of leadership is absolutely essential.

Sec. Clinton right before her speech at NYU.

Sec. Clinton right before her speech at NYU.

If anyone can do this I expect Clinton to be the person. It comes down to leadership, vision, and unity. Clinton has the first two and needs to demonstrate the latter. No one else can claim that at this stage of the game.

Why Clinton? Because she has the experience and knows how to lead. We live in a world desperate for leadership at all levels. There is nothing to fear from a tough nomination fight because, if anything, it should show that she is capable of forming a coalition and giving in where necessary to make great things happen. That’s the leadership our system and our values demand.

So I will stand there at Monroe Elementary among my neighbors and make this case proudly. That’s what a caucus is all about and that’s what our system is all about. I believe that we need Clinton’s experience and skill – but we also need to stand together when the night is over.

It’s a good time to be a Democrat. Sure, we have Sanders to thank for that more than anyone. But my vote still goes to Clinton to lead us into the future.

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35 thoughts on “The Case for Clinton

  1. I don’t agree with these judgements at all. O’Malley, for example, fucked up in Maryland so much that there is now a Republican governor in that very Democratic state. He’s known for supporting a giant garbage burner in a poor Baltimore neighborhood. Maybe he’s the Mark Andrew of presidential politics?

    And Sanders has been in politics for decades. I don’t agree with all his views and positions, but he’s far more experienced than was, say, Obama,and might be far more effective. His campaign, as you admit, has been a class act. I have trouble remembering anything Clinton has said.

    • Clinton is a behind the scenes negotiator first and foremost, which shows in her public speaking. That is both her great strength and her biggest flaw, I say, and I think a strong cabinet that draws her out into the open will do her a world of good.
      Sanders’ experience has been almost entirely legislative. He’s good at that, and he is an important figure without any doubt. But I make a distinction between legislative and executive – I think Obama’s weakness as an executive shows the difference clearly. If Sanders had been Governor of Vermont I genuinely would be much more excited about him. That may seem strange but it’s really true. As an executive you have to do a lot more than talk, you have to make things happen and see them through.

    • this opine and the comments it has inspired will tell any sane person (if one can be found, unlikely in this space) just how doomed we are.

      Won’t have to wait to long!

      Thanks for nothing my delusional leada luvin non fellow “americans”!

  2. I for one cannot believe how much she has been just trashed in the press! The Republicans made her unfavorable rating or whatever it is and for some reason people believe the worst about her. I still think its all about being an uppity woman who doesn’t know “her place”. They can’t stand that any more than they can stand a black man in power.

    • Yes, I think a lot of the irrational hostility to Clinton is related to the uppity woman stuff. On the other hand, supporting her just *because* she’s female is just as irrational. I would vote for her over any Republican, I’m sure, but I don’t want her as President if it can be avoided as she doesn’t represent my interests. I think she would be a traditional corporate stooge/imperialist warmonger type president. Not my cuppa tea.

      • If she isn’t your first pick that’s OK as long as you aren’t one of those “anyone but Clinton” people who call her a warmonger and tool of Goldman Sachs. The latter is what gets me. Just because she is successful and did what she had to make it people say, “oh she’s in their pocket now”. She will always be her own person because she had to be to make it.

  3. It would seem that Sanders better represents the concern for inequality and for progressive cause compared to Clinton. My guess is that Sanders would be better in a managed depression.

    For example Hubert Humphrey was a great liberal candidate in 1960.

    • Sanders would have been much more interesting to me 8 years ago, yes. We need a leader for the Year Everything Changes and beyond. Keep up with my pet theories, will ya? 🙂

      • Many of us do not accept your year everything changes notion. It doesn’t go over smoothly on me. Trying to predict the future is quite a bit riskier than advocating policy to address a recession and critiquing fiscal and monetary policy made in congress and the fed. : )

      • I agree, it’s risky at best. But I do think it’s going to happen. There is a political earthquake in the works, so we’ll see how that goes at the start of 2017. As for the turnaround, well, once we approach full employment you have to agree everything does change. And I do see that.
        So it’s not so much about the cycles, which should NEVER happen like clockwork, but the underlying other changes.

  4. Naaaa. Obama had a dubious record as a state legislator, where he voted “present” dozens of times to avoid taking a stand, and a very brief period as a US Senator. He had no depth of experience and won with his rhetorical skills. Sanders was a successful mayor and has been a legislator for decades. Nobody can be sure how he would perform as President but there is more reason for optimism than there ever was with Obama.

    • A good point. The office changes everyone so it might actually be interesting to see what happens.
      Well, maybe we’ll see. 🙂 I am pretty sure we’ll elect the Democrat, whoever that winds up being, so this could be a really wild year.

  5. It’s disappointing to see you selling out by supporting Hillary Clinton. I thought being a strongly principled liberal was important to you. ; )

      • just spray paint hillary on the side of your house for an ambassadorship to England

        : )

        Admit it. You are like Joseph P. Kennedy. : )

  6. Not a regular here but this post caught my eye as I am in Iowa. Sadly, I always work Monday nights and couldn’t get off for caucus. That said, I would not caucus for HC for her peeps turned me off 8 years ago during the caucus…besides I’m a Sanders fan.
    I question if Clinton would not sellout the lower-middle class as Bill did in his last term to play to the Congress and keep the economy good. Not that a good economy is bad, but many people fell through the cracks when funding for the poor was completely cut and only WIC remained. We are on such shaky ground that I at least have confidence that Bernie would not be taking sketchy deals. He is not the old boys network which I think befalls so many. This is also why I think it may be a stretch for him to be elected by the majority.
    I guess my question is: who does Congress hate the least so we can get things done for the next four years. I’ve become a doubter – no matter who is in the WH, if they folks in the House and Senate are at war numbers-wise, it is just more of the same – gridlock.

    • We’re at least thinking of the same problem – Congress. I think the Dems will retake the Senate, so I’m not too worried. But the House … not likely to take that.
      Part of the reason I support Hillary is that I can imagine her and Paul Ryan making a deal to actually get something done. That may frighten you more, and I’d understand that, but there is so much that we obviously have to get done in the way of reform for the next generation and the next economy that I’m not too worried.
      But, no matter what, I want to see an energized and engaged progressive movement taking over the national dialogue. Nothing good will happen without that, no matter who we elect. I’ll go as far as to say it almost doesn’t matter who we elect without that.
      And, to make it clear, if Sanders does pull this off I’ll happily support him and do what I can to be sure that Minnesota goes for him!

      • Appreciate your thoughts on this and agree that we need to get out of GRIDLOCK! A bit skeptical about Ryan, but at least he has openly questioned Trump on some of his rhetoric. It shall be an interesting year. I’m glad I do not watch T.V. – nice way to avoid all the political ads that hit this state early!

      • Good call on not watching teevee. It rots yer mind – except for cartoons, that is. 🙂
        Yes, getting out of gridlock is what I think is the most important thing. I do believe that an active Congress will wind up engaging people, which is to say that nothing too stupid will happen. We need a lot of serious reform in many areas to set up the next economy!

  7. Hillary Clinton is more likely to forget labor once she gets in office compared to Bernie Sanders.

    You believe that labor creates all wealth but I can’t see how you are practicing your principles. You have written that the returns to labor have not been as great as the returns to capital. You are spineless on labor. We all remember what happened to Hubert Humphrey when he lost his way on Vietnam

    • A good rebuttal to many of my points. I do honestly believe that Clinton is the most qualified and best person for the job, but I see why people to the left of me disagree. If you honestly think the most important issue today is income inequality than Bernie is definitely your candidate. I happen to think that with a few key reforms here and there the problem will work itself out very shortly.

  8. Pingback: Four Views, Two Candidates | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

    • Thank you! And I totally, 100% agree with you!
      I came into this thinking, “Eh, it’s Clinton’s”. I am now looking to see how we have a dramatically improved Clinton for the challenge. That’s a big win.
      The leadership and the push we need from the Sanders wing is not something that necessarily has to be in charge to be effective – but it has to stay engaged! It’s a lot like FDR to me all around. The Progressives made him a better President – and they never, ever let up. That’s what we need, IMHO.

  9. Pingback: Is it Over? (It’s Never Over) | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

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