February 1, 2016
I first met Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire immediately after the last debate before the 1992 primary. I remember listening to her as she spoke to a circle of mostly young women captivated by this new political trailblazer. Nearly two generations later, she is no longer the fresh face of politics having been at the center of national debate throughout, but she remains a trailblazer.
I am endorsing Secretary Clinton for President, not out of rote loyalty to the Clintons (as I endorsed Barack Obama in 2008), but instead my choice is guided by finding the candidate that best represents Democratic ideals and who can (i) build on what Presidents Clinton and Obama have accomplished, (ii) expand opportunity, (iii) protect our environment, (iv) address the scourge of gun violence and (v) maintain American global leadership while keeping us safe in these uncertain times. Above all, I want a fighter who is not afraid to stand up to the Republican nominee or Republicans in Congress, yet who can still get things done.
Hillary Clinton is all that and more. Critics on the left promote the meme that Clinton is Republican-lite, which is only proof of how you should be careful about what you read on the internet, particularly since she voted with her opponent Bernie Sanders 93 percent of the time.
Past is Prologue
I firmly believe that where you come from says a lot about where you are going. Clinton’s early career includes working with Marion Wright-Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund. She also co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation which funds civil legal representation for the poor.
Moving into the White House, she and her husband brought us the longest economic boom in American history that benefited all income levels. President Clinton oversaw the largest increase in education opportunity since the GI Bill and dramatically expanded the earned income tax credits to help bring the poverty rate to its lowest level since 1974. While as First Lady, Hillary proposed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which at that time was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance for children since the creation of Medicaid in 1965.
President Obama has led the economy back from the brink and a President Rodham-Clinton would not only continue these polices but has an agenda to promote fair growth to ensure that working families benefit in this continued recovery and make the U.S. a clean energy superpower.
Clinton v. Sanders: Domestic Policy
There are significant differences between Hillary and Senator Sanders. Hillary supports Obamacare and has a plan to reduce prescription drugs costs by allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug rates as it does currently with the Veterans Administration. Senator Sanders wants to re-litigate the brutal health care battle to implement a vague universal health care plan that Vox’s Ezra Klein dismisses as a
puppies-and-rainbows approach to single-payer — he promises his plan will cover everything while costing the average family almost nothing.
Hillary supports the Brady Bill, opposes immunity for gun manufacturers and wants to bring back the assault-weapons ban and close loopholes in our gun laws which has earned her the endorsement of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill and for immunity for gun manufacturers and his explanations on this have been less than credible.
Clinton v. Sanders: Foreign Policy
Senator Sanders is quick to point out another significant difference with Hillary, that being their vote on authorizing the disastrous war in Iraq. I too believe that vote was a mistake, but when comparing the two candidates on foreign policy there simply is no comparison.
Secretary Clinton is widely praised for her efforts as Secretary of State in repairing U.S. relations damaged by the Bush administration; bringing sanctions against Iran; promoting Internet freedom; challenging Arab governments to liberalize their political systems; and as a voice for human rights for all (including women and the GLTB community). Her tenure has won praise from Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared that she “ran the State Department in the most effective way that I’ve ever seen.”
Not only has Senator Sanders largely avoided foreign policy discussions, he has shown little interest in it and his shadow foreign policy cabinet is embarassingly thin. While Sanders may have got it right on the 2002 Iraq vote, he is wrong in opposing any U.S. leadership role in fighting ISIS and naive to think enemies Saudi Arabia and Iran could form a coalition to fight it. In endorsing Secretary Clinton over Senator Sanders, the Concord Monitor properly dismissed its neighboring state’s Senator as a “foreign policy naif.”
I’m Voting for a Democrat
There is another important distinction between the two candidates – Hillary is a Democrat, Bernie Sanders is not. Sanders has in the past referred to President Kennedy as “nauseating” and had great difficulty in supporting Democratic nominees Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis over Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush respectively and wished for a primary challenge against President Obama. That tells me everything I need to know.
While I commend Senator Sanders for the enthusiasm he has created during this campaign and for highlighting important issues such as income inequality and the need for real campaign finance reform, the last thing we need right now is an ideologue as President to create more acrimony and gridlock in Washington and achieve nothing. Hillary Clinton, in contrast, has been able to work with friend and foe alike to get things done.
In looking at their records and watching the debates, I believe the choice for the party is clear. Hillary Clinton is the most seasoned candidate to seek the Presidency since John Quincy Adams. For the past 34 years she has weathered all sorts of vicious attacks from Republicans and the media, yet she continues to hold her head high and keeps fighting the fight and blazing new trails. That is why she consistently is named the country’s most admired women and, come January 20, she will earn a new title – Madame President.