Thursday, June 9, 2016

If I Vote for Hillary, Here's Why

I'm still not ready to commit to a candidate for the 2016 presidential election. The nominees of the two major parties have only just been selected after all. There is still five months of campaigning to inform and persuade me. I will keep an open mind.

However, as of this moment, I can envision myself voting for Hillary Clinton, but not Donald Trump.


I want to be as fair as possible to Trump. I don't want to say "never." But he is making it very difficult for me to give him a chance. He insists on repeatedly making inflammatory, racist, mysoginistic, insensitive, and downright alarming comments. I staunchly disagree with his views on immigration and am baffled by his incoherent statements on national security. I can't really imagine what he could do or say at this point to erase that history, but I'll keep watching and waiting just in case.


Hillary Clinton is not a perfect candidate, to say the least. I have been involved in politics for a long time. I remember the Clinton scandals and controversies of the 90s - Monica Lewinsky, Whitewater, and Hillarycare, to name a few. I'm predisposed as a lifelong Republican to instinctively loathe her.

But I don't see her as evil incarnate like some Republicans do, or as I might have done earlier in life. As I take a fresh look at Hillary in preparation for the 2016 election, allow me to list some of the factors that line up in her favor.

The Pros

Hillary has extensive experience in government, including her time as first lady, U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state. The job of president is unique and difficult, and experience is essential, especially as it relates to foreign relations and moving legislation through Congress, both of which Hillary is well versed in.

Though it's hard to say for sure, I'm of the opinion that Hillary would most likely be a centrist president. While her senate voting record is quite liberal, there are indications that she might be more concerned with her legacy and reelection than passing a sweeping expansionist agenda. For example, at the start of her adult life she was president of the Wellesley College Young Republicans(!). Her husband's presidency can be described as moderate, including such conservative projects as welfare reform, free trade agreements, a balanced budget, and DOMA. In 1996, Bill famously declared that “the era of big government is over.” Hillary herself voted in favor of the Iraq war and admirably continues to this day to defend the vote (if not the war), despite the war's unpopularity. She didn't voice support for same-sex marriage until 2013 (after I did, by the way), which in my generous assessment shows that she takes her time considering issues and is less likely than some to rashly pander (of course you may think she is just doing what is politically expedient, but we each must judge for ourselves).

To summarize, Hillary is intelligent, confident, and otherwise capable and qualified to be president of the United States.

The fact that Hillary is a woman cannot be overlooked. Nearly 100 years after women were granted suffrage, we still haven't managed to elect a woman to the highest office of the land. Now could be the time to finally break the ultimate glass ceiling. If Hillary weren't otherwise qualified, I wouldn't bring up this point, but I would really love to be able to tell my grandchildren with pride that I voted for the first female president. In a way, the very existence of a Trump candidacy clears the way (and my conscience) so I can pull the lever for a Democrat at this historic moment in history.

Addressing the Cons

Now let me take a moment to consider some of the negative factors and explain why I may be able to overlook them if I indeed choose to vote for Hillary in November.


I have followed the Benghazi story since the beginning. It is unfortunate that four Americans were killed. It is unfortunate that Christopher Stevens' calls for additional security were ignored. It is unfortunate that the Obama administration persisted in blaming a YouTube video for so long. It is unfortunate that then-Secretary Clinton deflected responsibility in Congressional hearings. However, these men were killed by Islamic militants, not bureaucratic failings. Secretary Clinton was guilty of sins of omission, not commission, to use religious terminology. Just because she theoretically could have taken actions to prevent the deaths doesn't mean they are her fault, any more than 9/11 is George Bush's fault (or Spider-Man's, for that matter). She made mistakes. But everyone does - that alone does not disqualify her from office.


Again, with regard to her personal email server used for official communications, Hillary is guilty of sins of omission rather than commission. She did not meet Boris and Natasha at the bus stop and slide secrets across the bench in a sealed manila envelope. She took steps to protect the communications from third parties. Her worst infraction was deleting what she called her “personal” emails from the server. But even then, as far as we have been told by the FBI, there was no indication in any of those emails that she was engaged in any illegal or unethical activities. It is a simple matter of violating policies. She may have broken laws in the strictest sense, but even if indicted I personally don't feel she deserves a severe punishment. There is still time for additional damning evidence to be released, but at this point I personally see this as a non-issue.

The Clinton Foundation

So far the evidence I have seen regarding potential improper activities related to the Clinton Foundation (i.e., conflict of interest in accepting donations while serving as Secretary of State) is circumstantial, and doesn’t really indicate anything devious in my judgment.  Unless some other more concrete information comes out, this situation won’t affect my vote.


In November, Hillary will be no older than Ronald Reagan was when elected to the presidency. She has shown no signs of slowing down. There's no reason to withhold the chance for her to prove she can do the job for at least one term, and she (and the electorate) can reevaluate her health and fitness four years from now.


One of Hillary’s biggest flaws is her tendency to deflect responsibility and blame right-wing conspiracies or complain about being unfairly targeted. But I sympathize with her because she is usually right - she has consistently been attacked and criticized for her entire life with greater vitriol than anyone other than perhaps George W. Bush, over everything from her pantsuits to her accent and even the sincerity of her tears.

I wish Hillary reached across the aisle more often and didn't gloat in partisanship so much. But in her best moments, she can be an inspiring speaker. As Barack Obama said, she's "likable enough." I can envision a scenario where we as a nation could be proud of Hillary as she represented our country on the world stage. I hope if elected she chooses to lead in a spirit of bipartisanship, in contrast to the headstrong way President Obama has frequently conducted his presidency.

In short, yes, Hillary has baggage. But every politician does, and I see nothing egregious that would disqualify her or put her on unequal footing with any man elected president in the last couple of centuries, and certainly nothing that couldn't be paired and countered with similar flaws of Donald Trump.

An Opportunity for Bipartisanship

I see three reasonably possible scenarios coming out of this election:

1) Democratic president and Democratic/split Congress
2) Democratic president and Republican Congress
3) Republican president and Republican Congress

I don't think a Republican president and Democratic Congress is likely because if Trump wins, it will mean he energized a large number of Republican leaning voters who otherwise would have stayed home. I also think a third-party win is highly unlikely (though I will consider voting for one if a viable option emerges as the election gets closer – stay tuned).

I'm not a fan of scenario 1 because as a Republican I don't like the idea of an unchecked Democratic president as was the case in 2009-2010. I also cringe at the thought of a Trump presidency, so scenario 3 is out.

So scenario 2 is the best case scenario of these options. And the only way to get scenario 2 is to convince a large number of Republican voters to both turn out to vote and to split their tickets, and for a large number of independent and even Democratic voters to do the same. The best way to do that is for conservatives and moderates to actively support Hillary, but to also advocate for a balance of power by voting for Republicans in Congress. (If Trump gives him one more excuse, I think Paul Ryan should even get on board.) If Hillary is ahead by a wide margin in the polls by November, I can see this scenario being somewhat realistic, as even partisans see the benefit of a balance of power.

Imagine if Hillary was elected with the full support of the vast majority of Americans, maybe winning 40 or more states. Imagine if she felt beholden to not just a small slice of liberals and progressives, but to conservatives and moderates as well. She could be the president of the entire country, not just Democrats. Wouldn't she then feel obligated to lead from the center, and advance a moderate agenda?

Wouldn't Republicans in Congress then feel more inclined to cooperate and compromise to pass meaningful reforms?

Wouldn't these States feel a little more United? Maybe we could finally heal from decades of extreme partisanship.

And if Hillary turns out to be as great as she has the potential to be, maybe 2020 will be a time to again unite behind a universally beloved leader.  Or if she fails miserably and squanders her mandate, it could be the year for a fresh young Republican to enter the stage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would be curious to see if she sold secrets using the email system and clinton foundation.