Regardless of who wins the 2016 election, the 45th President of the United States will represent an historic first: the first woman, Jew or person without a whit of government experience at any level to occupy the nation's highest office. And just as uniquely, the next "presidential spouse" will also represent an historic first: the first former President of the United States, former president of a college which went out of business, or model who posed in the buff for a GQ photoshoot. And although the rancor, name-calling, back-biting and overall puerile inanity of the contest to date is neither sui generis or of historic proportion, it is quite a head scratcher to say the least. I for one cannot recall a presidential election in which so many people, when asked who they are planning to vote for will, instead of proclaiming what's "right" about their chosen candidate, will instead, launch into a schoolyard litany of the shortcomings, human failings and indictable offenses afflicting the candidate they will be voting against. Keeping all this in mind, I am going to break with that tradition, and endorse a candidate not because of what I find irrevocably objectionable in their opponent, but rather what I find to be both compelling and hopeful in them. In making this endorsement, it is not a "lesser of two evils" or "the evil of two lesser" kind of situation. Rather, it is making an endorsement of - and offering unstinting support to - the best person for the job. In other words, an endorsement with a difference.
My endorsement goes to former First Lady, United States Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. And before anyone points a finger, questions my sanity or tells me I've become brainwashed by "drinking the Kool-Aid," let me tell you something: I recognize that Secretary Clinton - like all human beings - is imperfect; she has her flaws. Then too, so did George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, the cousins Roosevelt, JFK, Ronald Reagan . . . all forty-four of 'em. I consider myself to be a fairly close, well-read and knowledgeable student of American political history. To date, there hasn't been a single one of the fabulous forty-four with whom I've agreed on every issue, program, proposal or decision - and that includes she who will, if there is anything I can do about it, become number forty-five - Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. History is not, simply speaking, hagiography; neither is it the stripping away of every vestige of accomplishment and dignity in the pursuit of discovering or identifying clay feet. We all have clay feet. It's simply part of the human condition. We are not voting for a paragon, but rather a president.
I find Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the best person for the job of President of the United States for ten reasons . . . not necessarily in order of importance:
- Experience: While it is true that résumés alone do not guarantee success in the Oval Office, they can - and frequently do - offer a highly useful glimpse into an individual's abilities and experiences while informing us of the roads they have traversed throughout their public and professional lives. Secretary Clinton has one of the most compelling work histories of anyone to have ever run for POTUS. She knows virtually all the players on Capitol Hill, in industry and finance, and in every capitol on earth. She has the experience, temperament, poise and savoir faire to be able to hit the ground running on day one. She is also supremely aware of what she does not know, and can easily tap into a vast "kitchen cabinet" of people who do know . . .
- Maturity: Secretary Clinton carries herself with dignity and aplomb. She is neither a bully nor a boor. She will be a powerful and dignified presence on the world stage. (As an aside, she also has one of the most real, spontaneous laughs I have ever heard or witnessed.)
- Supreme Court: In a Clinton Presidency, the Supreme Court will be looking ahead to the 21st century, and not back to the 18th. She will name people to the federal bench who understand that the Constitution is a living, breathing document, rather than a static relic handed down from some late 18th century judicial Mt. Sinai. A Clinton-appointed court will not overturn Roe v Wade; however, it just may overturn Citizens United v FEC.
- Guns: While Secretary Clinton does respect the Second Amendment, she also understands that there are simply too many weapons out there; that in its primary function as industrial shill, the National Rifle Association (NRA), has sold the American public a bill of lethal goods. Simply stated, she understands that it is time for comprehensive gun control, NRA be damned. She will not cave in to all the conspiracy theorists who scream about the Feds coming to take their guns away.
- Israel: Hillary Clinton has been a friend of Israel in both word and deed ever since her days as First Lady of Arkansas. More than 40 years ago she instituted an Israeli-created educational program (“HIPPY”) into her state. Today, it is being used in in nearly 2 dozen states. As both a senator and Secretary of State, she worked closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu to make Israel's defense posture even stronger, was at the forefront of those keeping up sanctions against Iran, and lent early support to Palestinian Media Watch, a research organization which, among other things, exposes anti-Israel and anti-Semitic biases in Palestinian schools.
- Pro-choice: Secretary Clinton has, for more than 40 years, been a strong supporter of a woman's right to choose. More importantly, she has been an even stronger supporter of programs safeguarding the health, education and safety of women, families and children of all ages. Unlike many, she does not believe that "life begins at conception but ends at birth."
- The Economy: Secretary Clinton does not believe that the solution to every economic challenge is cutting taxes and regulations. She is not - indeed, never has been - a "supply-sider" . . . one who believes in the efficacy of "trickle-down" economics. She grew up in the middle-class and worked hard to get to where she is today. She took away from her upbringing certain values and understandings not available to those "born on third base." She has a fully detailed program to revitalize the middle class, expand American trade and create new jobs at home . . . all without insulting our partners or erecting barriers which would ratchet up global economic tensions.
- War and Peace: While I find Secretary Clinton to be more hawkish and neo-conservative than my ideal in the area of foreign policy, she is definitely not interested in going to war with the rest of the world. She values our allies, our treaties and our international commitments. She has no desire to put nuclear weapons into the hands of those who are our friends . . . or enemies.
- The Future of Planet Earth: Secretary Clinton fully accepts what more than 97% of all climate scientists have concluded: that the earth is warming at an alarming rate, and that fossil fuels share the lion's share of blame. She is in full agreement with the recently negotiated Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and has called for banning fossil fuel development on public lands. And yes, it did take her a while to come out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, but what the heck: she came around to the only responsible, defensible position.
- And Finally: There's no getting around the fact that Secretary Clinton's favorability ratings are not, to put it diplomatically, as high as a supporter might wish. But then again, nobody's ratings are very good anymore; we live in a time where only 4% of the American public say they have a great deal of confidence in Congress, 15% in the executive branch and 24% in the Supreme Court. In other words, no individual, no institution, is believed to be trustworthy or let alone competent. The reasons for this turn of events are as varied as the hues and shades in a rainbow - and just as mysterious. The Clintons have been in the public eye for a long, long time. They have also provided a tremendous amount of fodder for the legitimate media, "infotainers," conspiracy theorists and members of Congress looking to make their bones. As a result, an awful lot of people believe they know "the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth" about them. And yet, despite all the many years of slings, arrows and outrages, both Secretary and President Clinton have survived . . . and even flourished. Secretary Clinton has proven herself to be a person possessed of thick skin and steely determination. She has also, for nearly four decades, shown extraordinary grace under fire. These qualities are absolutely essential in a POTUS; one who must multi-task 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, now dealing with a foreign leader, now urging Congress to act, now preparing a State of the Union address or preparing a budget . . . all the while being closely followed by a black-suited military aide carrying "the atomic football" - that ominous 45-pound briefcase housing the codes needed to authorize a nuclear attack. It's one hell of a lot to expect from any one individual. And of course, whether any of her wishes, nominees, programs or legislative proposals can be enacted will depend, to a very great degree, on Congress; on whether they can place patriotism and duty above partisanship and demonization.
The office requires neither the perfection of a saint nor the spotlessness of a paragon; neither shoot-from-the-lip vulgarity nor the ability to shock or entertain. What it does require is a steely resolve to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," and the ability to work with people; all kinds of people from all kinds of places holding on to all kinds of beliefs. It requires one who will never resort to fear mongering for the sake of political victory or gain. It absolutely requires an individual who will, to the best of her ability, never embarrass the people of the United States, or bring the office of President into disrepute.
From where I sit, there is only one person with the knowledge, experience, temperament and world view capable of filling the office beginning in January 2017.
That person is Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Copyright ©2016 Kurt F. Stone