Why I am Voting for Hillary
by Mary Quinlan
I didn’t start out as a Hillary supporter and in fact, I was hoping that she would not run. I thought, “It is really enough to be a good senator, a la Ted Kennedy” and the prospect of having her “out there” and vulnerable to the vicious attacks was more than I wanted to think about. Also, my stand on issues is far closer to Dennis Kucinich than middle of the road Clinton.
But I decided to open myself up to Hillary Clinton on a different level. First, I tried to look at the big picture of what’s going on in the world today: the disastrous lack of diplomacy that has left us the most hated country this moment; the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan; the downward spiral of our economy and the huge national debt; the danger our personal liberties and the Constitution are in; the rapid deteriorization of the environment; the widening inequities in this country and in the world.
We all play the game of “If I were President I would….” but what would it take to really be President? It’s tempting to say “Not much if George W can do it,” but I think we can all agree that he is not doing it. And, as much as I respect Dennis Kucinich, for instance, (or any one of the large pack of Democrats who were running for President), I cannot really see him as being up for the job. I think the job of President really takes some intestinal fortitude, some deep and nuanced understanding of the big picture as well as the particulars, an ability to assess a situation quickly with all the best advice available. It takes real courage to take action in an uncertain and dangerous world. I never thought I would say it, but I think it takes maturity.
When I considered Hillary from this point of view, I came away more favorably impressed than I ever imagined. She is smart, smart, smart, even more intelligent than Bill Clinton; his intellect was a great part of his appeal, and the lack thereof is part of Bush’s disastrous presidency. She is tough which is reassuring both in a national security kind of way and in the inside-the-beltway-Shark-tank kind of way. Even her political calculation seems to me an asset (although not warm and fuzzy) in this climate. And, we are kidding ourselves if we think every politician is not calculating and cunning. It’s more a part of her public persona, partly because she thinks strategically, and partly because the media loves to paint her as a bitch.
I am voting for Hillary because I think we are in a really big mess, and I think she has the intellectual depth, the political acumen, and the personal strength to navigate that mess and actually change some things. Obviously I disagree with her approach on some things, but this decision is really about who can get the job done.
When I think about all the problems in the world and the high level of anti-Americanism, I am reassured that she already knows many world leaders and they respect her. In terms of reproductive justice issues, as well as broader personal liberties like habeas corpus, Clinton is solid. Although she is careful on the abortion issue, she gets that it is about real people’s lives, something most politicians do not. One thing that really impressed me is that when she was first elected Senator from NY she very quietly set out to understand the ins and outs of the Senate and connect with others on both sides of the aisle. When she was ready she very effectively got things done—help for NY farmers, help for 9-11 first responders, and help for uninsured children with the SCHIP program, the largest expansion of public health care since Medicare and Medicaid.
It strikes me that she has already studied the job of President, first hand, for 8 years. It’s not the same as being President but you certainly know the scope of the work, the possibilities, the need for restraint, and how to get things done. That persistence, willingness to compromise, and strategic leverage of power is something that takes years to understand, much less master.
It’s odd for me to think that 10 or certainly 20 years ago I would have been all about Obama and his hope message, but from my older, more experienced viewpoint now I think we need a whole lot more than hope. We need her experience, her intelligence, her maturity. The change we need is from the catastrophe of the Bush Presidency and Hillary Clinton can start slogging through his mess from day one.
And in 2012 or 2016, Barack Obama will get my vote when he has a lot more to back up his inspiring message of hope.