NOTE: I wrote this back in June as “I will vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton” but decided to hold off from publishing it until now. Edited appropriately.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has completed the consolidation of the Obama coalition around her campaign, eight years after her first historic run. The Democratic pivot to the presidential election is now complete with Rodham Clinton at the helm.
I went to a Christian private school while HRC was a senator from New York, and I attended college while she served as Secretary of State. Since I wasn’t involved in local politics until maybe 2012, I didn’t follow her career or campaign. I’ve only found out more about her as a politician during these last two years. 2008 was when I started college, and I think I wrote in Ralph Nader in the general election because Obama came off as an “inevitable” candidate and I was interested in “bucking the trend”. I don’t remember participating in the primary that year, but it was my first presidential election of voting age.
HRC was someone who I remember my mother dismissing as “that woman who would take your kids away and put them all in government daycare”. I vaguely remember how she and Bill were mocked in jokes on TV in the 90s and 2000s.
She was someone who, from what I remember, came off as an ambitious, motivated First Lady who wrote, released and promoted popular autobiographies on her experiences for TV audiences. Her time as Secretary of State was when I first started taking notice of her as a multilateralist diplomat who would seek UN support to defend U.S. government interests abroad. She was someone who set a different tone from the Bush years of going it alone.
I was watching when the Arab Spring happened in 2011, which I think was the moment when Hillary and Obama, together, demonstrated the “lead from behind” strategy that kept us out of more overt war, stressed a reliance on drones and jets to assist Libyan rebels, and applying diplomatic and media channels to engage dissenters in the MENA region.
I remember Cablegate, when diplomatic cables showed how complicated we were in our relations with other countries. The release, which happened during HRC’s tenure, allowed the public to see the issues faced by our diplomats around the world. I think it helped her profile as a political figure, especially in relation to her public (but troubled) human rights stances.
In regards to our relations with the world, HRC emphasized restraint of our military capacity and the need to build bridges with other nations, even in the face of religiously-motivated violence abroad.
Unfortunately, I don’t think she broke enough with the Kissingerian tradition of “realpolitik”, and I don’t think it is possible in American statecraft to do so because of the vigilant free-market hawkery which has defined us for longer than HRC’s entire life. She is pretty standard fare as far as hawkery is concerned, just not an extremist like many of her predecessors.
HRC has cultivated her own political path over the last 16 years. I think she may not be the exact “New Democrat” that Bill and Jimmy Carter were in their presidencies. She had her highest political experience under Obama, and she is fully cognizant of how the Democratic party has changed. I don’t think she will move the party to the right of Obama like Bill did, particularly because to the right of the Democrats’ platform of civil rights and the ACA is the space occupied by the far-right which has demonized her constantly since she became First Lady in 1992.
HRC has no reason to tack to the right of Obama. At worst, she may be as corporate-friendly as Obama has been, despite the thankless, ungrateful behavior by corporate leaders over the ACA, net neutrality and climate preparedness. She has pinned her campaign on securing and maintaining the ACA, which will rub the proponents of single-payer the wrong way.
But her absolute bucking of the rumor-mongering regarding the FBI investigation into her private emails is polarizing. Sometimes, I don’t know who to believe – those on the right who DESPERATELY want her to go to prison for some sort of “treason” which is hard to pin down, those who despise her from the left for her “baby-killing” support for (multilateral, non-Bushian) intervention, those who find her “fake” for attempting to relate to audiences where they are, those who tentatively admire her for defending herself against and defying the GOP’s knife-edge vituperation, or those who see the severe criticism as unbridled good-ole-boy misogyny against a typical seasoned, multi-dimensional politician who just happens to be a woman.
HRC is a human being. She, like Barack Obama, like Bernie Sanders, and maybe even like George W. Bush, have multiple dimensions to their personalities. She has flaws, and she has triumphs. I don’t think her prior flaws disqualify her from the presidency any more than other presidents’ flaws disqualified them. As an African-American, I don’t think her past support for the “superpredator” thesis disqualifies her from being racially progressive since she has demonstrably removed herself from that position.
I wish to approach her with grace, magnanimity and an open mind until she proves otherwise as president. I think she can be a decent president, but the pressure should be on to keep a diverse socio-economic set of concerns at the fore of an HRC presidency and, hopefully, a more Democratic Congress.
So I think HRC, with a comparatively-decent resume, can be a decent president and can make more progressive choices with decent pressure from within the Democratic party. I can live with “Madam President” and “First Gentleman”. And I can work to see more progressive, single-payer-supporting, pro-labor politicians in state and congressional office in the years to come.
This is why I have voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton as of October 18, and encourage you to vote for her and all other downballot Democrats in Georgia on November 8, 2016.