Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
“I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives.” – Barack Obama, January 2016
As I’m writing this, the first votes for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election are being cast. The Iowa caucuses are the official start to the election process for the commander-in-chief of the most powerful country in the world.
I would tell Iowans not to do anything stupid, but given the frontrunners on the GOP side, at least half of them will have failed in that regard no matter who is declared the winner. Why is the GOP field in shambles? Because the GOP base is convinced that anyone who is remotely associated with the establishment or compromise is the enemy. They are convinced that there is a silent majority of Americans who will support their preferred extreme candidates in the general election, despite all past electoral history. They are convinced, despite all expert analysis to the contrary, that all they need is enthusiasm and a new movement of previously inactive voters to propel their candidates, whose views are anathema to the general electorate, to victory.
Meanwhile, we Democrats watch from the sidelines and hope we can face Cruz or Trump in the general election instead of an actually electable candidate. Please, my fellow Democrats, don’t make the same mistake as Republican primary voters. Don’t vote for Bernie Sanders. Vote for Hillary Clinton.
Don’t vote for the person who doesn’t have a single full-time foreign policy advisor to command the greatest military force in human history. Vote for one of the most knowledgeable foreign policy minds of our time, who was called by President Obama “one of the finest Secretaries of State we’ve had.”
Don’t vote for the person who is being actively helped in the primary by members of the GOP because they hope to run against him. Vote for the person who has sustained twenty-five years of Republican attacks and is still standing. Sanders will be clobbered in the general election due to past statements complimenting socialist leaders, past visits to the USSR, and past proposals demanding substantially higher tax rates. The smear campaign will be brutal and effective, destroying the leads he supposedly has in statistically irrelevant head-to-head matchup polls with Republican candidates, whereas with Clinton there is nothing new left to attack her for and yet she still leads most of their candidates. Think of how effective the attack on Obama for being ‘socialist’ was in 2010 after passing Obamacare. It resulted in electoral defeats in congress, statehouses and governor’s mansions that will continue to haunt Democrats for years to come. The effectiveness of the attack should not be surprising given the deeply negative opinion Americans as a whole have towards socialism, despite substantial support for socialism from the left.
The importance of winning this election cannot be overstated. The entire executive branch is on the line, the balance of the Supreme Court is on the line, the majority in the Senate is on the line, and the Obama legacy is on the line. If the next president is a Republican, he will dismantle Obamacare, renege on the Iran Deal, and repeal all of President Obama’s critical executive orders.
We don’t have to choose between a strong progressive candidate and an electable one. Hillary Clinton, despite the false advertising, would be the most liberal Democratic nominee in decades based on Nate Silver’s analysis, which rates her as more liberal than Barack Obama. She’s certainly not Bernie Sanders, but given that the House of Representatives will stay under Republican control due to post-2010 gerrymandering, it’s not as if any legislation to the left of Hillary Clinton could be passed anyway.
She is not her husband. People criticize her criminal justice reform advocacy due to her being associated with the administration responsible for some deplorable tough-on-crime legislation, but Sanders himself actually voted for that legislation. If he can be forgiven for his vote due to a renewed advocacy for change, surely she can be forgiven for merely being married to the man involved.
She was solidly on the liberal side of the first Clinton administration and led the fight for universal healthcare in the 90’s. She has led countless important liberal initiatives since then, from paid family leave to early childhood education. Her diplomacy was instrumental in bringing Iran to the negotiating table for the most significant foreign policy accomplishment of this century, the Iranian Nuclear Deal. She even privately urged President Obama to use executive authority to close Guantanamo Bay. If elected, she will stack the court with liberals who will overturn Citizens United, restore voting rights protections and protect abortion rights. As a former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady, she is perhaps the most experienced non-incumbent to run for President in U.S. history.
Hillary Clinton is the candidate we need, though given the way she’s being treated, perhaps not the candidate we deserve. Here’s hoping she’s the candidate we get, because if not, we may end up with a White House with giant gold letters on the front spelling “TRUMP” for all to see.
Featured image courtesy of www.independent.co.uk