Clinton has personality flaws, electability flaws. But out of the remaining candidates available to us, Hillary Clinton would be the best president of the United States. Not the best candidate, or the best person, but rather, the best president.
My argument focuses on leadership and policy qualities that strongly suggest to me she will be a better president (perhaps by far) than our other options, Democratic and Republican, with a liberal bias but consideration of some valid conservative concerns.
- Pragmatism, cooperation, don’t fix what isn’t broken
Clinton has changed her positions and policies over the years. Supporters of Sen. Sanders like to point this out, especially her moderate/conservative by today’s standards views on gay marriage and crime (but I’ll get to her championship of social justice later, in #3). However, in an intensely polarized political climate (i.e. what’s currently going on with the supreme court, 50+ attempts to repeal Obamacare, etc., etc.), Clinton more than any other candidate is a pragmatic liberal in the sense that many of her policies are more common sense than ambitious.
This fits into “don’t fix what isn’t broken”–such as Obamacare. Republicans keep making the false claim that Obamacare isn’t working: well, it is, and Republican candidates’ efforts to repeal it would probably be disastrous. Sen. Sanders, as he does on many issues, has a proposal that is highly flawed.
I love Bernie, but I don’t see him and Congress getting along very well as president. Clinton has proven that she can work across the aisle, which today is more important than ever. Am I the only one who can’t imagine Bernie and a Republican congress getting along particularly well? I know Bernie supporters will say that his candidacy will bring about a revolution in politics, and put a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, but we really can’t bank on that, especially not for every year of his presidency. Sanders’ one-note repetition of the same points (important as they are) does not suggest to me he’ll adapt effectively to opposition.
Back to common sense policies: Close corporate tax loopholes, invest in infrastructure, invest in clean energy, tax relief for families, require financial firms that are too big to fail to either break up or reorganize, the list goes on and on. Fitting into this common-sense mold are innovative policies, like offering tax breaks for companies that share profits with workers.
2. Clinton is the best candidate on foreign policy
Obviously, she has the most experience as the Secretary of State. No, Trump’s business deals around the world do not count as foreign policy experience.
To begin with, I agree with some critiques of the way President Obama has handled foreign policy. However, Clinton is actually stronger and a bit more conservative than Obama on many foreign policy matters.
While Clinton, as Secretary of State, may not have left a legacy as profound as those of George Marshall and Henry Kissinger, it seems likely that history will find her tenure as Secretary of State a positive one and herself as an extremely competent holder of this important position. She effectively helped change (for the better) the way most of the world viewed the United States, advocating “soft” foreign policy all around the world–diplomacy, not war. She also made domestic economic growth, for the first time, a pillar of US foreign policy. Many successes in Obama’s second term, including the Iran Deal and normalization of relations with China were only possible due to actions Hillary took as Secretary of State. She was far from perfect, and the problem of Libya and the declining (?) situation in the Middle East demonstrates that she did not succeed much in improving American interests there.
She is the only candidate with a comprehensive plan (multilayered and coherent) to take on the Islamic State. Sen. Sanders is extremely inexperienced with regard to foreign policy, mainly relying on his opposition to the war in Iraq as indicative of his acumen. Mr. Sanders is extremely intelligent and prescient on many issues, however, we need a strong leader than can actively engage our allies and enemies. Now is not the time to shrink from the world scene.
A brief statement against Trump and Rubio’s positions on foreign policies: Trump and Rubio both seem to believe the solution to world problems is to use brute force and bullying to impose America’s will on the world. We’ve seen in Iraq and many times before that our policy needs to be more nuanced.
Sen. Sanders does not (yet) have a foreign policy adviser with actual foreign policy credentials (though he may soon, but it may be said that Feb. is pretty late in the game). To those who think he offers a radically different vision, he is hardly more liberal than Pres. Obama on most foreign policy issues.
3. Clinton is committed to social justice
YES, BERNIE IS TOO. I am simply going to demonstrate that Hillary is, too, too.
It is my firm belief that our rapidly changing society needs a President who is liberal on social issues. Bigotry and prejudice cannot continue to thrive. A strong ultra-conservative backlash is coming to a tilt this election season, with abortion clinics shutting down, a war on Planned Parenthood, Trump’s outrageous statements about, well, everyone, a rise in white supremacy groups... (the list goes on and on).
Clinton is liberal on social issues. She supports gay marriage. She entirely regrets her tough-on-crime stances from her husband’s years as president. She wants to expand rights for LGBTQ, disabled persons, empower women, less guns (please, one issue where she is definitely more proactive on than Sanders). She will nominate liberal justices to the Supreme Court when given the opportunity.
Almost every talking point that Sanders makes about important social issues–women’s healthcare/rights, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ rights, etc–Clinton comes extremely close to his positions. For individuals, there might be key differences (at times, Clinton is more moderate, and might push a little further in that direction for the general election). While I view these shortcomings as valid critiques of Clinton, my point that she would be a better president than Sanders from my arguments in #1 and #2 above still stand.
While Senator Sanders may have been more prescient on many of these issues, Clinton has come around. I understand that some people can never forgive Clinton for what she has said in the past, but that is the problem of those individuals. The central argument of this post still stands. Clinton will help create the change we need in this day and age, though perhaps she may not be ready for the change we’ll need in 25 years.
A flaw with Clinton is that she does fit into her critics’ narratives about systemic inequality (the types of donations she has accepted, etc.). However, her plan to address income inequality and voting rights is nearly as strong as Sanders’ , and again, her moderation and pragmatism makes her plans frankly more likely to happen. Again, that word ‘nearly’ is a valid reason to continue to support Bernie in the primary, but again, it doesn’t defeat my argument.
Summary of my argument for Hillary: Strongest leader, will accomplish a lot as president, strong on foreign policy, more than sufficient with regard to social justice.
Summary of my argument against Bernie: In the past, the “shoot for more, settle for more” argument that Sanders supporters have made might have worked. But if Republicans control Congress, it simply won’t. I know how appealing he is, because he represents something fundamentally different for America. I do not think this will make him a better president in our current political system and our current United States of America. I’m just left skeptical that he would be effective in the White House.
sidenote: I’d rather have Sanders by far than any Republicans. It’s unclear who polls better against GOP candidates (no, the internet articles that you have seen declaring Bernie as better in every scenario do not look at all the polls). I want him to stick in the race as long as he can. However, the numbers don’t look great for him.
Summary of my argument against Republican candidates: They fit into a narrative of prejudice. They are a part of a hazy system of self-perpetuating and probably false economic ideas.THEY WILL GET US INTO WARS! THEY DENY CLIMATE CHANGE!
Anyways, Bernie or Hillary would be great. But Hillary’s got the significant edge as a leader, a president.