My Case for Hillary

Here are the points I want to discuss:

- Her judgment about Syria as a reason not to vote for Hillary

- That she should be in jail because she feels she is above the law

- That she won’t do anything good

Hillary was the prime mover in the implementation of SCHIP. That program has, since the nineties kept about 8 million kids in health insurance and thereby given them access to doctors. What does her determination to create that say about her judgement?

Syria is an insanely difficult problem. The alliances and consequences are complicated beyond explanation. As I understand it, the main flaw imputed to Hillary is that she preferred a policy of helping Syrian rebels in their effort to overthrow their dictator, Bashir al Assad. This guy has been a horrible problem forever. Among many other things, he used chemical weapons on his own citizens. He is a monster and a serious impediment to peace in the region.

Now, it’s apparent that 1) those rebels failed to overthrow Assad, and 2) absolutely no one has any idea how to actually solve the problem there. With a half dozen governments actively causing trouble, it is very difficult for me to see how Hillary could hold singular responsibility for any of it. This is a chess game with a lot of players. 

Perhaps, only ‘perhaps’, she was wrong to choose the path of eliminating Assad. However, there were a lot of paths tried. She did, in fact, try to work with Syria to bring it to the table. She did, in fact, work with Iran to try to quell Assad’s violence. She did a lot of stuff and none of it worked. I have never actually read (and I just spent twenty minutes reminding myself) of anyone who had a solid alternative that she rejected.

But, more to the point. If one is going to pick an issue on which to base a decision about Hillary, why choose Syria over SCHIP? In Syria, 400k people have been killed. In America, at any moment, eight million kids have access to health care. In Syria, she was presented with an intractable problem that no one has been able to solve, including her. For health care, she was presented with an intractable problem and she found a way to help millions of children.

While I don’t think anyone should be judged on the outcome of a single project, choosing the most impossible one doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. I prefer to look at the overall person. In this case, suppressing Iran’s nuclear program, international women’s rights and climate change, a lifetime of devotion to moving the ball forward on many women’s and social issues seem to paint  a more complete picture that is a more approbate basis for a decision.

The notion that Hillary is a criminal that would be in jail if the government was not corrupt is a favorite trope on the right. The basic premise is that she has, for the last twenty five years (!) cheated the system by somehow slipping past indictment after indictment. While I would, were it true, sincerely believe that this represents a level of cunning genius and capability that increases my desire for her to be running the show, it’s simply not true.

To begin with, she hasn’t committed any crimes. None. Nada. Not one. She has been at the brutal end of investigation for all those twenty five years, usually with highly biased investigators. None of them has ever found evidence of any crimes. 

While it is true that they continued to talk as if they had found proof, they are lying. James Comey, Republican head of the FBI and well-known Clinton hater, said it best, “Nothing she has done rises to the level of a crime.” “No prosecutor would bring a case.” “No crime was committed.” (These are paraphrases. I don’t have the patience to look up the exact language.)

And that’s just the latest. Do you really think she killed Vince Foster? Do you really think that she stole money but somehow the years of Whitewater investigations never found it? Read THIS article for a review of the viciousness and falseness of these attacks.

All of which is to say, if Hillary deserved to be in jail, she would be or, at least, I would know about it. Instead, what I have learned in my decades of following her and being a hobbyist interested in politics and political controversy is that the truth is literally the opposite. Contrary to being a shady character, Hillary is a person of such high integrity and rectitude that decades of effort by her enemies to prove her a criminal has failed.

It’s true, though, that we live in hopeless times. Lately, I’ve been thinking that one of the weirdest things is that having the biggest army no longer really gets us anything. It makes me think of antibiotic resistance. In the first half of the last century, both our military and antibiotics literally changed the world in every way imaginable. Now, it is frequent that people die because they are attacked by something for which antibiotics do not work. Now, it is frequent that people are killed by political violence for which our army does not work.

It hits America at its very core. This country is defined by two things: Money and Violence. Sure, people like to talk about the rule of law but not when it’s black kids getting shot by police. They like to talk about the resilience of the population but that’s utter bullshit. America knows how to make money and it knows how to defeat Hitler.

So, we find ourselves in an era when the real problems (in addition antibiotic resistance) are climate change, international economic inequality (also known as terrorism), the growth of religious fundamentalism (also known as the American political system), and a bunch of other things that are simply not solved by either guns or money. There is a broad and deep sense of pessimistic ennui among our fellow citizens.

So, they say that Hillary is not Bernie. She’s not an agent of change. She’s a pawn of the banks. She’s part of the power structure. She’s not going to do anything good. But there is absolutely no factual basis for believing such a thing. When I say “absolutely”, I’m not being rhetorical.

Certainly Hillary will face tough obstacles to accomplishment. But, so did Barack Obama. As everyone knows, the Republican leadership of Congress met on the day of his inauguration to make an agreement that they would never cooperate with anything he wanted to do, regardless of its virtue. Regardless, it turned out, if it was a plan that they had, themselves, proposed.

Yet, health care is available to tens of millions of people and America is measurable healthier because of it. We have an international agreement to control carbon emissions that includes both the other big countries and those in the third world. We have record job and economic growth. He was a prime mover in equality for gay people. He reopened relations with Cuba. He did a bunch of things to improve education. He got banks out of the student loan business. He got financial regulation (Dodd Frank) implemented. (You can read about this HERE.)

Barack Obama was a newcomer on the political scene when he was elected. While he said a lot of nice stuff, he had no real record of doing anything novel. We just believed him. And, it was easy. He is a preternaturally charismatic person and he is truly brilliant.

It’s a little harder with Hillary because she is a nerd, and not just a regular nerd, but an ultra-nerd. A nerd who always invests whatever time it takes to make sure that she knows more than anyone else. (Not 'appears' to know more, but actually knows more. She was famous in the State Department for knowing more than her briefers about almost everything.)

Unfortunately, nerds are aware of the complexity of everything. So, when Hillary speaks, she has to choose her words very, very carefully to find just the right phrasing that connects the insane amount of information correctly. This makes her less fluid and therefore less believable than both of the brilliant but non-nerdy men who preceded her, Bill and Barack. They are able to elide the details. She is not.

Hillary, on the other hand, does have a real record of doing stuff. SCHIP is one thing. Sanctions that brought Iraq to the table are another. She invented health care reform when it was a forgotten history lesson. She coined the phrase “Women’s rights are human rights” and, had the insight to force her way to China to say it at a time when the notion of a woman doing such a thing was an innovation in itself.

In both the Senate and the State Department, she was known for being a remarkably effective person at getting things done. She was known for being able to apply her superpower nerdiness to figure out ways to change plans to appeal to more people and thereby bring more support to bear. She was known for being friendly and effective in converting enemies into supporters of the causes she pursued. She is, in short, known for being a person who, first and foremost, is able to get things done.

The only question then is whether she wants to do anything good. For that, you have to decide if working to extend free public education through local college is a good thing. Or, if you think that trying to make it so that every home in America can be powered by clean energy is a good thing or that adding a half a billion (!) solar panels to the economy counts as good. (Her energy program is amazing. You can read about it HERE.) Or criminal justice reform, or revising the tax code so that employers are encouraged to have profit sharing, or improvements in child care options, or, well, let’s just say, she has a lot of ideas for things that, in my opinion, are really good things.

Combined with her lifelong commitment to things that are consistent with my values and her proven record of accomplishing such things, it seems to me a little too easy to join the pessimistic zeitgeist and to apply it to this remarkable, brilliant woman.

I will conclude by noting one other thing about Hillary that makes me want her to be my President. She is known, in actual, personal fact, to be a lovely person. She is said to, by everyone who knows her, to be a very warm and caring person with a good sense of humor and a sincere interest in the people around her. As Secretary of State, she often brought the cake to celebrate co-workers’ birthdays. (Name another chief executive who does that.) The people that know her love her. The reason is that she’s a person whose fundamental personality includes taking care of the people around her, caring about their opinions and wanting to nurture them. That is, the reason is that she exhibits some of the best virtues that exemplify the feminine perspective.

There are many reasons that I support Hillary with a fervor and love that I have applied to none of the other candidates that I have supported in the past. Her experience is unparalleled. Her brilliance is unmatched. Her knowledge and ability to turn that into productive plans and strategies is as good or better than any public figure I’ve ever known.

But the biggest reason is that she is a woman. I am tired of aggression as the primary public cause. I’m tired of a country lead by testosterone and an inclination toward dominance. I am tired of leaders who consider caring to be weakness. I am tired of competition and quick solutions. 

I know Hillary has flaws. I know that she is more of a power-broker than she appears. I know that she will have to kick ass, probably do more war and do a lot of things that I wish she didn’t. But I also know that her fundamental view is different than even the second loveliest President of my life, Barack Obama. She is a woman. She collaborates first.

I want that with a deeply held emotional need that is hard to express. It’s not true that our problems are all caused by men. But enough of them are that I want to give a woman a chance. That is change I can believe in.