Fill a room with Democrats and left-wing folk in the weeks and months following the 2012 presidential election, and almost unanimously their chosen successor to the Obama legacy should have been Hillary Rodham Clinton. Fill a room with Democrats and left-wing folk today, and they will be singing a slightly different, and decidedly more, Bernie Sanders’ tune.
Despite all the pomp and circumstance surrounding an admittedly impressive surge of support and popularity by the Sanders campaign, and the ongoing struggle to maintain dominance in the Clinton camp, I have to maintain that Hillary Clinton is, hands down, our best and only choice for president of the United States.
I will preface this argument by saying that I am by no means the most die-hard Hilldawg supporter, and never really have been. During the heated 2008 Democratic nomination battle between then-senators Obama and Clinton, I always pulled for our current president.
I simply preferred Obama’s pragmatic demeanor and air, and found him to be a very impressive and capable candidate for de facto leader of the free world. But this is a different race with wholly different candidates, and I have adopted a slightly different attitude in my personal voting process.
My understanding of the world and the problems we as a collective, earthly society face has evolved fundamentally; it is my belief that we absolutely cannot select outrageously important elected officials based on hype or personal prerogative alone.
Given the unprecedented influence and power of the presidency, and the unprecedented variety of dangers and complex issues we face both at home and abroad, we the people must support, volunteer, rally and, ultimately, vote with more than our own or our political party’s interests in mind and heart. We are not simply choosing between Clinton and Sanders or Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, we are shaping a history and future far greater than ourselves with every ballot cast.
While Sanders is unquestionably a politician of the people, as evidenced by his undeniable charisma and ability to ignite real passion and enthusiasm from his supporters and those still unconvinced, it is my opinion that he does not fully have what it takes to be an effective president.
This is primarily due to Clinton’s superior foreign policy experience, and additionally due to her intimate knowledge of the very real pressures and demands of the presidency from watching her husband during his eight years in office.
Despite voting identically over 90 percent of the time during their tenures in the Senate, Clinton and Sanders break on several key legislation, such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program of 2008, the Patriot Act of 2001, and the Iraq War Authorization of 2002. Clinton supported these measures that in time proved to be mostly unpopular, while Sanders opposed all those aforementioned and several others, earning him an even bigger reputation for truly being a politician of the people.
While I concede that these measures are now widely unpopular in retrospect and inherently controversial, they were necessary evils at the time of passage and enactment, specifically TARP and ,to a lesser extent, the Patriot Act. Clinton’s support of these difficult measures demonstrates an ability to sideline personal prerogative and preference in the name of the greater good.
This is a quality that President Obama has also demonstrated while in office, most recently in his endeavors to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Joint-Comprehensive Plan of Action to address Iran’s nuclear stockpile. While these measures were unpopular overall, their importance to the greater geopolitical landscape and future international dealings cannot be understated.
This ability to tackle the unpopular and divisive in order to accomplish something far more important is a valuable attribute for any elected official to possess, and only more valuable for an individual as important as the President of the United States.
Considering Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state during the early years of the Obama presidency, it stands to reason that she has both a natural and developed aptitude for facing these types of dilemma.
Sanders, on the other hand, has not had the luxury of serving as the premiere ambassador of the United States, and has not had the real-world trial by fire that Clinton has had, considerably limited his understanding of the true demands of rough and tough international diplomacy.
With foreign policy slowly but surely becoming a president’s primary and most consequential focus, particularly for second-term executives, this definitely gives Clinton the edge in a ridiculously important category.
While foreign affairs know-how is not the end all, be all of a strong presidential candidate, it is in my opinion the most important field of proficiency for would-be executives. This does not mean, however, that I devalue a candidate’s stance on other important issues.
Matters such as minority and LGBT rights, immigration reform, seriously addressing our overwhelming contribution to global climate change, working to narrow the continually growing income gap, finally raising the minimum wage and making college far more accessible and affordable are all incredibly important in their own right.
Given the cataclysmic Congressional dysfunction in recent years, making serious moves to address these concerns will be a daunting task for any potential president.
Taking this perpetual political gridlock into consideration, our 45th president’s most significant sphere of influence and ability to make real change will be in the realm of foreign affairs. It is with that rationale that I consider Hillary Clinton to be, far and away, our only choice for president of the United States.