Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dems Need to Resolve Angst About Hillary, Stat!

Secretary of State Clinton / Photo: U.S. Embassy in London, CC BY-ND 2.0

I still have angst about the State Department email situation that is holding me back from enthusiastically supporting Hillary Clinton.  The arguments for the defense coming from Dems sound more like typical spin than thoroughly researched, credible arguments.  But so do the arguments being made by the GOP folks.  I'm feeling like I need to dig in, sort through the best info available, and sort out my feelings on this one right away.

UPDATE: Turns out I'm not the only Dem with such angst.  From today's New York TimesHillary Clinton's Handling of Email Issue Frustrates Democratic Leaders

Donald Trump seems to be gaining on Hillary in head-to-head match-up polls.  She's still ahead, but he's moved a LOT in the last month or so.  All of the polls in June and July had her ahead by 12 to 24 points.  The results gauged in August have her ahead of Trump by just 4 to 6 points.

With Trump's support seeming to continually grow beyond what everyone assumes are his natural limits, NOW is the time to help generate excitement about a Democratic candidate.  We can't afford a President Trump - putting someone with that level of narcissism, vindictiveness, and lack of self-control in control of our military, our weaponry, and international diplomacy is a recipe for disaster.

So we can't allow any common misgivings about our front-runner to just linger out there among some Democrats and Dem-leaning voters.  Doing nothing to change the game will just keep giving us poll numbers that show Trump within striking distance of our front-runner.  These results are only emboldening him and may be coalescing GOP support around him.

If excitement can't be coalesced around our front-runner, we need to find someone else, stat.  (Not Biden.  Biden has his good qualities. But I don't think he can win, nor do I think he's the right person for the job right now.)

Yes, Bernie Sanders has excitement.  But I'm 99.99% certain that Bernie Sanders can't win nationwide.  It's doubtful whether Bernie can even win the nomination.  His excitement is mostly among a contingent of very liberal, college-educated, (mostly) white folks who always vote Democrat, the same folks who flocked to Howard Dean when he remade himself in the image of an anti-war populist - and we remember how that turned out. 

Sure, I like a lot of what Sanders says about domestic issues.  But he needs to address fiscal responsibility, because around 60% of voters are very concerned about the deficit/debt.  And he has little to no background in international affairs and national security, which just won't fly with American voters (including this one), especially not right now.  Sanders doesn't seem like the right person for the job right now, either.

A lot of Democrats won't publicly cop to misgivings about Hillary. Many folks who are actively involved in party politics avoid saying anything that might anger important people or count against them the next time they're up for a job.  Those of us with a more pragmatic nature also tend to fret about publicly saying anything that the GOP might be able to use against someone who might end up our nominee.

But I'm in a place where I'm not actively seeking any political jobs and I'm not in any sort of party leadership position.  And I fervently believe that we need a strong, intelligent, seasoned, and disciplined leader to emerge victorious from the 2016 contest.  In 2007-08, I believed that person was Hillary Clinton.  When I listen to her speak about issues I care about, I still feel in my gut, even more than before, that that person is Hillary Clinton.  

But the email thing still bugs me.  So I'd better figure it out.


  1. I am a white male liberal that's voted Demo my whole life. That being said, I cannot support Ms. Clinton because she is a part of the Democratic Party's problem. Unfortunately, she is deep into the good-ole boy system of her party. The system is broken. One person speaks to truth from the party; Mr. Bernie Sanders. He IS the best person for the job from either party. We (as a nation) need a leader with integrity, vision, and courage. I believe Bernie can succeed as he continues making a flank maneuver (in a way, the same strategy Trump is using) around the party bosses. He needs support. At this point, I don't care if he's lacking foreign diplomacy experience. Our country is not being eaten from without...

  2. I want to suggest you rethink a few things.

    First, the sense of urgency. The presidential election is fourteen months away, and the first primary voters do not go to the polls for five months. We don't need to decide on Hillary, Bernie, Donald, Jeb!, or someone else anytime soon. And for those of us in states with primaries or caucuses after Super Tuesday (March 1)-which includes both Washington and Oregon the decision we will face them is likely to be quite different than the decision we are considering now. The field of candidates will be far smaller, and we will have a stronger sense of the candidates, provided we are doing now what we should be doing: watching and listening to the candidates, not the pundits or spin doctors.

    Second, the "he lacks foreign policy experience" trope buys into ideas that I think are wrong-headed and dangerous. Personal experience is not essential. In my lifetime we have elected exactly one new president with foreign policy experience: George H.W. Bush. (Two if you give Nixon credit for his kitchen-table debate with Khruschev). When we elect someone, we don't just get them, we get a whole team. If Bernie gets elected he won't be our Secretary of State, someone more qualified for the job will be. But we'll be okay.

    Third, the whole electability thing is self-defeating. Democrats are going to vote for their nominee, Republicans are going to vote for theirs and which way the election goes will depend on which side is more enthusiastic and whether the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, throwing us back into recession. Don't talk yourself into being less enthusiastic about the eventual nominees. And don't worry about the email; the email is just part of the right's anti-Democratic noise machine. Instead, worry about whether Hillary gets Republicans more excited and unified than she does Democrats.

    Finally, what matters most is not what happens at the top, but what happens to the Congress (and state legislatures). None of the candidates can deliver what they are promising without changing who is in Congress.