Disclaimer: This post is my opinion and I'm entitled to it. If you are a Republican, this might not be the post for you. Perhaps you should just move along. Disagree with me? Great! You are entitled to your opinion too. Send me a comment and I'll tell you why you're wrong.
I've been reading a lot recently about the problem Hillary Clinton is having with young people so far in the 2016 Presidential race. Polls are showing that they aren't generally in her corner. They don't feel inspired by her. They don't care for her pragmatic, straight forward way or her "entitled" background. They want someone with bigger vision who can make them feel like everything is OK. Someone like the Barack Obama of 2008. Someone like the Bernie Sanders of 2016. Time Magazine writes: "Bernie rallies are like being swept off one’s feet for the revolution; Clinton’s are like meetings with a financial planner. Hardly inspiring."
Indeed, a big, inspiring vision is essential to being a leader, not to mention to being the President of the United States. But having a strategy to execute your vision is just as important; having the plans, the resources, the relationships and the drive to actually realize change, not just pontificate about it. To not care about always being liked or pissing people off. Knowing when to stand your ground and knowing when to compromise. To admit you are wrong and change your stance when the evidence - or popular opinion - proves you wrong. To make things happen.
Bernie Sanders has big vision. He has exciting talking points that are wooing millennials and gen-x'ers alike. He's proposing grand socialist fixes for a lot of real American problems. Does he have a plan for executing his vision once he gets in the White House? A real strategy for reaching across the aisles and garnering support for his ideas from both Republicans and Democrats? A plan on how to pay for it all? I don't know. But I know who does.
Hillary's life experience has led her to this moment. She has been active in public service since attending Wellesley in the 1960s and then Yale Law School. She worked under Senator Walter Mondale, and for both George McGovern and Jimmy Carter's presidential campaigns in the '70s. In 1988 and 1991, The National Law Journal named her one of the "100 most powerful lawyers in America." She helped Bill Clinton get elected as Attorney General then Governor of Arkansas, then eventually two-term President of the United States.
Hillary served an active role as First Lady, most notably championing Health Care Reform. She wanted to be a Senator from New York. She became a Senator. In 2008 she wanted to be President. Well, that didn't work out (yet) but based on her experience she was appointed to arguably the next best thing to round out her experience: U.S. Secretary of State.
Is there anyone in the race on either side who has a better pedigree to be President?
She has the experience. She's built the network. She has the strategies.
Will we always agree with everything she does? No, probably not. But our country can't afford to take our time and figure things out. We can't afford a steep learning curve. Or someone who doesn't know the fastest route to executing his vision. We need someone who can jump in and take the reins. Who knows foreign policy and the players involved. Who is tough and forceful and fearless.
Barack Obama is a great man and has been a great President. He is a passionate speaker and motivator. His notable successes - the Affordable Care Act, Marriage Equality, the abolition of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," taking out Osama bin Laden, getting us out of a recession and to a 4.9% unemployment rate - have all been historic...and we need another Democrat in the White House to continue what he started.
But did Obama come into the White House in 2008 fully prepared to operationalize his vision for change? I don't think there's any argument among Democrats that it took a while for Obama to hit his stride. And his ideas weren't nearly as radical as Sanders'. I think a Sanders Presidency would be even more dubious. As very smartly noted by Isaac Fornarola in The Huffington Post: "the likelihood of Bernie's ability to effect revolutionary change in the areas where he shines, which are not ones in which the President typically has much sway, seems slim."
I would argue that a Hillary presidency would be just the opposite. Sure, she is loathed by many outspoken members of the Republican party, but that's inevitable for any Democratic President. Her edge is that she knows the system. You can't game the system if you haven't played the game, right? Plus her moderate stance on many issues should lead to more bipartisan support in Congress. This is where I take issue with the label of "establishment" being a negative. I would argue her knowledge of the process and the players puts her at a distinct advantage to be more effective...immediately.
Hillary may not be dazzling you with a big vision and promising the moon and the stars. This might make her less attractive to those who want to be wooed by big ideas of change but not interested as much in the messy realism behind them. Those who are knowledgeable about the issues but clueless on how politics and progress really work.
Anyone asking for your vote has a responsibility to grapple with reality—to see things as they actually are, not just as we want them to be.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 16, 2016
What they (young people, especially) also might not get is that what Hillary has already achieved and accomplished in her life and career is what is inspiring about her. The glass ceilings she's crashed through to give them the equal rights they take for granted. They don't appreciate the substance of her experience or the tenacity she would have for representing the issues they care about. Let's hope she finds a way to communicate that to them, and soon.
Because what Hillary is promising us is action. Equality. Persistence. Experience. Exactly what we need in a climate of escalating gun violence and threats of terrorism; volatile foreign conflict; perpetuating racial, gender and sexual discrimination; a widening wealth gap; and an unprecedented environmental crisis.
Has she made some mistakes? Sure. Do you know any politicians - male or female - who haven't? Who don't have a skeleton or two in their closets? Isn't what matters that we have a leader who has the ability to move this country forward and protect its citizens?
As Tina Fey said on SNL back in 2008:
I'll take a get-er-done bitch over an old, socialist, white guy from Vermont any day of the week.
Bitch is the new black. Bossy is the new black.
Oh and P.S. I refrained from specifically talking about how Hillary is, in fact, a woman; and that I, too, am a woman, because her having a va-jay-jay is not the reason I think she should be Pres. But seriously, how momentous would it be to help elect our first female President? It's meaningful, whether you want to admit it or not, especially in a country where women still earn $0.79 to men's $1.00. I, for one, am more than ready to have a woman come into office and whip these misogynistic old men into shape. Our rights as women (and, to be honest, people in general) are in real jeopardy if a Republican like Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Marco Rubio becomes our next President. Think about it. It's scary shit. For all you ladies out there: this is bigger than all of us. And not something to take lightly.
"All of us Democrats have a responsibility to make sure a Republican doesn’t win and rip away all the progress we've made." —Hillary in CO— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 14, 2016