Although we find much to admire in the initiatives put forth by all three of the Democratic presidential contenders, we believe the best candidate is Hillary Clinton.
If there’s one theme that’s characterized this election season, it is discontent. This is an understandable reaction to an impaired government in Washington, where partisanship and scoring political points, rather than doing the job of bettering the lives of all Americans, has become the goal of too many.
On the Democratic presidential ballot, the theme of discontent has given rise to an energetic response to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The self-described “democratic socialist” advocates replacing the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid with universal health care, which he calls “Medicare for all.” He calls for tuition-free public college and expanding, rather than reining in, Social Security. He has positioned himself as the champion of the middle class, which desperately needs one.
We largely agree with many of Sanders’ positions, and we hope there will be a place for his ideas on the agenda of our next president. But successful politics is very much the art of the possible, and there are constitutional limits to a president’s power that don’t allow for broad reshaping of how our government works without the consent of Congress. We don’t believe, given the scope of Sanders’ policies, that he’ll be able to put his plans into action. Further, we’re somewhat skeptical of the cumulative financial implications of his grand plans.
We’re also impressed by former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Several of the ideas put forth by Clinton and Sanders were first proposed by O’Malley, and some are policies he successfully implemented in Maryland. In another year, his candidacy might have taken flight, and we hope we see him on the national stage again.
But to us, the candidate with the best chance of implementing change, where needed, is Clinton.
From her stint as perhaps the most active first lady in shaping national policy since Eleanor Roosevelt, to her time as a U.S. senator, representing New York, to her role as secretary of state, Clinton has more than proven herself a smart, energetic and capable public servant.
She is, to some, a polarizing figure, long vilified by conservative pundits and candidates. But we believe the bulk of that ire is manufactured. The “scandals” that have followed her, including several lengthy investigations into the attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, have proven to be little more than political bluster. The ongoing investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state could yet prove to be more substantive, though many public officials have done the same, including other candidates in this year’s primaries and other secretaries of state. We wish her campaign was less managed — witness the corralling of reporters and onlookers at some of her rallies in the Granite State — but she’s been a political target, and under Secret Service watch, for so long that such caution is understandable, if not always warranted.
Overall, we feel such concerns are far outweighed by what she brings to the table. Clinton’s long and varied experience has included working across the aisle with Republicans on a range of initiatives. As first lady, she fought for universal health care, and succeeded in pushing the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In the Senate, she worked with leaders of both parties to better care for veterans and improve the lives of families and children. As secretary of state, she helped restore our global reputation, pushing for sanctions on Iran and a harder line in Syria, while advocating for the poor and disenfranchised everywhere.
Eight years ago we endorsed Clinton for the Democratic nomination, citing her ideas on health care, her experience on the international front and her ability to get things done in a fractured Washington. Since then, she’s gained experience in international policy and the country has endured, though not without pain, a frightful economic recession. And Washington is, arguably, more fractured than ever.
But despite much national hand-wringing, there has been much progress during the past eight years. By almost any measure, the U.S. economy is moving forward. Almost every American who wants it now has access to health care coverage. And despite the threat posed by religious or political extremists, we are a nation more at peace.
It’s our belief that Clinton is best positioned to build on the successes of the past eight years; to make the necessary changes to the Affordable Care Act without tearing it down; to continue moving the economy in the right direction; to work to minimize the threat of climate change while creating, rather than costing, jobs; to work toward reversing the increasing disparity of wealth; and to build consensus to break through the logjam on the issues of gun violence and immigration. We also see her as more than capable of defending our national interests and serving as commander-in-chief.
The nation needs a leader not just of ideas but with the experience, capability and promise to work across the political divide to move the country forward. Those casting ballots in the primary would serve the nation well by voting to make Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party’s nominee.