As ready as I’m supposed to be for Hillary Clinton, I have to admit that I find it hard to trust her – at least on the issues I care about most when it comes to the presidency.
Let me be clear: I think she is one of the most qualified people to be president that the nation has seen in a long time. Certainly her long record of public service in so many different roles will have given her the skills to be an effective president.
And that’s what worries me. What would she apply that effectiveness to achieve?
For many progressives, the vital distinguishing feature in 2008 between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was her vote in favor of war with Iraq. Obama proved to be the more prescient and principled in criticizing the rush to war, and that counted for a lot. Times have changed as the decade-plus of wars have dragged out, so maybe she would make different decisions now. But seeing as we always have Republicans clamoring for war somewhere all the time, I worry if she would push back well enough. While I oppose how Barack Obama has used our military across the globe – especially the drone war – at least he has resisted the calls to bomb Iran. More of that kind of resistance would be welcome.
Also, I have virtually no confidence that she’s willing to stand up to wealthy interests. She – and Bill, for that matter – have a long history of cozying up to wealth. It’s a central concern of mine that we find more effective and comprehensive ways to guarantee that everyone gets the necessities of life – food, shelter, education, medical care, etc. While the arc of history has bent this way (most recently with the Affordable Care Act), it’s always a hard slog. It’s that much sloggier when our leaders seem to buy into what I see as one of the central myths of our time: just take care of the wealthy and powerful, and they’ll take care of you. I’m not sure she would be a “champion”, so much as a go-between.
Of course, Hillary Clinton is likely to be far better than any candidate the Republicans would put forward on these issues. And in voicing these concerns, I fully realize that I mark myself as part of the left wing that Clinton seemingly has no need to please.
So where does that leave me right now, a ridiculously long way from the actual election? Would I or would I not vote for her?
Yes, probably – but not mainly because of her or her policies. Mostly I would want to make sure we get the kind of Supreme Court nominees that would come from a Democratic administration rather than a Republican one. A sad state of affairs indeed.
As always, having nothing but bad choices always makes me yearn for a different electoral system that would make other voices competitive. Under a different system, she might win the Democratic nomination – and general election – regardless. But at least she’d be forced to confront a more credible threat to the seeming inevitability of her victories.