I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton because I think she is the perfect candidate. Actually, I’d prefer Joe Biden, and I voted for John Kasich in the primary.
I wouldn’t hold Clinton’s character up as a model for my 3-year-old granddaughter to emulate. Her average disapproval rating on the six national polls I looked at was 56%. So why am I planning on voting for a flawed person?
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good
I became an adult in the midst of the turmoil of the 1960s when it was fashionable among young people to be idealistic and critical of “business as usual.” We were against conformity of every kind. The irony, of course, is that we all wore jeans, work shirts and aviator sunglasses.
In some ways that idealism was noble, even what I would call Christian. We protested against racism and an unjust, misguided war in Vietnam. We were disillusioned by the behavior of Richard Nixon. We were becoming aware of how pollution was making our global home unsafe for habitation.
We self-righteously became mad as hell, rebelled against a society that was corrupt and irredeemable and started the work of creating a better world for you and me. Fifty years down the road, I have to conclude that that way of looking at life was both inspiring and naïve. We had to regularly get stoned in order to maintain the illusion that this was all possible in the real world.
What happened was that thousands of long-haired hippy freaks got married, had kids and learned the hard way the difference between fantasy and reality. We learned that idealism and character are important, but so is competence and compromise. We learned that we ourselves were flawed spouses and imperfect parents and that, by extension, no political party will be able to transform earth into heaven. We learned that ideals are important for determining a direction for our lives but not very helpful for measuring the daily, one-step-at-a-time progress needed to move toward the goal.
Of course, Hillary showed poor judgment when she decided to use her private email server for State Dept. business. Granted she’s way too anal and private. Can I think of people I’d rather have running for office? Sure.
That said, she really is the best prepared candidate we’ve ever had.
The flaw in being anti-establishment
People who oppose Clinton say that she would, if elected, just continue Obama’s programs. That’s fine with me. Time Magazine reported that the country’s median household income rose last year by 5.6% to $56,526. When George W. Bush left office, the unemployment rate was 7.8%. During Barack Obama’s time in the White House that rate has steadily declined to 5.1% last month. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
A New York Times article dated 7/29/16 reported that “a long awaited rise in consumer spending from an improving job market and cheaper fuel prices is finally materializing,” and “the wages and salary component of compensation is now up 2.5% over the last year.”
Clearly our economic “vehicle” is heading in the right direction even though it’s not accelerating as fast as most of us would like. And even though this particular rising tide hasn’t lifted all boats, the data this year are a lot more encouraging than they were when Obama took office.
I’m happy that Mrs. Clinton would give us more of the same.
But there is a more profound reason why I will vote for a member of the “establishment.” If you look at the reasons for the gridlock in Congress, for that institution’s inability to get anything done, it’s the anti-establishment people who are gumming up the works.
Jonathan Rauch calls it the “chaos syndrome.” He said that to get stuff done, “you need to assemble these huge coalitions of 535 politicians on Capitol Hill, and tens of thousands of interest groups, and tens of millions of voters, and assemble all those in government. … That requires a lot of middlemen and lot of people in between doing a lot of bargaining and negotiation. You cut those people out, you get chaos.”
“What we have done over the last 40 or 50 years,” he argues, “is systematically attacked and weakened the parties, the political machines, the professionals, and insiders, and hacks, and all the tools that they use to get politicians to play well together. And with those gone, you get chaos.”
In other words, horse trading might not be very inspiring but it’s the way to “get stuff done.” I’ve told this joke before. They say that when two people get married, the two become one. The question is which one. “My way or the highway” doesn’t work in healthy relationships, nor does it work in politics — because politics is about relationships. When Ted Cruz was willing to shut down the government because of his “principles,” he created the kind of chaos Rauch is describing. The same thing with Rauner and Madigan, although power is part of the motivation, along with ideology.
Hillary might be stuffy and too tied to the establishment, but she knows how to “work the system.” I prefer halting, slow progress to chaos. I resonated with Bernie Sanders’ passion and ideals, but I didn’t vote for him in the primaries because his anti-establishment stance, I’m afraid, would get in the way of the incremental progress we need. History tells us that radical change almost always results in tyranny or chaos.
Mad as hell doesn’t produce healthy marriages or politics. As flawed as she is, I’m voting for Hillary.