Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary or Obama? Barack or Clinton?

U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama

I haven't endorsed a 2008 presidential candidate yet, but I drive an SUV with an Obama bumper sticker on the back. Despite my implicit endorsement of Barack Obama, I plan to plaster a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker on the same bumper once it arrives in the mail.

It seems I'm undecided, kind of. And it's a bad place to be, for I usually have already chosen a candidate at this point in the Primaries.

This time it's different, but not for a lack of good candidates. I love the whole idea of throwing away my vote on Dennis Kucinich. That will show them that they can't railroad me into supporting another mainstream candidate! But wasted the vote would be. Even John Edwards, who I also very much agree with on most of the issues is beyond capturing the nomination. And that's what really matters in the end - viability.

Which candidate has a real chance at winning the party nomination, and which candidate has a real chance of winning in November are of utmost importance for me at this point in my life. That doesn't mean that I would ever vote for a candidate that I didn't agree with on most of the issues, but it does mean that I no longer want my vote to fail.

Every four years I hope I'm doing the right thing, and I vote for who I believe will help the majority of Americans, and the world. I make my choice based upon a variety of inputs including what I've read, and what I've seen in the media. I also listen to what other people have to say. Finally, I listen to my heart. I have to have a good feeling for a candidate before I can vote for them. I have to believe that the candidate is honest. I have to believe that the candidate cares about the issues, and about the people, and not just about themselves, and obtaining power.

The candidate I choose doesn't have to be able to accomplish all the things they say they want to achieve during their time in office. I'm too old and wise to believe that one man, even the President of the United States, can go it alone. The President must be a person willing to work with both sides of the Isle. They must compromise despite all their campaign pledges to do otherwise.

Many people have criticized President Bill Clinton for having endorsed many programs which cut back on entitlements, as well as his lying to Congress about having an affair. I never thought that President Clinton owed anyone, except Hillary an explanation about his affair, and many of the changes in the entitlement programs protected those programs from cuts during the Bush years. Despite what people say about Bill Clinton his time in office was marked by growing prosperity, and peace. He left the nation with budget surpluses, and a world filled with people who respected the United States. Mr. Clinton was capable of compromise. He was a "middle of the roader", and he was attacked from both ends of the political spectrum for choosing the middle as his starting point.

Nowadays when asked why he felt he had failed to succeed in capturing enough votes to pass his administration's national health care plan Mr. Clinton wisely admits that he had asked for too much too soon from a Democratically led Congress. He admits this was his administration's biggest failure, and that if he had only asked for various smaller elements of the same package he could have achieved his goal. That's a big lesson for any President, and at the center of this learning process was Hillary Clinton. Despite her idealism she has certainly learned that compromise, and taking small cumulative steps is the way toward progress in the long run. This is not the Great Depression, and changing the national health care system despite the ongoing, and ever worsening crisis in health care won't come in one piece of legislation. Hillary certainly knows this better than anyone.

Now I have to ask, what would happen if Hillary Clinton were president? Would she be like Bill? Would she be able to accomplish what so many U.S. presidents have failed to do in the past - transition the nation to a single payer health care system? And what about all of the other programs which could help the middle class which have largely been turned upside down by the Bush Cronies? Would Hillary be able to make the difference so many people want?

My guess is that it all depends upon who is in Congress. If the Democrats take additional seats in the House, and Senate then Hillary could work toward creating a government that responds to the needs of the majority of people in this nation - instead of just to the rich.

But if Democrats fail to land additional seats then no matter how hard Hillary tries much of the legislation she hopes see passed might languish.

U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

And what of Barack Obama?

My heart tells me he is the more exciting candidate. He is a good looking young man, with a beautiful young wife. They are both well educated professionals. The Obama family are in fact this decade's Kennedy family. There's a lot of romance there, a lot of excitement, and people feel that. This is not to say that Mr. Obama isn't idealistic, or honest for he appears to be both. Nor is it possible to claim that Senator Obama isn't highly intelligent, and eloquent for he is impressive on both scales. It's just that he does shine very brightly indeed over the quiet, even awkward Hillary Clinton when placed on the same stage.

And perhaps that's why younger voters are so attracted to Obama, but it doesn't explain why I feel drawn to supporting his candidacy. For the record I am proud to say that I voted for Mr. Obama in his Senatorial campaign. He was the best candidate, and we Illinoisans were fortunate indeed to end up with a Senator so able as he. Yet what do I see in Obama, or what do I want to see in Obama that makes me want to support his candidacy for the nation's highest office?

And that's where I find myself trapped. Do I vote for an individual because of his potential, and his sincerity, or do I vote for a woman because of her years of experience, and her practical willingness to compromise?

It really all depends upon Congress. If the Democrats gain additional seats in the House, and Senate, and take the Executive Office as well, then it won't matter whether it's Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton that sits in the oval office, but if the legislative branch is as nearly divided as it is today the nation will need a cold blooded realist, and a president willing to compromise - one with experience on the Hill. Senator Clinton comes with that experience, while Mr. Obama does not.

So despite all of the excitement, including my own, about supporting Barack Obama I'm quietly convinced that Hillary Clinton would make the better president.

Having said that, I'm not sure if she'd make the better candidate, or if she can win the presidency. I feel Barack Obama has a better chance of winning in the general election. Which brings me full circle, for I don't want to vote for someone if I think that person has no chance of winning.

So I'm watching, and waiting for a sign that Hillary Clinton could win in November, and I'm waiting for a sign that Barack Obama is a very fast learner, and despite his hope to be a president for change that he'll also be able to play the Washington game so well that at least some of what he promises will come to fruition.

The coming weeks will tell the story. We are living in an interesting historic moment. Who will fight for the middle class this coming November? Who will take the government back from the evil regime that grabbed control seven years ago? Hopefully it will be either Senator Clinton, or Senator Obama, and that much I can endorse.

Democrat Donkey: I Endorse The Democratic Party 2008 Presidential Candidate


Michael Mapes said...

Maybe these posts will help you decide on Hillary?

However you choose thanks for being a democrat.

nancy said...

Really good post. Very thoughtful.

Thane Eichenauer said...

The only (first) question worth asking of any candidate in this election is "Will you get the US Army out of Iraq?"
The only (second) question worth asking is "How soon?"
Every other question is of lesser importance that those.

email jp






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