Sunday, November 6, 2016

Madame President Hillary Rodham Clinton. My Vote Explained. A Case for Clinton.

I'm a social liberal and a fiscal conservative who'll be voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton is a competent candidate and has the potential to be a good president. As a fiscal conservative I'd have loved to cast a vote for Jeb Bush or John Kasich but I cannot, in good conscience vote for Donald J. Trump. EVEN IF TRUMP BECOMES PRESIDENT IT'LL BE WITHOUT MY VOTE. MY VOTE COUNTS. A TRUMP PRESIDENCY WILL NOT BE UPON MY CONSCIENCE.

Hillary Clinton, let's be clear, is NOT the 'lesser of the two evils'. This column will argue that African-Americans, Progressives, those concerned about Climate Change, those concerned about tuition cost and student debt, those concerned about affirmative action, those concerned about human rights and everything that a decent citizen would desire to see progress on should choose, affirmatively, Hillary Clinton.

 A woman who has released 30 years of tax returns is rated as less honest than a guy who refused to release his tax returns and sheepishly admitted to not paying federal income taxes for decades. Give me a break. A guy who regularly stiffed those who did work for him is rated as more honest than Clinton. In what moral universe are we even pretending that Trump and Clinton are interchangeable commodities?

A few snippets from Clinton's career to illustrate her character, first positively and then to highlight those that remain her challenges or weakness.

A newly minted first lady took on the herculean task of cleaning the aegean stables of America's healthcare system. Like Clinton loves to say, "before Obamacare there was Hillarycare". Hillary's attempt crashed and burned facing opposition from Republicans, the healthcare industry and democrats too. The failure almost derailed the nascent presidency of Bill Clinton. Hillary was humiliated and humbled before the nation but she was not to be kept down. She picked herself up, went back to the same Congress that defeated her, worked with the same opponents and rescued an insurance plan for children amidst the wreckage that was her healthcare reform plan. Millions of children have benefited from CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Plan). The defeat left lasting scars on Hillary's experience. Never again in her political life would she attempt grandiose plans. She opted, instead, for incrementalism. This cost her dearly against the soaring dreamy oratory of Obama in 2008 and almost cost her again against Sanders's 'political revolution'. Only, in 2016 a smarter Hillary had retooled her campaign and was well suited up to meet any insurgence from the left flank of the party. Economist quotes Don Nickles, a former republican congressman who helped defeat Hillarycare, "She's a likable person. When it comes to dealing with Congress, she'd be a big improvement on Barack Obama".

Firemen typically vote Republican but when New York City firemen, the first responders on 9-11, needed help they turned to the newly elected junior senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. Clinton went after the Bush administration that was trying to downplay the health effects of working in World Trade Center. She created a health care plan for the affected responders. She also secured from Bush billions for New York City as restoration funds. While many pillory her comfort with and her ties to Wall Street they don't realize that Wall Street is indeed NYC's cash cow for taxes and funds. Clinton went to Wall Street, not to line her pockets, but to raise money for NYC. A woman who was called 'Carpetbagger' for contesting from a state where she had never lived won re-election and every primary election held in New York. Sure, she fell short of her promises to create jobs in New York but it was not for lack of trying, as a New York Times investigation pointed out. Economist quotes Tom Reynolds, "a former Republican congressman who collaborated with her in upstate New York, 'She's hard working, true to her word and very professional'".

Michael Morell, a 33 year veteran at CIA, a former acting-director and deputy director, under Republican and Democratic presidents, wrote in New York Times that he'd vote for Hillary Clinton. Morell wrote that while working with Clinton in the Situation Room he saw that she was "detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument". More importantly "she did not bring politics into the room". Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Michael Bloomberg to name a few have all crossed party lines to endorse Clinton not just because they hate Trump but also because of the immense respect they have for Clinton.

When African-Americans shrug at voting for Clinton and compare the history making excitement for Obama they're missing a vital point. The Supreme Court is hanging in balance. Since Scalia died affirmative action got a reprieve in the Abigail Fischer case else it would have been wiped out from American universities. Let's face it, come November 9th it is only either Clinton or Trump as President-elect. A Trump presidency will wreck havoc for African-Americans. Imagine Rudy Guiliani or Chris Christie as attorney general and then cast your vote. The Clintons have expressed regret for the unintended consequences of the crime bill and Hillary has promised Criminal Justice Reform. Tell the Congressional Black Caucus to hold her to that promise else vote against Clinton in 2020. Do you think a President Trump would open his doors to John Lewis and talk about police brutality? If you say yes then maybe you can remain home instead of voting.

Above all get this straight, you'd have personally helped elect a racist as a president. You'd have helped elect a guy who'll demolish and discredit everything Obama had done and while doing so he'd be gleefully heaping more verbal insults on Obama. This is not fear mongering into voting for Hillary but a reality.

Now, the progressives. Get over Bernie Sanders's loss in the primary. Sanders lost fair and square and he knows it. Donna Brazile's shenanigans and DNC did not sway the election to Clinton. Sanders, though he lost, achieved a bit. He entered the Democratic party and has influenced it's direction. If you want action on Climate change Hillary Clinton who, as New York Times pointed out, has a detailed plan to combat it. Do you think for a moment the GOP or Trump give two hoots about climate change? They'd laugh you out of the room.

It is ironical that Clinton takes a lot of flak for her changing stance on TPP but Obama completely escapes censure. It is Obama, the anti-NAFTA candidate of 2008, who should really be called out on this flip-flop. Also, those who rail against Clinton for her prodigious fundraising are forgetting many things. Clinton's fundraising has helped down ballot democrats unlike Obama who used his fundraising prowess mostly in his own service. It was Obama who broke, after promising to take public funds and the restrictions that come with it, the post-Nixon tradition of accepting public funds. Yet, too often the ugly label of 'liar' is easily applied to Clinton.

Obamacare is a financial boondoggle where the buyer and seller are both subsidized with taxpayer money. It is in a financial death spiral. That said, Obamacare has expanded insurance to millions and needs to be rescued. Good luck trying to get that rescued with a Trump presidency. Sure, many like to see a public option floated, I don't, but that's beside the point. A president Clinton will at least bend her ear to that option. Healthcare reform is near and dear to Clinton's heart. If there is one are where I trust her more than anything it is in fixing Obamacare. Note, when candidate Obama pretended that healthcare reform could be done without personal mandate it was Clinton who cried hoarse that it cannot be done. She was vindicated. Clinton's tenaciousness, lack of dogmatic adamance and pragmatism will all be brought to bear on this vital issue. We all know that while the GOP and Trump will trample on Obamacare they've no idea of what to replace it with. So if in your self-righteous anger you want to stiff Clinton, go ahead and waste your vote but roll the dice on the a Trump presidency.

Clinton, if she wins the election, will do so on the shoulders on Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Sanders and Warren will undoubtedly play important roles in influencing policy in a Clinton presidency. They will be the channels for progressives to  pressure a president Clinton. If Clinton turns out to be, as you all say, a liar then primary her in 2020 and defeat her. Or work to elect a progressive Congress in 2018 midterm elections and foil her agenda but give your vote to her now to stop Trump. Giver Clinton your vote and keep her in your debt. Elizabeth Warren has shown that she'll not shy from a fight even if it is against the president of her own party. Do you progressives want to put in the White House a guy who still ridicules Warren as "Pocahontas"? A president Trump will show the middle finger to both Sanders and Warren.

Why am I voting for Hillary Clinton despite my deep aversion of liberal economics and my loathing of Warren, Sanders and the progressives? Simple, in my order of priorities the damage due to misguided economic policies can be addressed far more easily than tearing the American society apart along racial and ethnic lines as Trump would do.

The danger of Trump in the presidency is not theoretical or exaggerated. While Clinton's punchline "can we trust nuclear codes to a guy who can be baited with a tweet" is campaign rhetoric about an opponent it is, sadly, every bit true. Today there's news that Trump's campaign managers, the adults in the team, have confiscated his twitter account till election day lest he goes off on his tweet storm and becomes the news, in an unwelcome manner. Make no mistake voters, Trump is a man-child.

Recently Trump said to himself at a rally "stay on point Donald. Stay on point. Nice and easy". Trump is now essentially tethered to a teleprompter and for once he's staying with it. This was the same guy who used to mock Obama's reliance on teleprompter. Nobody thinks Obama would talk nonsense or offend an international ally if his teleprompter stopped working and nobody thinks Trump can talk any sense if his teleprompter breaks.

Trump's ignorance is staggering, his complete inability to learn anything has been proven time and time again. During the all three debates Trump could be focused for only the first 30 minutes each time. Voters, there is no other Trump waiting to show up, this is it. This is the Trump we get as president.

For a fiscal conservative as me Trump is reckless on economics and he's an insult to the word 'businessman'. It is not without reason that less than a handful of his peers have endorsed him whereas businessmen and CEOs have endorsed Clinton by the legions. Many of those have never voted for a democrat.

We often hear that the press is in the tank for Clinton. That's a lie (see my earlier column ). But let's pause and think as to why Trump has managed just one or two endorsements whereas Clinton has practically landed every newspaper endorsement across the country. Whether newspaper endorsements matter is a different question but we should ask ourselves why does an Arizona newspaper which has never endorsed a democrat in 100+ years endorse Clinton? Why do newspapers that traditionally do not endorse democrats do so for Clinton, yes that very Clinton, this year? Then we've newspapers like USA Today, Foreign Policy, Atlantic Monthly that normally don't get into endorsements writing editorials shredding Donald Trump and voicing support for Clinton? We've to note that the Arizona newspaper and others have received hundreds of subscription cancellations, abuses from readers and even death threats. So why did they do it? The Trump presidency is a dark threat to the republic and they realize it, that's why.

I'm fully opposed to liberal economics, affirmative action, misguided government actions to combat climate change and I support free trade so why would I support Clinton? Is it because I think 'crooked Hillary' is a closet republican? Far from it, the clear and present danger of Trump overrides all those concerns. I'll not vote for Trump saying "oh I worry about Supreme Court judges". Do I trust Trump to carry out intelligent decisions on anything? No, I don't.

I've complete contempt for Republicans who say "I find Trump intolerable, I condemn his bigotry but other larger issues are at play and I cannot vote for Clinton". This is nonsense. Hillary Clinton is NOT an interchangeable commodity with Trump. Anderson Cooper of CNN told Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway today that we criticize the Clinton Foundation so much because we happen to know everything they did thanks to tax releases, documents released (by them and by wikileaks) but we know next to nothing of Trump's foundation or his businesses. It is appalling that very little attention has been paid to Trump's sprawling and interconnected business across the globe. While Hillary has been asked about how they would handle Clinton foundation if she wins the election nobody has bothered to ask Trump what he'd do about his businesses.

While I cheerfully vote for Clinton I'm well aware that Sanders and Warren will overreach in their zeal to impose a socialistic vision on the economy. They're welcome to do it but voters will teach them the lessons Obama was taught in the midterm elections. Socialist overreach produced tea party. So roll your dice.

All that said here are my irritations about the Clintons. In 2008 when McCain out Palin on the ticket I recoiled with horror and wrote "Go home McCain, Palin first". MY objections to Trump are akin to my objections against McCain-Palin ticket except that they were far less an existential threat to the nature of the country thanks to somebody like McCain on the ticket but were a clueless bunch in a very dangerous time. In 2012 I voted for Mitt Romney. Unlike Romney the Clintons have earned nearly $200 Million purely by influence peddling. This is why they don't appreciate handwork and don't understand, like Obama too doesn't, that money is to be 'earned'. Trust me, Obama will become the richest ex-president in no time. Also, Obama will be doing his own influence peddling to raise $1 billion for his presidential library during his lame duck status and I'm sure a thankful Hillary will help in fundraising too. This is a sickness of American politics. Sanders too is not immune to it as he showed with the foundation he created after his candidacy ended.

Hillary Clinton is a public servant and she needs to remember that. Too often the Clintons skate to the very edges of the law and then act injured when partisan opponents use that as leverage to launch investigations. Shut the damn foundation down or hand it over to Bill Gates or Jimmy Carter. Yes, the foundation has indeed done admirable work on behalf of millions of HIV affected in Africa but all the good in the world does not excuse the ethical breaches that it has committed. Obama, to his credit, gave us completely scandal free White House. The Clintons, if they are capable of it at all, should live up to it.

A New York Times article today screams that Clinton aides will enter White House with baggage. The article is unfair in singling out the Clinton aides alone. Both candidates have eager supporters or surrogates who are waiting to dip their beaks into the gravy train if their candidate wins. On the Clinton side at least it is people with experience and judgment albeit with some less than stellar qualities but the Trump surrogates are mostly political has-beens itching to get their way back into the echelons of power. Ever since the GOP establishment shunned Trump those that had, like Newt Gingrich and Rudy Guiliani, fallen by the wayside of GOP have wormed their way to the political stage and are salivating over plum positions in a Trump administration.

Hillary needs to enter the White House with a retinue of talented people who are unsullied by recent shenanigans. Cheryl Mills, John Podesta and Huma Abedin, to name a few, should not find a place in any White House position. The role of Bill Clinton needs to be defined. But I doubt if sanity will prevail. The Clintons prize loyalty above probity.

During the campaign Hillary acknowledged the trust issue and said she needs to earn the trust from Americans but she has till now shown very little direction over how she'd earn it back. Hopefully we'll hear more once the heat of the campaign is over and she's lucky to win.

Post-election this will not just be a divided nation but a nation where once unsullied institutions like the FBI have become tainted. There is staggering amount of healing required. Trump is incapable of any healing and hopefully will not be the president. A president-elect Hillary Clinton's first order of business would be to build bridges. In that I've full faith in Hillary given her record of reaching out and winning over the harshest partisan opponents. However, if the GOP decides that a scorched earth approach of launching pointless virulently partisan investigations and even an impeachment then they deserve to be in the doghouse for another 8 years. The GOP, if it ever wants to be the party of Reagan and Lincoln it needs to clean it's own house and that will not happen easily. BY cooperating with President Hillary Clinton to create a better America the GOP may, just may, redeem itself.

I'm of the firm view that Donald Trump should be decisively rejected at the ballot box and a vote for Hillary Clinton is the only effective way to achieve that. 


G. said...

Well argued as have been other articles on this election. You made my day. Now if only I could persuade you to acknowledge how awful Tom Hulse's Amadeus was with his Southern California accent ...

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Vinoth Thiyagarajan said...

Fantastic explanation! Thanks for write-up