Someone asked me this the other day and I began to think about it. I had the luxury of two days hiking in Pt. Reyes seashore, and this question kept coming to mind, so I pondered it. Here’s what I came up with:
Over the years, I have developed a deep respect for Hillary Clinton. She is the real thing. I’m constantly frustrated that the picture the media presents doesn’t fairly represent the Hillary that stands out when one takes the time to learn about her. When we hear her real voice, rather than the voice of the media, we hear a voice of vision, integrity, and courage.
There is clarity about her. There is no gap between what she says and what she does. People don’t always see this, but after careful scrutiny, I believe it is true. She has held a vision of a new America since her early days at Wellesley in student government and at Yale Law, and in her work with the Children’s Defense Fund, and in her marriage to Bill Clinton, and throughout her years teaching in Arkansas, being a mother, raising a lovely daughter, working in law and serving on corporate boards to support her family. And in each of her endeavors, she has worked that vision . . . one step at a time.
She has paid her dues. Hillary has worked intensely at everything she has done, including being a first-rate senator.
Her rhetoric is not glitzy. It is clear and true.
She operates from her heart while she uses her head, and she has a first-rate mind. Each policy that she develops holds that early vision. To quote Robin Morgan, “ She’s a high-profile candidate with an enormous grasp of foreign and domestic policy nuance, dedication to detail, ability to absorb staggering insult and personal pain while retaining dignity, resolve, even humor, and keep on keeping on.”
I trust her. I trust her to safeguard the gains that women have made in reproductive rights, family planning, equality in the workplace. And though we all wish she hadn’t voted to authorize force in Iraq, I even trust her reasoning, as her speech to the senate detailed her belief that President Bush would use the solidarity of that vote to achieve a diplomatic solution together with our allies and use force only as a last resort. That’s what she would have done. I trust her to use the power of the presidency with moral integrity.
So, what about these five qualities in Barack Obama? Interestingly, I came up with these reasons for caring so much by backtracking from the things that worry me about Barack Obama.
Barack Obama’s rhetoric doesn’t match his record. He talks of change, but he has never really taken a stand on anything. How do you make change without taking a stand? For example, he spoke against the Iraq war in 2002, but since becoming a senator he has voted twice to fund that same war. And while being against the Iraq war, he has stated that he wouldn’t hesitate to use force against a country that is harboring terrorists. This kind of disconnect between rhetoric and record worries me deeply.
He has not paid his dues. Instead, he is in a big hurry. He has developed intellect, but true wisdom comes from bridging the gap between intellect and what actually needs to happen to accomplish things. How can one truly lead without wisdom? Intellect alone gets us into trouble. Isn’t there something deeply important about fulfilling the trust of a senate seat? About having the humility to learn the ropes before forging ahead? About thanking those that helped you get there by doing the job you were sent to do? About learning the vast complexities of governing in this age of deep ecological interdependence and terrorism born of misunderstanding?
While two important senators from Massachusetts supported Barack in his quest for the presidency, I fear that their motives were more about not electing Hillary Clinton than in electing Barack Obama. Yet they gave his candidacy needed legitimacy. Rather, that legitimacy should come from eight more years in the senate to mature his vision with some practical Washington know-how.
His rhetoric is evangelistic, and I fear evangelism. I fear tactics that use the evangelism of the pulpit for political gain. I fear the glow of Hollywood stars reigning celebrity status on an individual because they are caught up in the message rather than the ability to carry it out. I fear preying on the dreams of youth who are afraid of their future and who follow the pied piper because they think he will show them the way out of the complexities of the world they will inherit.
He hasn’t yet opened his heart. He has the rhetoric of hope and vision. This comes from the head. From the heart comes honesty. From the heart comes humility. From the heart comes true compassion born of failure and humiliation, yet getting up and going on. I have hope that he will develop his heart. Eight more years in the senate will help a lot.
I don’t trust him. I don’t trust that he has yet developed the moral integrity to wield the power of the presidency. He’s too inexperienced to be president. Even if his policies seem sound, (which many don’t), I lack trust that he knows how to carry them out. I don’t trust that he would safeguard the gains that women have made in reproductive rights. Additionally, I don’t trust that he would be straight with us. He consistently misrepresents Hillary Clinton’s positions in the campaign. I expect he would enlist the same speech-writers to sell us on whatever he wants to sell, just as he is selling youth and white males on his ability to be president. He admires Ronald Regan for just this quality. I didn’t trust Ronald Regan. Why should I trust Barack Obama?
These are the reasons why I care so much about the outcome of this primary and why I blog, and talk, and send money, and phone, and why I nag others to do the same. I have this deep conviction that Hillary Clinton will not only be a good president, but that together with a democratic house and senate, she will be a great president. I want to do all I can to help that happen.