Processing Hillary’s candidacy and experiencing liberal guilt
I will state at the outset that, if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, I will not hesitate to vote for her. As a Democrat, I like all of “our” candidates better than any of “their” candidates. And eight years of a Republican in the White House has been quite enough for me. But, it’s the idea of Hillary’s getting the Democratic nomination that I’m feeling conflicted about. When it comes to Hillary, I am deeply ambivalent. In that feeling, I am not alone.
Maureen Dowd of the New York Times said of Hillary, if it weren’t for nepotism, “Hillary would be running for President of Vassar.” That statement makes great copy, but it’s not entirely true. And it’s more than just a little piggy, Maureen.
After all, who is to say what Hillary might have accomplished on her own if she had never met and married Bill Clinton, her Yale law-school classmate? Perhaps she would have returned to Illinois and been elected to the Senate from that, her home state. Perhaps she would have joined a prominent law firm in New York and rose to legal stardom, instead of joining the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Perhaps she would still be running for president of the United States. We will never know.
Hillary is certainly more than capable of occupying the White House as its 44th president. She is smart, disciplined, and accomplished. She has served in the U.S. Senate for six years, having served on the Armed Services Committee; the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee; and the Committee on Environment and Public Works. She has traveled the world, first as First Lady and then as a United States senator. Having had the benefit (and folly) of living in the White House for eight years, Hillary has experienced first hand what many have never imagined. She has met most of the world’s leaders and would require less on-the-job training than many of her rivals.
I’m not saying that Hillary’s experience as First Lady qualifies her to run for the Oval Office. But I think that her six years in the Senate, combined with her other life experiences, give her a more impressive résumé than George W. Bush had when he decided to run. And, it’s certainly more impressive than Mayor Giuliani’s, her front-running Republican counterpart who’s running on the memory of 9/11 to become America’s mayor.
It’s not Hillary’s experience or competence that gives me pause. It’s something else and it’s hard to articulate. Polls find her “polarizing.” Democrats wonder aloud whether she’s “electable.” Personally, I don’t think she would be as polarizing as the current occupant of the White House has been. And, I would like to think that, if nominated, she could win. But I have to admit I do have my doubts.
And along with my doubting, up bubbles my liberal guilt. I question myself. Am I
being harder on Hillary because she’s a woman? Am I holding her to a higher standard than I would a man? Those are legitimate questions that every Democrat should contemplate before they reject Hillary’s candidacy and her ability to win out of hand.
I have carefully considered those questions and I have satisfied myself that, while I think she is qualified to serve, she is not my first choice to carry the Democratic banner. I’ve convinced myself that there is at least one other Democrat who would better serve the party and the country.
And my decision has nothing to do with the gender of the candidates.
On the contrary, I’m excited about the prospect of finally having a woman in the White House, and not as First Lady.
Just as I am excited about the prospect of finally having an African American, or an Hispanic, in the White House. I am proud when I watch a Democratic presidential debate and see that the Democratic presidential candidates—unlike their all white, male Republican counterparts—are finally starting to resemble the face of America.
Whoever the Democratic nominee is—man or woman, black, white, or brown—I will support them. I just hope it’s not Hillary.
I want to win the White House. I want the next person who appoints someone to the United States Supreme Court to be a Democrat more than I want it to be a woman. And I don’t think Hillary has the best chance of being that person—she’s simply not the most electable.
To be honest though, the issue of Hillary’s electability is incidental to my real reason for not supporting her in the primary. The real reason is that, the first time we elect a woman to the White House, I want to be excited by the woman, not because she is a woman. To me, the most exciting thing about Hillary’s getting elected is her gender.
And that’s just not a good enough reason for me to support her.
Writing from the liberal side, Houston attorney Daryl Moore has a general practice and is board certified in civil appellate law.