I know that a lot of people are planning to vote for Hilary Clinton tomorrow, and I’m still trying to figure out why. One of the main reasons given is that Clinton is “more experienced.”
This is true, to a certain extent. Clinton was probably as close to the White House as you can come without being the president. I’m not sure that experience, however, really sets her up to be a good president. It’s easy to think of the first Clinton as an outstanding president, especially when bracketed by two Bushes. But in practice, Clinton is likely to reinforce the same old patterns expected inside the beltway. Obama has enough experience to know a little bit about how the system gets played, and is not yet expert enough in that system to be invested in seeing it recreated.
Some like Obama, but figure he can run next time around, when he has gained more experience as a senator. Let me be clear here: I think he will be a worse president when he gains more experience in Washington. What is particularly galling is that those who vote for Clinton will, if she is elected, bemoan in two years that politics is corrupt and ineffective, even when they argued that experience in that corrupt and ineffective system was what they valued.
Some suggest that Clinton will be particularly effective on “women’s issues.” I don’t agree that, for example, abortion or equal rights are “women’s issues”; I think they are social issues. What we do know is that Clinton’s experience doesn’t give us much to go on when it comes to how effective she will be on women’s issues. I understand the urge to vote for a candidate because she is a woman–it is well past time we had a woman president–but I would rather see the best candidate as president regardless of that person’s gender.
Some say that Clinton is more “electable” in a general election than Obama, since she is more centrist. I honestly don’t know where this trope came from. The far right hates Hillary Clinton, and the center dislikes her. McCain, despite more recent missteps, has developed a much broader appeal, a patina of genuineness that Clinton still only aspires to. That impression of genuine openness is very important to a broader American electorate–few are going to take the time to see through the maneuvering and posturing of a Clinton campaign to recognize a deeper passion for good governance. They want someone who doesn’t take time to get used to, someone who is inspiring when you first meet him, and who has the passion to lead. While I think Clinton is well-meaning, she seems willing to do whatever necessary to win people to her position, and I don’t think that is good for the nation.
The last time we elected a Democratic candidate on the basis of “electability,” we chose Kerry. I think Democratic voters are poor judges of how those with different ideological leanings will vote. So, don’t vote strategically, vote for the candidate who best represents a change in Washington, a move away from dynasty, a move toward a new America. Tomorrow is your chance to stop complaining and make a change. It is your chance to put your vote where your mouth has been. If you are sick of the business as usual in Washington, as practiced by both Republicans and Democrats, be confident that others are equally sick of it, and vote for the best candidate. Vote for Obama.