I’ve remained (suspiciously) silent on the Democratic campaign. I’ve thought about it, spoken to a few friends, and (for the most part) evaded direct questions regarding my candidate preference. I’m up for a lively debate amongst my friends (and colleagues), but for the first time in my life, I want to sit back and listen.
During Bill Clinton’s first election, I was a deputy registrar, strapped a sign on my backpack “If you are 18 years old or older, I can register you to vote” and registered over 3,000 people on my Ohio campus. That campaign sparked a strong passion for American politics. I”m one of those people who (quietly) writes their Representatives and Senators. I participate in local, state, and national elections.
So, why the silence? I no longer will debate the validity of America’s electoral college or the effectiveness of voting beyond local elections. It is flawed system but it is our system. I choose to exercise my constitutional right to cast a vote. I do this out of respect (revolutionary founders, suffragists, civil rights’ leaders) for the democratic process and my civil liberties. I recognize that globally, many do not have the freedoms that I enjoy (though diminished and contorted during Bush’s administration). Yet, I’ve given up arguing why others should participate. In the last 7 years, I’ve been stunned by these displays of apathy, so much so I very rarely discuss politics openly. When asked, I do encourage people to participate in the democratic processes, exercise their civil rights, and speak out when their civil general participation than request support for a specific candidate or proposition.
Two years ago, I began devouring books on American history (1750 and 1817). When I realized how focused my reading had become, I wondered why. Retrospectively, it’s simple enough: I was seeking solace (at first), then knowledge (who, what, when, why), then applicability (today’s political arena).
Our branches of government are brilliant in their form and function to provide a stable government. The Supreme Court is the most stable of the branches (life time appoints—good or bad— will produce this effect). The Congress is a dichotomy– simultaneously a fluid but overlapping body of the people’s representatives who are most able to implement change. Arguably corrupt (from its ideal) these two bodies are the law makers. The executive branch is managerial, charged with veto power, and yet, limited in its ability to establish long term ‘change’ without Congressional support. The President’s actions can have immediate (profound) impact upon domestic and foreign policies and yet, the office’s power should be balanced by Congress.
Have Americans forgotten the fundamental principles that formed these three branches of government? I wonder how the founding fathers would react to our presidential candidates yammering on about “change” and their desire to implement “change” while in office. It was the dire concern of the founding fathers that the office should not ever be considered the strongest of the branches, nor should its leader have absolute power (monarchy despotism).
Since 2000 (and in light of my ideological jaunts through early American history), my (quite personal) criteria for a strong Presidential leader has solidified. I want a President who is strong, informed, intelligent, fair-minded. One who recognizes their impact upon the country is reflected by their ability to make quality decisions while managing the country on a day to day basis. The President’s role is of manager, not implementer of “change.”
I was undecided until the (now infamous) video clip of Clinton discussing (a bit emotionally) how/why she continues slogging down the campaign trail. It appealed to me. Yes, as a woman, but more importantly, as a person who had wondered Why does she want this job? Will someone seemingly so cold and hardened listen to the recommendations of her cabinet? I have never questioned whether her experience and skill set would serve our country admirably.
So, what did it for me in that infamous clip? Her words and emotion (contrived or not) showed deep passion and belief in our country. What was the quote? “This isn’t just political, this is personal.” Yes, it is. The flat out recognition of her desire to correct, steer the country back from this nightmarish Bush administration (my words, not hers) struck me to the core. Sold. I don’t need that display to have ‘genuine.’ Contrived or not, I felt she’d called my bluff. As such, I immediately got off the fence (where I’d been leaning towards Obama out of sheer sense of default) and made up my mind.
I cast my California primary vote for Hillary Clinton. I did so surrounded in my personal life by a sea of Obama supporters. Voting is a private (and analysts wonder why exit polls are so often wrong?) action, representing a personal choice. And yet, many (without asking my candidate preference) have asked rhetorically why anyone would vote for her. I’ve followed the analysts’ discussions (Internet news sites—representing both parties’ leanings). I heard a description of Clinton on SuperTuesday that struck me as quite true. She’s like a blue chip stock. She has a high floor and a low ceiling— you know what you’re ‘getting’ when you select her as your presidential candidate.
Between the two candidates, I gravitate towards Hillary. Not because I am a woman. Not because she is a woman. Rather, of the Democratic party candidates, I believe more in her ability to lead this nation for the next four to eight years. Political platforms are just that— a metaphorical stage by which a candidate is elected. I recognize the office’s limitations and as such, I look to a leader who possesses the majority of the characteristics I mentioned above. Personally, I find Obama to be warm but lacking the understanding of the executive branch’s form and function. Hillary is married to an ex-President. Those eight years in the White House, coupled with her professional experience and intelligence inspires me to support her.
I look anxiously to this Tuesday’s primary in Texas and Ohio (come on Ohio!!!). In the end, the super delegates may decide this race. I am excited that for the first time in 7 years, the Democratic party appears dynamic and (a bit dare I say) inspiring. If Obama is nominated, I shall support his bid for the Presidency. And yet, I am still hopeful (media blitz and Obama catering aside) that Hillary Clinton will win the nomination.