Better Late than Never: Good Reasons to Vote for Clinton

All righty. Last week, I wrote a post listing some bad reasons to vote for Clinton, and promised a post on the good reasons. Life intervened, so it took about a week longer to get that post done than I expected, but hey, maybe some Pennsylvania voters will check Shakesville on their way out to the polls.

As background, these posts are in response to Ampersand, who did the bad and good reasons to vote for his candidate, Obama. Bad reasons are here, and good reasons are here, here, and here.

1) Because she has experience with fending off the GOP hate machine like whoa.

People try to pooh-pooh this point all the time, but I think it's terribly important. They've been after her for fifteen fucking years, with everything up to and including accusations of murder. She's still standing, and still getting millions of votes. Meanwhile, we've lost the last two elections because the Democratic candidates were painted as (among other things) wimps, and they didn't hit back hard enough when the Republicans attacked. Hillary? Is no fucking wimp, and everyone knows it. She's not afraid to hit back, and she's not afraid to hit below the belt if that's the best strategy--which we all know it is sometimes when you're dealing with the GOP.

"She'll do anything to win!" has been one of the most pervasive right wing anti-Hillary memes since the first rumors that she might run, but I'm baffled as to how it's also become a left-wing anti-Hillary meme. Doing whatever it takes to win is a fucking feature, not a bug, y'all.

(Of course, I'm not inclined to believe she's a murderer, a pathological liar, a sociopath, or an actual she-devil, so perhaps I have a different definition of "whatever it takes" than some people do.)

2) Because you sincerely believe she's more likely to beat McCain than Obama is.

I sincerely believe that. Many people don't. There's no way to know for sure, and furthermore no way to find out, since only one will ultimately challenge him. But I sincerely believe it, based on four things:

A) See point 1 above.

B) Obama's free ride from the media is already ending, and McCain's never will. Hillary knows how to deal with a hostile media and still make her voice heard; Maude knows she's got the experience. But from what I've seen of Obama's responses when the media and/or his opponents don't give him a fair shake (or when he believes they haven't)--e.g., hemming and hawing, getting angry without a useful focus, complaining that people are being unfair instead of just sucking it up and hitting back harder--I have little faith that he's up to the challenge. YMMV, and if he gets the nomination, I hope to hell he proves me wrong. But as it is, I'm not optimistic.

C) Too many potential Obama candidacy-killers have already come out, and we don't even know what else they have on him. That, coupled with my lack of faith in his ability to effectively stand up for himself, makes me seriously fucking nervous.

(Please note that when I say "potential candidacy-killers," I am talking about things that can be used to create the perception that he's unfit for the job, which is exactly what the GOP will do. I don't personally think most of these things reflect badly on him.)

D) The math. Yeah, I said it. Check out this post at TalkLeft discussing long-time Dem activist William Arnone's analysis of what needs to happen in the general. Short version: we need to hold on to the states we won in 2004, pick up other states where McCain's vulnerable, and win back Catholics, older people, women, and Hispanic/Latin@ voters who swung Republican in 2004. Arnone and Jeralyn think Clinton's better suited to do all those things, and I agree.

3) Because you want a health care plan that covers every American.

Amp thinks this is no big, "because neither Obama or Clinton expect to have their exact proposals put into law." That's a fair point, but if we're acknowledging that they'll need to compromise down the line, wouldn't we rather start from a position of having more to give up?

4) Because you don't buy that the candidates will be significantly different on foreign policy.

This is Amp's main reason for voting Obama. He takes a look at an article by Stephen Zunes from Foreign Policy in Focus, which argues that based on their choices of foreign policy advisors, Clinton's "administration, like Bush’s, would be more likely to embrace exaggerated and alarmist reports regarding potential national security threats, to ignore international law and the advice of allies, and to launch offensive wars," while Obama's "would be more likely to examine the actual evidence of potential threats before reacting, to work more closely with America’s allies to maintain peace and security, to respect the country’s international legal obligations, and to use military force only as a last resort."

Yeah, I'm not buying it, in part because of another Zunes article, linked from that one, in which he examines Obama's "mixed messages" and "shifting positions" on Iraq, Iran, and Israel. Zunes is clearly anti-Clinton and pro-Obama, but even he acknowledges that it's hard to know what Obama will actually do in office based on what he says, and the hope that his foreign policy will actually be more progressive than he's currently letting on is just that.

I also think it's slanderous horseshit to compare Clinton to Bush in any respect, but especially to claim she would "embrace exaggerated and alarmist reports" the way he has. Here's Clinton herself, from her long essay in Foreign Affairs laying out her foreign policy vision:
Avoid false choices driven by ideology. The Bush administration has presented the American people with a series of false choices: force versus diplomacy, unilateralism versus multilateralism, hard power versus soft. Seeing these choices as mutually exclusive reflects an ideologically blinkered vision of the world that denies the United States the tools and the flexibility it needs to lead and succeed. There is a time for force and a time for diplomacy; when properly deployed, the two can reinforce each other. U.S. foreign policy must be guided by a preference for multilateralism, with unilateralism as an option when absolutely necessary to protect our security or avert an avoidable tragedy.

Also:
I will rebuild our power and ensure that the United States is committed to building a world we want, rather than simply defending against a world we fear.

That's a bit of a different spin, isn't it?

We can make all the guesses we want based on their potential advisors, their past votes, and our gut feelings, but at the end of the day, Obama and Clinton are saying very similar things about foreign policy. The argument that Obama will be better is based on little more than the hope that he'll be more progressive than he sounds. I'm not counting on that.

5) Because she's solidly pro-choice.

Even when questioned about abortion in the context of her religious faith, she didn't waver. Let's have a look at her answer to the question of whether life begins at conception (from the Compassion Forum):
I believe that the potential for life begins at conception. I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out.

But for me, it is also not only about a potential life; it is about the other lives involved. And, therefore, I have concluded, after great, you know, concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, that our task should be in this pluralistic, diverse life of ours in this nation that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society.

And Obama's:
This is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on. I think it's very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don't presume to know the answer to that question. What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates.

And that came after he talked a whole bunch about how important it is to find common ground with anti-abortion zealots. So the choice is pretty fucking clear for me on that front.

6) Because even though neither candidate will likely usher in noteworthy improvements to the lives of gay Americans, you simply can't forgive Obama for McClurkin, Meeks, and being impressed with homos who don't proselytize.

I can't.

7) Because she's a woman.

Yeah, I said that, too. And I think "because he's a person of color" is a perfectly fine reason to vote for Obama, for the record. As I said in my bad reasons post, I don't believe any woman would be better than any man--or any person of color would be better than any white person, for that matter. Condoleezza Rice is the simple answer to both of those assertions. But if this election has taught us anything, it's that we are nowhere fucking near a post-feminist or post-racial society. The symbolic value of seeing someone other than a white man in the most powerful position in the country--and, arguably the world--would be tremendous.

Look at it this way. I'm 33. As far back as I can remember, I heard from my parents, my teachers, and even certain media outlets that girls can grow up to be anything they want to be, including president. That women deserve powerful, high-paying careers just as much as men. That there are no intrinsic differences between men and women in terms of intelligence or professional competence.

Problem is, as they say in creative writing classes, it's much more powerful to show than to tell. People have told me that shit all my life, but I sure haven't seen it. Women still make less than men, there are way fewer women CEOs, and way fewer women politicians. Women are still demonized as bad mothers if they prioritize their careers as highly as fathers do, and as bad people if they prioritize their careers over having children in the first place. A woman runs for president, and she's rewarded with assholes screaming "Iron my shirt!"*, internet communities dedicated to telling her to get back in the kitchen, and pundits openly fearing for their testicles if she's elected. This? Does not match up with what little girls are told about women's potential in our wonderfully enlightened, "post-feminist" society. Which makes one suspect, strangely enough, that all that Free to Be You and Me stuff was a total crock.

So hell yes, when there's a strong female candidate in the race, wanting to see a female president is a good reason to vote for her.

*Seriously, if someone comes in here and says, "That was a radio stunt!" I'm gonna scream. A) We know, and B) that actually makes it worse, not better, seeing as how it was arranged by media professionals who believed their whole audience would find it high-larious, not just a couple of random fucking bozos.

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