When I was a Human Resources Manager, I compared hundreds of resumes to job descriptions to find the right candidate. This methodology is even more important when casting your vote for the President of the United States. As a liberal Democrat, I will vote for the Democratic nominee in November. For the primary, we have a choice between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. A comparison:
The President’s Job Duties
1. Commander in Chief
Closely related to Chief Diplomat. Who will decide when, where, how and why to deploy troops or use weapons? The President negotiates with other countries and makes the foreign policy of the United States.
As a former Secretary of State and highly visible figure in two Presidential administrations, Hillary has far more foreign policy experience than Bernie. This was made painfully clear during a cringe-worthy episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews where Bernie bragged he could deal with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin because he ‘took on a lot of people as mayor of Burlington.”
Hillary understands it is unfortunately sometimes necessary to intervene in other governments’ foreign affairs. Bernie would rather focus on domestic issues. The problem with his approach is we cannot allow abuses of human rights to go unchecked. When there are murderous despots inflicting genocide, our nation should get involved. Hillary learned the hard way, from our non-interventions in Rwanda and Bosnia, that many deaths and much harm can come from standing by and doing nothing. “If the U.S. had gone into Rwanda sooner following the start of the 1994 genocide, at least a third or roughly 300,000 lives could have been saved.” When we become aware of wrongdoing, we have an obligation to do something about it if we can. The United States military can often do things other countries can’t. Weighing the risks of action vs. non-action is important. Standing up to oppressors is a sign of a strong moral compass. If you see your neighbor abusing a child, you step in, and you intervene to save the child.
Hawks & Doves:
For her willingness to intervene, Hillary has been labeled a “hawk” and Bernie “a dove.” It really no longer makes sense to use these political labels, because while “hawks” advocate a foreign policy based on strong military power, common sense dictates no one wants war. Theoretically “doves” try to resolve international conflicts without the threat of force. In reality, diplomatic options are always explored before the threat of force is used. Personally I’d rather be protected by a hawk than a dove, and the Democratic Party needs a hawk to stand up to (and win) against the Republicans.
2. Head of Government/Chief Legislator
Who will be the main author of public policy? Who will initiate legislation and influence Congress in its lawmaking?
The Republicans currently control Congress. In fact, Democrats have the lowest number of House members since 1947. This is unlikely to change in the near future. President Obama, a seasoned negotiator, has encountered significant pushback passing legislation.
A Team Player vs. An Individual:
Bernie admitted to Chris Matthews on Hardball that he was “not an inside the Beltway guy,” yet cultivating those relationships is exactly what’s required to navigate legislative deals with a Republican-controlled Congress. Paul Krugman wrote that the Sanders movement has a “contempt for compromise.” Hillary Clinton has an impressive command of policy, the details, trade-offs and how it gets done. Unlike Hillary, Bernie has not raised any money for down-ticket Democrats, showing himself to be less of a team player. When questioned about this proclivity, he told a reporter to go fuck himself. This does not demonstrate a presidential temperament. Bernie has certainly tapped into a wellspring of voter dissatisfaction, but anger does not make a case for the ability and experience to govern.
“Every time Bernie is challenged on how he plans to get his agenda through Congress, he responds that the “political revolution” that sweeps him into office will somehow be the magical instrument of the monumental changes he describes. This is a vague, deeply disingenuous idea that ignores the reality of modern America. With his narrow power base and limited political alliances, how does he possibly have a chance of fighting such entrenched power?” Hillary has demonstrated that change requires incremental progress. She has the greatest chance of passing legislation. In fact, her plans to rein in Wall Street have more teeth. Bernie’s policy plans are not feasible. The New York Times called his economic plans “overly optimistic”, “wishful thinking,” “a fairy tale” and “a fool’s errand,” with estimated costs topping $30 trillion by 2026. According to The Washington Post, “no credible economic research supports Sanders’s economic assumptions and predictions.” Since Bernie’s “revolution” is implausible, he is simply “forming a mob of angry, misinformed people and then turning it on the likely Democratic nominee.”
3. Head of State
Who will represent the American people to the world and to themselves? The notion of REpresentation tells us the represented are not present. Both candidates have released racial injustice platforms that address important topics like mass incarceration, the school to prison pipeline, environmental racism, police brutality, and racial disparities in housing and education. Both candidates support same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. So how are they different?
Hillary is the most vetted, most scrutinized woman on the planet. Bernie’s history, on the other hand, is largely unknown. At her graduation from Wellesley, Hillary became the first student commencement speaker ever, giving a speech that made her right-wing military father cringe- in which she chided the guest speaker, a Republican Senator, for criticizing anti-war protests. At age 21 she had more courage and confidence to speak for the unrepresented than some people will ever have. In contrast, Bernie was at the “forefront” of nothing. He participated, but he never really put his butt on the line for his ideals. He never led the charge. Bernie didn’t even collect his first paycheck until he was elected at age 40. Hillary is a leader with a calm demeanor. Bernie has no social skills and he’s quick to boil over. A former New York Times editor who has covered multiple Clinton “scandals” and Republican smear campaigns over the last twenty years says Hillary is fundamentally honest and trustworthy. Politifact shows Hillary has the best truth-telling record of any of the 2016 presidential candidates. She’s been criticized for “flip-flopping”, but changing positions over time is not dishonest. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” Gallup polls have listed her as the most admired woman in America a record 20 times.
Representation matters. Women make up half the population in this country but hold less than 20% of congressional seats and comprise less than 25% of state legislators. The US ranks 72nd in women’s political participation, worse than most industrialized countries. Having a black President created growth in our national racial discourse. A woman President would similarly change conversations about gender. It’s important for girls to see an example of a woman holding the highest political position in the land. I give Bernie credit for his feminism, but he is not a woman. There is a glass ceiling and Hillary is breaking it. Gender representation has been shown to increase legislatures’ responsiveness to women’s policy concerns. The science of power suggests her election would increase women’s political influence.
“Only in a sexist society would women be told that caring about representation at the highest levels of government is wrong. Only in a sexist society would women believe it.”-Jessica Valenti
Hillary has defended women’s rights for decades. Her landmark speech “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing still resonates 20 years later. While both Bernie and Hillary support women’s rights, Hillary pushes harder. Planned Parenthood endorsed her because “we need someone who will do more than just defend reproductive rights – we need a steadfast champion who will fight to expand them, and do so not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard.” The National Organization for Women also endorsed Hillary because she has a stronger record as a women’s rights advocate.
“On the question of experience, the ability to enact progressive change, and the issue of who can win the general election and the presidency, the clear and urgent choice is Hillary Clinton.” -Rolling Stone