Although not my first choice for Democratic party nominee, Hillary Clinton is leading many national polls for a reason. Her 51 years of experience and relatively moderate public policy will be crucial assets both on the campaign trail and in office if she wins the vote.
Clinton has a long history maneuvering the world of social policy making, which she began in 1964 when she was only seventeen years old and helped campaign for presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.
Throughout her college years Clinton was incredibly politically active, working on a Senate subcommittee and on the presidential campaign of George McGovern. In 1974, Clinton joined the presidential impeachment inquiry staff, advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives during the Watergate scandal.
In 1976 Clinton contributed to Jimmy Carter’s successful presidential campaign. In ‘77 President Carter appointed her part-time chairwoman of the Legal Services Corporation, the nonprofit federal agency that funds and monitors free civilian legal aid.
During her positions as first lady in both Arkansas and in the US, Clinton filled her schedule with various social justice causes, as well as supported her husband and witnessed first hand the responsibilities of President. In 2001 Clinton was elected to US Senate, where she championed health care and women’s and children’s rights.
In 2008 Clinton first ran for president alongside Barack Obama. While she obviously lost, she was appointed Secretary of State by President Obama.
During her tenure Clinton has become well traveled. She forged early connections with foreign diplomats, which has given her a clear advantage over almost all other candidates on both sides of the political aisle.
Although a long history in American politics has recently begun to be regarded as a negative (with candidates like Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina being championed for their non-political backgrounds), having a firm grip on how to navigate the political realm is an asset when communicating with the other branches of government and managing foreign affairs. If we elected our president in the same way that hiring managers choose employees, then Clinton’s years of experience would definitely qualify her for the job.
One of the biggest concerns voters have when it comes to Clinton’s campaign is the number of times her family name has been associated with scandalous behaviour. Throughout her astonishingly long career a fair number of those can safely be called failures for which she can be personally held responsible. However, to her credit, she has yet to make the same mistake twice.
One aspect of Clinton’s history that many voters may find most difficult to reconcile is the email and private network scandal that has most recently clouded her campaign. However, she is not the only candidate on the trail whose past seems a little shady. If we can forgive Trump and Fiorina for past failures on the grounds that they have learned from their mistakes, it is only fair to extend that same courtesy to Clinton.
The issues central to Clinton’s campaign have also been targeted by many media sources because they are “flip-floppy” or “wishy-washy.” Her recent decision to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her change of position on the appropriate amount of involvement in Syria are great examples of how her policies have changed. But in all honesty this also goes back to forgetting that Clinton is an actual human being. Not only do people make mistakes and learn from them, they also have the ability to make a decision, and upon learning new facts can change their minds. The ability to adapt to new information is a good quality for a leader to have.
Clinton’s policies lie somewhere between her radical opponents on both sides of the debate. She has obviously made bold statements on the issues of women’s reproductive rights, gun violence prevention and health care that put her clearly left of center. However, in comparison to some of her fellow liberal candidates, she stands a little to the right on issues of free trade, involvement in foreign affairs and marijuana legalization.
This makes Clinton arguably one of the best candidates in either party, because the centralization of her policies are likely to attract swing voters during election time, and having a more centralized president could ease the tensions of our so strongly divided nation.
Many of the other democratic candidates such as Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, Lawrence Lessig and Jim Webb come nowhere close to Clinton’s popularity with voters. The real threats to her campaign are Bernie Sanders, who trails close behind her in every state but New Hampshire, where he has a decisive lead, and Joe Biden. If Biden were to enter the race, it would lower everyone else’s chances significantly.