On Tuesday June 7, 2016 Hillary Clinton made history when she garnered the 2,383 delegates needed to receive the nomination for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential ticket. “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone,” Clinton told her supporters in Brooklyn, for the “first time in our nation’s history”, a woman will be on the top of a major-party ticket. As I watched this historic moment, I had a sense of déjà vu.
Eight years ago, when Barack Obama was elected president, the nation was celebrating the election of its first black president. I feel the same way about Hillary’s nomination that I felt about President Obama’s election. Yes, it is wonderful that a woman is the Democratic Party’s choice for president just as it was wonderful that we elected the first black president in 2008. However, in both instances, Mrs. Clinton and President Obama are the wrong people for the job. Barack Obama who campaigned on uniting the country is responsible for creating more racial division than our country has seen since the 1960’s. As for Hillary Clinton, she is a terrible choice for the highest office in the land. After all, she is currently facing a potential criminal indictment for potentially having compromised national security through the use of an unsanctioned home-brew email server through which she conducted State Department business.
While Hillary Clinton’s supporters say that her experience as secretary of state, senator from NY and first lady make her a better choice for president than Republican Party nominee real estate magnate Donald Trump or her Democrat rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, experience and Washington connections do not automatically qualify an individual for the presidency. Hillary Clinton lacks most of the essential qualities for the role. First of all, her track record as secretary of state was highly flawed. It was under her watch that the Benghazi attack took place which resulted in the death of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens. As already stated, Mrs. Clinton put our nation at risk by setting up an unsecure email server at her home to conduct State Department business and also took it upon herself to delete over 30,000 of her emails including ones which may have included classified information. If Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted to follow government protocol for email correspondence, how can she be trusted to protect the United States?
More importantly, not only is Hillary not capable of leading the United States from a core competency perspective, she also has had a career which has been characterized by allegations of dishonesty and unethical behavior. From Watergate to Email Gate, Hillary’s ethics have been consistently called into question. Recently, the Clintons have come under scrutiny for not only the financial mismanagement of the Clinton Foundation, but also for allegations that donor organizations to The Clinton Foundation received preferential treatment and access from The State Department in exchange for speaking fees for her husband former President Bill Clinton. And of course, there have been many books and articles which have exposed Hillary as having played an active role in silencing the women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct over the course of his political career.
While functional skills can be acquired, you are either inherently an ethical person or you are not. It is disturbing that given how long it took our nation to nominate a woman for president on a major party ticket, the woman who received the honor is so dishonorable and unqualified for the position. It is literally as if Hillary Clinton’s primary selling point for the presidency is that she is a woman.
It has been 32 years since Walter Mondale nominated Geraldine Ferraro as his vice president nominee on the Democratic Party ticket for the 1984 presidential election. The nomination of Ms. Ferraro, an assistant prosecutor and former teacher from Queens NY, was a landmark moment in our history. It took another 24 years for a woman’s name to appear again on a major party ticket when John McCain selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice president running mate for the 2008 Republican presidential ticket. Interestingly enough, while both Mrs. Ferraro and Mrs. Palin were in part selected because they were women, their gender was not the only factor in their selection. According to an article titled “Geraldine Ferraro Is Chosen by Mondale as Running Mate, First Woman on a Major Ticket”, which appeared in the New York Times on July 12, 1984, Mondale selected Ferraro because he saw her as “gathering support from blue-collar and trade union voters in such industrial states as New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio”. An advisor to Mondale described Ms. Ferraro, ‘She’s a woman, she’s ethnic, she’s Catholic,’ he further commented, “We have broken the barrier. She will energize, not just women, but a lot of men who have fallen away from the Democrats.” Mrs. Ferraro was perceived as being the key to reconnecting to several critical voter blocks including working class Americans.
In 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain surprised the country by selecting little-known Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Once again, Mrs. Palin’s status as a woman was not the only factor in her selection. McCain, who was perceived as not “conservative enough” by members of the Republican party, selected Mrs. Palin to help his candidacy to generate greater support among the staunch conservative base of the Republican party. Mrs. Palin was specifically picked because she espoused conservative values in that she is ardently against abortion, a second amendment advocate and a believer in teaching creationism in the schools, etc. Mrs. Palin also has tremendous personal charisma and a folksy, non-elitist manner which was appealing to blue collar voters. Unfortunately, Governor Palin had several media moments where she appeared ill-prepared for questioning, including a famous interview with CBS Reporter Katie Couric where Couric asked Governor Palin what magazines and newspapers she reads regularly and Palin was unable to provide the names of any publications. Ultimately, McCain’s selection of Palin proved to be the wrong choice. According to a 2010 study from Stanford University, Palin’s presence on the 2008 Republican presidential ticket cost John McCain 1.6 percentage points. In an election in which 131 million people voted, that’s 2.1 million votes that McCain should have gotten but didn’t.(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/19/sarah-palin-cost-john-mccain-2-million-votes-in-2008/) Of course there are some that argue that the people who were turned off by Palin wouldn’t have voted for McCain any way.
We break the glass ceiling when we nominate or elect to office highly qualified candidates who happen to be women. When we nominate a highly flawed female candidate from the Washington establishment like Hillary Clinton, we are simultaneously fulfilling an identity politics objective and demonstrating that cronyism is alive and well in Washington. I am not ready to celebrate Hillary’s ascension to king of the jungle. It just feels like a hollow milestone for my gender.
photo credit: Rachel Maddow and Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia this week via photopin (license); Andrew Dallos