Alex Knepper: Hillary Clinton for President

This opinion piece represents the views of Alex Knepper alone. It does not represent the editorial perspective of The New American Perspective.

Hillary Clinton is an American icon.  She has rebounded from uncertainty time and again to confound her critics and build one of the most impressive resumes in American politics. But ‘familiarity breeds contempt,’ and many in our country have grown tired or uninspired with Secretary Clinton. Her presence in national public life began just a year after I was born. Hillary has always ‘been there’ for as long as I can remember. When I was introduced to politics in 8th grade and brainwashed myself into believing right-wing dogma, I learned quickly that Hillary Clinton was Enemy No. 1. In 2008, I supported Rudy Giuliani in part because I believed he was the candidate most likely to defeat Clinton in a general election. I voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 and do not regret it. Now, in 2016, I am an enthusiastic and unapologetic supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, and have believed strongly in her inevitable nomination this year. Many of my ex-allies in conservative politics have been mystified — not to mention many family members. How could I have come to support Hillary Clinton?

The very best reason to support Hillary Clinton is for her foreign policy perspective and expertise. Let us not play games: Clinton is a dyed-in-the-wool Cold War liberal. She is more like Joe Lieberman than Chuck Hagel. She believes strongly and sincerely in American global leadership, and views the United States as having a special role to play in world history. Her approach to Iran? “Distrust but verify” — “Iran is not a partner in the deal, it is the subject of the deal.” Her moral clarity concerning the Israeli-Arab conflict is sharp, and she is not blind to Hamas’ propaganda. She advocated early and often to President Obama for increased U.S. engagement in Syria, which may have enabled us to gain a real foothold in the conflict before Russia changed the game. There certainly would have been none of the humiliation surrounding President Obama’s astonishing decision to back down from his ‘red line’ threats to Assad, had Secretary Clinton been president instead. She has declared, in a shot at President Obama: “‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” In 1995, as First Lady, she courageously defied diplomatic custom to rebuke the Chinese government on Chinese soil for its treatment of women. And she’s not shy about her hatred for tyrants: she is steely-eyed and as awake to the realities of power as a commander-in-chief must be: witness her cheering over the death of a hated enemy, Moammar Gaddafi. Robert Gates even reports that she privately supported the 2007 ‘surge’ in Iraq — in addition to, as we know, supporting the 2009 surge in Afghanistan. Against Vice President Biden, she advocated for going forward with the raid on Osama bin Laden. One wonders whether she would have unilaterally withdrawn from Iraq in 2011. She is also deeply learned and widely traveled: if there is a sudden crisis somewhere in the world, she will not have to be given a crash-course about the stakes and the players. She will likely already know about them — or even know them first-hand.

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Bernie Sanders has served as the ideal foil to Hillary: he is so utterly indifferent to foreign policy that he appears to not have any regular advisers on the matter. She has not had to move one iota to the left, and in office, she will be able to serve both as a corrective to President Obama’s incoherent foreign policy while also serving to help reshape the Democratic Party on these issues.

On domestic issues, Hillary is a conventional liberal, would appoint Ruth Bader Ginsberg-style justices to the Supreme Court, speak out loudly on women’s and children’s issues, push for additional gun control, immigration reform, more reform of regulations in the banking and financial sectors, a minimum wage hike, and — most promisingly, since the House GOP might actually agree to something on this count — criminal justice reform. There is a strong chance she could truly govern to the left of Obama. What is crucial is that she is moderate by temperament, open to negotiation, and seldom patently unreasonable in her proposals. She is someone the House GOP under Speaker Paul Ryan should be able to work with on certain issues. And she has a mastery of policy detail few of her rivals in either party can match.

Republicans already have strong majorities in both the House and Senate, in addition to controlling a majority of governorships and state legislatures — and a relatively friendly Supreme Court. The balance of power in this country is in danger of shifting too far to the right, and the GOP is in dire need of being corralled back to more moderate discourse and ambitions. If a Democrat is not in control of the presidency, our country will be subject to one-party rule by a fractured and undisciplined party, possibly led by a man with a volatile temperament. The GOP is a radicalized party in disarray. Frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz manifestly lack the temperament to be commander-in-chief and head of state, and Marco Rubio is too unseasoned. For the sake of balance and order, the Republicans ought to be denied the presidency.

Of course, Hillary Clinton is far from an ideal candidate: she finds it difficult to inspire people anymore, and 25 years in public life have made her guarded and cautious. There are a handful of examples of Hillary walking into ethical and legal ‘grey areas.’ But there is absolutely no evidence she has committed any crime, and no evidence she has ever done anything to harm the country.

When we examine the potential alternatives, there is no comparison. The Republicans seem intent on nominating a candidate that will lead them to a Barry Goldwater-style wipe-out, and Clinton’s opponent specializes in offering false promises to people who deserve practical solutions. For her foreign policy acumen, unrivaled range and depth of experience, reasonable and cerebral temperament, and her ability to prevent our country from falling into one-party rule, the best choice for the presidency, despite her imperfections, is Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. If she lives up to her potential, she could become America’s Iron Lady.