Friday, September 30, 2016

I'm with Her. Here's why.

(This post is offered in my capacity as a citizen, not in my role as pastor to a particular congregation. It reflects my personal opinions and not those of the church that I serve.)
This post began its life as a comment on Facebook responding to an invitation to view Dinesh D’Souza’s film, Hillary’s America, before casting my vote in this fall’s presidential election. That invitation came in response to this note I had posted earlier in a friend’s thread:
I no longer engage [political] arguments on Facebook, but I do ask often and (I hope) respectfully for those with whom I disagree to tell me more about why they hold the position they do or support the candidate they support. I don't try to dissuade them. I do cut them off if all they want to do is run down the candidate they oppose, or if they run off into conspiracy theory BS. I offer to share why I hold the position I do, and if they take me up on that, I try to share it clearly and passionately and without rancor. I've had some interesting threads with Trump supporters over the past few weeks.
A Trump supporter on that thread recommended the film, and I responded with an effort to stay true to my earlier statement. I’ve fleshed out my response here a bit, but this is pretty much what I posted.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot take anything Dinesh D'Souza does with any seriousness. I've read his work before. His reading of the histories of the two major American political parties on race is just silly in its one-sidedness and its complete ignorance of the past 50 years of American political history. He writes as if nothing has changed in the ways the two major parties address race since Lincoln was in the White House, or, at best, since George Wallace was a Dixiecrat standing in the schoolhouse door. As to what he's written about the Clintons: he's rehashing scandal conspiracies that are either long-since debunked or molehills out of which their political opponents have spent decades constructing mountains. I just don't buy it. 
Is Hillary Clinton secretive? Yes, perhaps to a fault, though millions of dollars for thousands of hours of investigations have turned up nothing more than innuendo and non-criminal carelessness. I respect being doubtful about her in that regard. I wish she was more transparent, but given the partisan scrutiny she has endured for the past 30 or more years I understand her reluctance to show her cards. 
Does Bill Clinton play fast and loose with the rules? No doubt. And if the combination rises to the level beyond which one is unwilling to go, I can understand it. Of course, Bill is not on the ballot in November. If we’re going to hold Mrs. Clinton to that kind of standard … well, let’s just say at least of few of the presidents’ wives were at least a little bit crazy including that of the sainted Great Emancipator himself.
Even so, I trust the system of checks and balances to function no less well with regard to the Clintons than it has for the past half century -- that is to say, not great, but sufficient to ensure that the Constitutional framework of the government is not undermined beyond redemption. If the system didn’t collapse under the weight of Watergate nor any of the subsequent “gates” I’m confident that it will hold up to Hillary. 
For me, with respect to the so-called "honesty" question, I trust the system to function well enough. Given that, it becomes a question of which candidate's stated positions align more closely with my own vision of the commonwealth. 
At that point, it is easy for me. Hillary Clinton has worked for the interests of women and children for her entire life. The Children's Health Insurance Program she helped shepherd during her husband's presidency has been one of the most important and successful anti-poverty/child welfare programs since the establishment of Medicaid in the mid-60s.
Her uncompromising support of women's right to control their own bodies is important to me. Her support for the rights of GLBTQ people matters deeply to me. Her commitments to work for racial justice are crucial to me.
On perhaps the most important issue facing the country, and the world, over the coming years, Secretary Clinton is committed to continue the work begun by President Obama to address climate change. I’d prefer to visit the beach rather than have the beach visit me here in Northern Virginia, and thus I support a candidate who believes the international scientific consensus on the climate crisis.
Her pledge to address the higher-education debt crisis is in keeping with her life-long commitment to support children and young people, and though it will not matter to me personally, it matters to scores of friends of our children and to millions of kids I’ll never know.
That it matters to people I’ll never know matters a great deal. That is to say, beneath all of the particulars, I believe that Hillary Clinton shares my conviction about the importance of the commonwealth. It really isn’t all about me, and we truly are better – each of us – when we work together. Secretary Clinton shares my belief about the essential importance of community, and the positive role that the public sector can play in strengthening communities. 
These convictions grow, first and foremost, out of the deepest values of my faith. For me, because Jesus drew to himself a community, following the way of Jesus is always a project in community formation. Moreover, Jesus consistently led his community with compassion and concern for the outcast, the poor, the sick, the least of these. No national political party shares those concerns consistently, and all of them give way more attention to the concerns of the middle class than they do to the conditions of the poor. Within that context, however, the platform of Secretary Clinton’s party and the commitments that she has made standing on that platform offer, in my judgment, a political path that is more communitarian than not.
I disagree with her on a number of specific issues, but that's going to be true no matter who's running. Hell, it'd probably be true if I had to vote for myself! But I also know that we're not electing a savior; we're electing the presiding officer of the executive branch of a huge government and the commander in chief of a massive military. 
I believe Secretary Clinton is the best-qualified candidate for those two roles. I say that inclusive of the third-party candidates, as well. I am about as far from a Libertarian as one can get, so it’s easy to dismiss Gary Johnson. I simply do not share a fundamental worldview with him.
Jill Stein, on the other hand, is quite close to me on most issues. But even though I agree with her on many issues, I do not think that she would make a better president than Hillary Clinton. Being president is more than having a list of issues and positions.
Being president is presiding, and thus, being able to lead a team of cabinet officers who direct the multiple agencies of a sprawling government. Being president is also leading the executive branch in negotiating and compromising with the Congress. Being president is, finally, being the face of the government of the United States on the global stage.
Being president is being the one who is in the room where it happens. I believe that Hillary Clinton is the best-qualified candidate to be that one. I’m with her.