The big debate of the day in the Democratic race for the White House seems to be over ‘experience’ vs. ‘change.’ After almost eight years of Bush Administration misadventures, there’s no question that voters are looking for new leadership. In the ‘experience’ camp are the Hillary Clinton supporters, who cite her many years of public advocacy, her effective work in the Senate and her grasp of both international and domestic issues. And in the ‘change’ camp are those who back Barack Obama, citing him as a new, fresh voice on the political scene who can bring much needed new vision to Washington.
But are experience and change exclusive of one another? I believe the answer is ‘no,’ and there is a candidate who can bring both to the Oval Office.
The word ‘dynasty’ has also been thrown about in the debate over whether twelve years of Bush administrations, followed by twelve or more of Clinton leadership, would be a good thing. But democracy prevents dynasties, and the voters are entrusted with the wisdom of deciding who is best to lead our country. (And I don’t recall, from my history classes, anyone critiquing the Adams family as a dynasty.) The preeminent criteria for the presidency should be: ‘who is best qualified to lead the country?’ Not ‘what is their last name?’
There is no question that Senator Clinton would bring a wealth of experience to the White House. She has been there before, as the most pro-active First Lady in history. And, she has served New York exceedingly well in the Senate, where she serves on the Armed Services Committee and has earned the respect of both Democratic and Republican colleagues. Clinton has not shied away from talking about universal healthcare, LGBT rights, important economic issues or the war in Iraq.
Clinton put together, with Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia a smart bill to rescind the authorization for war, and has pledged that, if President Bush doesn’t end the war before 2009, she will when she arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She has spoken out forcefully about the need to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, hate crimes legislation and the importance of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And she has spoken eloquently about the need to bring diplomacy back to our foreign policy and re-establish our credibility around the world.
Senator Clinton, however, would also bring much needed change to Washington. A Clinton presidency would mean smarter picks for the Supreme Court (she voted against both Roberts and Alito, who have been throwing out precedent like yesterday’s newspapers); a new foreign policy based on diplomacy and strategic national security decisions, not based on aggression and endless war; a champion for universal healthcare in the White House; environmental policy set by scientists, and not big oil lobbyists; and a strong advocate for women, the LGBT community and others who have been traditionally left behind by the current administration.
That’s the kind of change I want to see in Washington.
Senator Barack Obama is, admittedly, often a passionate speaker and a welcome voice within the Democratic Party. But, with our next president facing the clean-up in Iraq, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, restoring sensibility to our courts and simultaneously protecting our homeland and our civil liberties all at once, I’m not ready to entrust the job to a candidate (however smart and dedicated) without significant experience to get us through the challenges. And while I believe Senator Obama has a promising future in American politics, I do not think this is his time for the White House.
After so many years of so many Bush fiascos, we have a mountain of evidence that leads to the inevitable conclusion that experience is a very good thing. And, as we decide who to support in the upcoming election, it’s worth asking ourselves: Isn’t it time for real experience... for a change?
(My views expressed here are my own, and not affiliated with any organization or cause with which I am involved.)