Why I sup­port Hil­lary Clin­ton

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS - By Dr James J Zogby

This past week, I trav­eled to Dear­born, Michi­gan where I ad­dressed a Hil­lary for Amer­ica cam­paign event. Held at the Arab Amer­i­can Na­tional Mu­seum, the gath­er­ing pro­vided me with the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain why I was en­dors­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton for Pres­i­dent. I of­fered four key rea­sons. In the first in­stance, my en­dorse­ment was about her. She is, with­out a doubt, one of the smartest, tough­est, and most ex­pe­ri­enced can­di­dates to ever run for pres­i­dent. As im­por­tant as these qual­i­ties are, I am also in awe of her self­con­trol. As I watched the last pres­i­den­tial de­bate, I mar­veled at Hil­lary Clin­ton’s abil­ity to re­main com­posed in the face of her op­po­nent’s hos­til­ity and vile provo­ca­tion. Given what we know of Don­ald Trump’s dis­gust­ing be­hav­ior and his de­mean­ing at­ti­tude to­ward women, I would have found it dif­fi­cult to even ap­pear on stage with him. And yet she did so with great poise and dig­nity.

While these per­sonal traits served her well in a de­bate set­tling - they are also es­sen­tial for a pres­i­dent who will be tested by ma­jor chal­lenges ev­ery minute of ev­ery day. When the 90 minute de­bate ended, I came away more con­vinced than ever that Hil­lary Clin­ton has, to bor­row Richard Ben Cramer’s phrase, the “right stuff” to lead our na­tion.

An­other rea­son be­hind my want­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton to win has to do with us - my com­mu­nity and our part­ners in the coali­tions of con­cern with whom we work most closely. As some might know, I was deeply in­volved with the Bernie San­ders’ cam­paign. I agreed with Bernie on most is­sues and as a Demo­cratic Party su­per-del­e­gate I voted for him at the con­ven­tion. I also proudly served as one of his rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the party’s plat­form draft­ing com­mit­tee where we fought with the Clin­ton team to shape the party’s po­lit­i­cal agenda. Bernie has cor­rectly noted that the re­sul­tant doc­u­ment was the “most pro­gres­sive in the party’s his­tory”. We forged con­sen­sus on a range of is­sues like: abol­ish­ing the death penalty; rais­ing the min­i­mum wage; ex­pand­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity; cre­at­ing a pub­lic op­tion health in­sur­ance; elim­i­nat­ing Su­per PACs; clos­ing the loop­holes in ra­cial pro­fil­ing and ex­pand­ing the def­i­ni­tion of “ra­cial” to in­clude re­li­gion and na­tional ori­gin; in­creas­ing sup­port for Le­banon and Jor­dan; the need to work more closely with Arab allies; and in­creas­ing the num­ber of refugees ad­mit­ted to the US with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion based on re­li­gion or eth­nic­ity.

Im­por­tant Step

We did not get the plat­form lan­guage we fought for on Is­rael-Pales­tine, but for the first time in his­tory the party calls for pro­vid­ing “Pales­tini­ans with in­de­pen­dence, sovereignty, and dig­nity” not­ing that they “should be free to gov­ern them­selves in their own vi­able state in peace and dig­nity”. Hav­ing scars to show from three decades of party plat­form bat­tles, I can tes­tify that this was an im­por­tant step for­ward.

We won these bat­tles work­ing with allies - lib­er­als and pro­gres­sives; African Amer­i­cans Latinos, and Na­tive Amer­i­cans; la­bor and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists. We sup­ported them and they sup­ported us. That is the essence of work­ing in coali­tion. We can­not aban­don our allies be­cause we didn’t get ev­ery­thing we wanted. If we hope we can count on them to be with us, then they need to know that they can count on us to re­main with them. When Hil­lary Clin­ton wins, we will all be bet­ter po­si­tioned to con­tinue our com­bined ef­fort to in­sist that the plat­form we en­dorsed be­comes pol­icy and to con­tinue work­ing to­gether to press for even greater changes in pol­icy. Fi­nally, my en­dorse­ment of Hil­lary Clin­ton is about him. I not only op­pose Don­ald Trump, I find him to be the most fright­en­ing fig­ure to emerge on the po­lit­i­cal scene in my life­time. On Oct 14, 2016, the Wash­ing­ton Post summed up the case against Trump in one sen­tence de­scrib­ing him as “big­oted, ig­no­rant, de­ceit­ful, nar­cis­sis­tic, venge­ful, petty, misog­y­nis­tic, fis­cally reck­less, in­tel­lec­tu­ally lazy, con­temp­tu­ous of democ­racy, and en­am­ored of Amer­ica’s en­e­mies”. They con­cluded by not­ing that “as pres­i­dent, he would pose a grave dan­ger to the na­tion and the world”.

En­e­mies

What Don­ald Trump has done in this cam­paign is prey off of the fear and anger of some Amer­i­cans who feel adrift in to­day’s chang­ing econ­omy. In­stead of pro­vid­ing them with real so­lu­tions, he has given them en­e­mies to blame Mex­i­cans, Mus­lims, Blacks, etc. He has made hate-speech ac­cept­able and un­leashed a tor­rent of anger that, I fear, will be dif­fi­cult to rein in af­ter this elec­tion is over. I, there­fore, not only be­lieve that it is im­per­a­tive that he lose this elec­tion, he must lose by a mar­gin so large that it serves as both as a re­pu­di­a­tion of his hate and a man­date for Hil­lary Clin­ton to gov­ern. That said, I re­ject the no­tion that this elec­tion can be re­duced to choos­ing “the lesser of two evils”. It is, in fact, about sup­port­ing the best can­di­date - the one who, de­spite what­ever dif­fer­ences one might have with some of her po­si­tions, has demon­strated that she is tough, smart, ex­pe­ri­enced, and re­lent­less in fight­ing to make Amer­ica bet­ter. That’s why I am proud to en­dorse Hil­lary Clin­ton. NOTE: Dr James J Zogby is the Pres­i­dent of the Arab Amer­i­can In­sti­tute

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