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Supporting Clinton

Does That Really Make Me Racist?

 Supporting Clinton

I suppose it had to happen, all of us travel this mountain in life and at some point cross the peak to carry our journey to the other side–but I was hoping it wouldn’t come so soon.

Of course I’m talking about the stations in life we progress through. From the point of youth where we know it all, to the point of maturity when we become too old to know it all.

This was driven home to me recently while among a group of fellow Democrats discussing the primaries, most of them under 25 years old, when I was accused of being prejudiced for not supporting Senator Obama’s campaign.

The accusation was unfounded and is completely ludicrous, but I wasn’t upset at being challenged on my personal beliefs–only at why they were being called into question… for thinking Senator Clinton is the better candidate at this time.

What was truly amusing was that because I hadn’t referred to Obama’s race at any point in the conversation, that fact was pointed at to be proof of my racial bias against him. Yes, I had trouble with this logic as well.

I hadn’t referred to Senator Clinton’s gender at any point either, but when I asked if that made me a chauvinist I received no clear answer.

But apparently, to not comment with relish on the fact that Senator Obama is doing so well as a Black man running for president is to silently say that you don’t support an African-American reaching higher office? At-least, that’s how I gathered the young accusers were summing it up for me. To be honest, I’m still having a lot of trouble with this line of logic, but I appreciate their vigorous attempts to explain it to this dumb old guy.

Still, I think these conversations are good to have–if rarely productive–simply to keep important topics and issues from being lost in the flood of confusion and chaos that is life and politics. Racial divides and prejudices do still exist in America, however rarely get the center stage for discussion that’s warranted.

I missed the civil rights movement, but as a young boy in the early 1970′s I can recall heated ‘discussions’ between adults over the Voting Rights Act and Black Panthers (which I mistook at the time to be wild cats that were seemingly preying on young white girls in the inner-cities).

My grade school had 2 sets of bathrooms on each floor, no longer labeled beyond Boys or Girls, but at a previous time they were intended for specific groups of boys and girls to use.

I visited the home of one of my closest childhood friends–and neighbor–less than a dozen times during all of our grade school years. He was African-American and his parents didn’t like him bringing white boys into the house.

So, my limited experiences and childhood memories give me enough of an understanding and insight on racial divides to say that while it boggles my mind that these divides still exist in 2008, it’s important that we keep talking about them rather than ignore them and hope they’ll just go away. By keeping such discussions ongoing we may make baby steps towards real progress along the way.

To retreat from my rant on racism in America and get back to the topic at hand, I’m going to outline why I came to support Senator Clinton in this election.

Experience : When you get past the rhetoric and punditry about each Democratic candidate and take a serious look at their time in Washington obviously Clinton has the edge. She’s served twice as long in the Senate as Obama and as First Lady had occasion to deal with politicians (and politics) while working on projects.

This shows at times, and it’s really been a double-edged sword. Unfortunately for her, many people believe that being such a polished politician is a bad thing. They’re frustrated with the system and don’t want someone who knows it so intimately.

I understand that position, and don’t fault anyone for holding it even if I disagree. In my opinion it’s just too Utopian and unpractical. I think the system is fouled up too, but I think the best way to tackle a broken system is to bring in the people who understand it the best.

If I had a brain tumor but thought all Brain Surgeons were jerks I wouldn’t take myself to a Foot Doctor, I’d find the most qualified Brain Surgeon I could and have faith that despite his or her personality they would do a good job fixing me. The Foot Doctor may have an appealing bedside manner, know his way around an operating room and be able to name all the tools and instruments, but he’s still not going to be the best person for fixing things inside my head.

So, when I think of experience with regards to a presidential candidate I’m really thinking about politics. Who has the chops to ultimately be able to get things done? Our government works in crazy and sometimes wicked ways. It’s not pretty nor perfect, so I ask myself which candidate has the skills to tread those murky waters and move us forward the fastest?

And on that one my order by opinion of all possible candidates (sorry Mike) is Senator Clinton, then McCain and then Obama at this time.

Issues & Approach : Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama share pretty common ground on the majority of issues I care most about, so it’s in their approaches to dealing with those issues that I make distinctions.

To do this I looked through various bills that have been proposed by each in the Senate. You can do this at the web site of the Library of Congress (just look for the Thomas [Jefferson] section under Legislative Catalogs). By looking at the specifics of the bills each proposed one can get a notion for what issues are truly most important to the politician, and how they approach problem solving.

It’s better than listening to stump speeches because this stuff is the real deal on what they have been spending their time fighting for (or against), as well as how they favor going about getting things done.

There’s far too many to list them all here, so I’ll give the general sense I took away from my research and suggest you visit the Library of Congress web site and do your own.

Overall, each Senator has proposed various bills that are inline with the issues they raise in speeches. I didn’t expect any less from either, but being able to confirm that they both tackle the problems they speak on is still a good thing to me.

As I said, it was in looking at how they tackle those issues that I came away with real distinctions between them. In my opinion Senator Obama either favors, or at-least doesn’t disfavor growing government larger (which must be supported by higher government revenues) than Senator Clinton does.

Senator Obama seems more prone to establish Commissions (more government bureaucracy in my mind) and is less cautious towards the concerns or needs of business as exampled by a willingness to penalize companies for current behaviors rather than rewarding them by incentives to make better choices.

Personally, I oppose more federal waste of tax dollars on new Commissions, Panels and Studies just to have more bloated Reports written in legalese that only support what average people usually already know from common sense, but say it in a manner that few people can read and comprehend.

I also believe that while the individual citizen’s rights should hold favor over corporate wishes, there needs to be a balance to ensure overall economic prosperity and a stronger America. At the end of the day, without jobs and income our individual rights and wants don’t feed the family, so a delicate balance of tightrope walking is required, and I didn’t come away with the notion that Senator Obama is quite there yet.

On the other hand, Senator Clinton struck me as more prone to solutions that don’t enlarge government nor penalize business when possible. In fact, what I comprehended was a leaning towards solutions that reward rather than penalize through sound uses of tax credit incentives.

I’m liberal on most social issues, but I’m a fiscal conservative–like many centered Americans. So, I am a big fan of tax incentives for rewarding better choices rather than destructive penalties that stunt growth and put more money into the government’s coffers.

When our elected leaders want people to do something they basically have 3 ways of getting it to happen. First, they can simply pass a law regardless of public opinion. Second, they can enact fees or other penalties on those who don’t conform; taking more of American’s money away from Americans and causing harm to those penalized.

Or third, they can establish incentives that reduce bureaucracy, aren’t destructive to anybody and ultimately put more of American’s dollars back into American’s hands.

I’m always in favor of that third option, and in researching the candidates I feel that Senator Clinton is most apt to seek ways in which to use incentives to lead both individuals and corporate tax payers into better decision making than either Obama or McCain.

In fact, where I found Senator Clinton proposing new tax incentives or the expansions of existing incentives on numerous issues, I found that Obama proposed bills on the same issues that would eliminate many existing tax incentives. Both proposed legislation to address the same issues several times, but it’s in their approaches to addressing them that the contrast forms.

To me, smacking the hands of individuals or companies (and increasing government revenues) isn’t leadership, it’s control through discipline. That’s why I favor incentive based solutions where possible.

It’s just my belief that in a free society the government shouldn’t be forcing people to do things, it should be leading people to do the right things. And incentive based leadership ultimately places the responsibilities and rewards where they belong, with we the people.

Work Ethic : Born and raised in Pittsburgh when the Steel Mills and manufacturing sector were still running strong I believe in a strong work ethic. When President Bush spent more time on vacation than in office during his first year as President was when I first began to take notice of the work ethics of my elected officials.

To be fair and honest, it’s very hard to truthfully judge the work ethic of a politician. Much of their time is spent away from their offices, yet it is still honest working time; and when it comes to missed votes there are a lot of reasons beyond poor work ethics which can account for them. Sometimes a non-vote is in fact a vote in some rare cases. So this one is strictly an opinion based judgment call for me.

Still, in looking at the legislative proposals and voting records of Senator Obama and Clinton, I couldn’t help but notice one glaring detail that jumped out at me.

With 4 less years in the Senate, Obama has missed a lot more votes than Clinton has.*

Over the last 8 years, Clinton has missed (listed as Not Voting, Excused, Absent, or Present) a total of 113 votes.

In just 4 years Obama has missed (listed as Not Voting, Excused, Absent, or Present) a total of 143 votes. That’s 30 more missed votes in half the time.

Again, there are a lot of reasons for not voting that don’t necessarily have anything to do with a politician’s work ethics, but I can’t help looking at those numbers and thinking that at that pace after 8 years Obama would have missed voting 286 times, while after 8 years Clinton has missed voting 113 times; and while those numbers may not be direct barometers of either candidate’s work ethic, they do mean something and can’t just be discounted when weighing the candidates against one another for the Presidency.

In researching and reviewing the candidates I did include McCain’s records as well, however I intended this piece to remain as focused on the Democratic primary elections as I could keep it, so I have left Senator McCain out of the majority of my comments here.

To conclude my reasonings for supporting Senator Clinton, when looking at the records and tendencies of the candidates, while also weighing their positions on the issues that matter most to me, it’s clear for me that Senator Clinton is the better choice at this time.

If any of my comments here seem to be against Obama or McCain, I regret that. I am not against any of the three possible choices (sorry again Mike) we’re going to have in this general election. Even Senator McCain, though I disagree with him on policy a lot of the time, would be a giant leap forward for the country at a time when I believe its badly needed.

And none of my decision making process included race, gender, age nor silly photographs published on some pundit’s web site. It’s strictly based on the candidate’s policies, record and approaches–with the belief that those factors will lead to the best person for this time resulting.

As for my accusers who weren’t convinced of my lack of prejudices, it’s been said that youth is wasted on the young and at last I fully grasp the truth in that. I remember having the passion (and frustrations with older folks who hold different perspectives) that’s driving you. But, like most people eventually do, I’ve learned that sinister motives and grand conspiracies aren’t really there most of the time, and very little is truly as simple as black or white.

* Besides the Library of Congress web site, some voting record information was found at Project Vote Smart

Administrator.thumbnail Supporting Clinton


A conservative liberal with a perspicuous perspective on American politics.

Scott's writings have been published on dozens of news and opinion outlets both online and off.

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