Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Choice for President

There are many around the country that say that in this presidential election ‘the choice is clear’. They then go on to disparage the candidate that they don’t support and conclude with the notion that “therefore, I am voting for my candidate.” What an unfortunate way to make a case for the next leader of the free world. I am not going down that path in disclosing my choice for President. No, instead let me tell you who I am supporting and why.

The measure of a good leader is largely viewed through his or her accomplishments – not only those accomplishments that are visible but those less known to the public. This measure should also be coupled with their realm of experience which includes their background in the field, including education and work history. Leadership is also about having an ability to motivate and persuade people, partly through a charismatic personality but as well through use of good data and information. For me, there is one other trait that is at least equally, if not most important and that is being inspirational.

Using this lens, I made my choice in this election. There is one person who has the qualifications, not just the most but the right qualifications for this unique job. Moreover, this person has the realm of experience that is unmatched by nearly anyone known in this country. This person has proven leadership in two branches of federal government, working in a bipartisan fashion to get things done in Congress and being persuasive among the worlds’ leaders. In a more personal way, this person has inspired me and so many others who have worked in public service to work hard and not give up until the objective is met. And this person is above all human, meaning she is not perfect. She has, in the course of doing the job, made some decisions that she admits were not the right ones. To this last point I say, who hasn’t?

This person I am supporting for president is Hillary Clinton. A tireless worker for so many, she began her journey of public service when she was young, showing compassion for those less fortunate. She is extremely bright and early on grasped the importance in helping children, women, the disadvantaged and disenfranchised and made it her life’s work. When one studies her career – from her volunteer work as a college student to her professional work - there are many examples, too numerous to list here, of her compassion and her drive to right the wrongs in civil rights issues, to lift families up and out of poverty, to boost women’s rights issues, and to help provide health insurance to poor children. I think that people have tuned out of this particular slice of her, partly because of apathy – if one hasn’t been affected by any of those issues, they tend not to care about those who do and view her as merely a ‘do-gooder’.

Digressing for a moment, I think this apathy is one of our country’s most deplorable flaws of the newest millennium. We rose as a nation to become the world’s leader in part because we recognized our own human rights and civil rights deficiencies and worked to make important changes. The millennial generation doesn’t have the same appreciation for how far our nation has come here and sadly the baby boomers have now taken it for granted, in my opinion. Thus arises the view of Clinton’s work in this area as a ‘so-what’ moment in her life that I actually think importantly defines her as a leader of human and civil rights.

Hillary Clinton has shown strength and valor amid crisis’, both personal and professional, that both the male-dominated political establishment and less-educated middle America simply can’t tolerate. Why? Because the ‘strong woman’ figure is still, sadly, unacceptable to them, yes even in 2016. She has been examined and scrutinized to a level unmatched in American politics and has always come out on the other side still standing.

But perhaps above all of the compassion, drive, stoic-ness, and strength that she has demonstrated throughout her life, for me it is seeing her up close and personal that underscores my support for her. I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with her on several occasions and I can say with all candor that she is genuine, smart, charismatic, thoughtful, and funny. I once introduced her to my daughter who was at that time about 8 or 9 years old. She knelt down to Sarah’s level and, with a big smile proceeded to have a conversation about what Sarah’s interests were and most importantly, listened as Sarah spoke with her. It was not a ‘smile and move on’ moment that candidates typically do but instead a real moment of short dialogue that frankly I was not expecting. That’s the human side, the compassionate and genuine side of Hillary Clinton that I like and admire. I have been dazzled myself by conversations Hillary and I had about local topics about which I was sure she didn’t have a lot of information, only to be pleasantly surprised by her depth of knowledge of said topic. And after her last Senate campaign, she was doing a sort of thank you tour the day after her re-election and flew into the local airport where she met me and other supporters. She had worked hard doing countless speeches across the state and by then hardly had a voice. But she talked to us with that huge smile of hers, visibly weary but so happy to be there thanking her supporters. She wanted to be with us. It was clear that she took nothing for granted.

That is why I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I’ve seen her on the national stage, read about her life, met and talked with her. I believe in her message and her proposals because they were borne from her own life, her history, her experiences, her brilliance, and her heart. She is a person, a woman who takes nothing for granted, has a work ethic like no one else, and can be defined as always being prepared. She is prepared to become President. I hope America gives her that chance.