Monday, February 25, 2008

An Opportunity We Cannot So Easily Refuse

The campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States is more than just a nail-biter. It’s become a torture-chamber, especially for women and people of color. Will it also be a lost opportunity?

If you’re a Democrat – or an Independent like me – it’s not enough to say, “We have two great choices, as long as we elect a Democrat. I really wanted Hillary, but Obama isn’t bad. Young people are turning out in droves.” Well, being President of the United States just isn’t that simple!

Just ask Texas State Senator and Obama surrogate Kirk Watson. Last Tuesday,MSNBC’s “Hardball” host, Chris Matthews, asked Kirk to name Obama’s legislative achievements. Kirk kept going back to Obama’s ability to inspire. When Matthews pushed him about being on national television promoting someone for president, Kirk could only say, “Well, I am not going to be able to name you specific items of achievement.”

That’s a very big problem – and while our celebrity-driven younger folks are celebrating the Obama Phenomenon, we are losing sight of what we are doing here. We are hiring someone to be president of the United States!

My original pick for president was Hillary Clinton, and I’m sticking with her even if I haven’t been dancing in the streets recently. Here are the two main reasons why:

She is the best person for the job --
She has the smarts, skills, contacts, and yes, the experience to confront the enormous problems that we face. And also to achieve what is important to me: Get respect back for the U.S. around-the-world, end the war in Iraq, solve the economic quagmire, lead the charge for Universal health care, and take issues important to women and children off the back burner.

We can ill afford to invest in the steep learning curve required by someone like Barack Obama, no matter how smart or talented he is…or what he thoughtabout Iraq in 2002 when he did not have the same responsibility as 535 members of Congress did. While Hillary Clinton was not herself president in 1992-2000, she already knows what is required on a day-to-day basis in that huge job -- in addition to her many legislative/public accomplishments. And she has the personal strength to prevail on our behalf.

A women president would be a huge plus on several levels --
Despite the fact that her advisors have advocated the “Iron Lady” approach up until now, Hillary Clinton is a woman -- with the same important consensus-building and other traits that women who are in office have consistently exhibited and been lauded for. The political environment hasbeen changing for the better ever since more women have become Congresspersons and Governors – even though women are still grosslyunder-represented in Congress with a mere 16.3 of the seats (as the U.S. is 65th in the world for electing women). It will come as no surprise that in2001 commentators suggested that 9/11 might have never happened if morewomen were leading countries around the globe.

With a President Hillary Clinton, women’s and children’s issues will not just come to the fore, but be a beacon for social change. Senator Clinton has championed women’s rights as human rights around the world over many years. Women still do not have equal rights under the Constitution in this country, but make up nearly 52 percent of the U.S. population. We come from EVERY ethnic group and demographic. Women across the land will be empowered for the common good, if Hillary Clinton becomes president. This is no small thing, and should matter deeply to both women and men who care about anyform of equality.

If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and is then elected president, we really will get two-for-the-price-of-one – and I don’t mean Bill! We will get an established leader who is a woman to lead the freeworld, a golden opportunity that we may not be getting again any time soon. Is this a bargain we can so easily refuse at this dangerous time in ourcountry’s history?

Hiring Barack Obama for the job does not quite reach the same level of opportunity. Just think about it.