Four years ago, the Atlantic Sentinel was split on whether to endorse Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for president. We share the Democrats’ social liberalism and respected the president’s foreign policy, but we were drawn to the Republican’s energy and fiscal policies.
This year, it’s no contest at all. Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, is totally unfit for the office he seeks.
Not more Trump
Many publications have in their endorsements made the case against Trump. We won’t do that again. We have reported on Trump’s fascist tendencies, his admiration for strongmen, his misguided foreign policy, his racism, his poor administrative skills and how he undermines the public’s trust in institutions. There is no need to go over that again. If, after all this time, you’re still determined to vote for Trump, we don’t know what else we could write to change your mind.
Instead, we want to speak to those voters who are still undecided or are thinking about voting for a third-party candidate by making a positive case for supporting Hillary Clinton, the Democrat.
She is not without her flaws. Clinton can be secretive and she is slow to admit mistakes. Many Clinton “scandals” are blown out of proportion by zealous conservatives, but somebody who has been in politics for more than thirty years is also bound to have some skeletons in her closet.
Nevertheless, we believe Clinton’s qualities outweigh her shortcomings and that she is worth your vote.
A president who understands the world
Most importantly, Clinton understands America’s role in the world better than most, having served as Barack Obama’s secretary of state and her husband’s ambassador when he was president in the 1990s.
We worry that Clinton errs on the side of action. Her foreign policy is likely to be more interventionist than Obama’s.
But, unlike her opponents, she appreciates how crucial the transatlantic relationship is to the prosperity of America and the world, and how American relations with China will define the geopolitics of this century. To the extent that she promises continuity from the Obama years, we welcome it.
(And we hope she will change her position — again — on the Trans Pacific Partnership, which must come into force.)
Getting things done
At home, America’s biggest political challenges are anti-elitism and polarization.
Clinton is unlikely to do much about the latter. Republicans demonize her, which will likely inspire Democrats to close ranks. We don’t expect a President Clinton to make American politics any less boisterous.
But we’re hopeful that she might just do something about the first problem: Americans’ low trust in their elites and institutions.
For too long, politicians in both parties have promised their voters the world and distorted their expectations of what government can and should do. The result is disappointment and discontent.
On the right, Donald Trump’s candidacy owes much to confused Republican views about how politics work.
Clinton’s challenge is rehabilitating compromise, pragmatism and quid pro quo. All will be sorely needed, and likely in short supply from the other side, if she is to govern with a Republican majority in one or both chambers of Congress.
Governing, Clinton told Vox, isn’t exciting. It shouldn’t be. The more exciting your politics, the less prosperous and secure your country is likely to be.
I think it is getting up every day, building the relationships, finding whatever sliver of common ground you can occupy, never, ever giving up in continuing to reach out even to people who are sworn political partisan adversaries.
She’s done it before. For all the opprobrium Republicans heap on her now, they respected her as a senator from New York and a secretary of state. She got legislation done. She played an important role in putting stronger sanctions on Iran, which led to an agreement to dismantle that country’s nuclear program, and she helped Armenia and Turkey normalize relations (a deal that sadly fell apart a few years later). She restored America’s security obligations to New Zealand and traveled widely across Asia, including to formerly closed Burma, to put flesh on the bones of Obama’s strategic “pivot” to the region.
Clinton didn’t get everything right. Her “reset” in American relations with Russia turned out to be a farce and Clinton was an early advocate of the “Arab Spring,” a position that led to America withdrawing its support from Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and supporting the rebels in Libya. We’re not sure if the United States could and should have made different choices in either case, but neither has turned out well.
Clinton’s campaign is said to lack an overarching theme, but we’re relieved she doesn’t overpromise (remember hope and change?). Nor does she pretend that her effort to get elected represents a wider movement. Campaigns seldom do.
Clinton is said to lack vision, but that’s not what we see. We see European-style plans for childcare and paid family leave, sensible proposals for criminal justice reform and tax breaks for middle incomes.
Some of Clinton’s policies, like price controls for medicine, are a European-style overreach. But we are broadly comfortable with her domestic policies which, if you add them all up, would make life a little easier at every turn for those tens of millions of Americans who call themselves middle class.
And this, we have argued, is the great question of our time: How to transition away from the mid-twentieth-century social model, which was designed around big corporations and powerful trade unions, without altogether sacrificing the security and stability it gave working people?
Clinton’s instincts may not be as pro-business as we like, but she is the only candidate this year with serious plans to tackle serious issues. She has our support and deserves yours.