America Divided

Elizabeth Davies 1 February 2008

Elizabeth Davies

First of all, let’s dismantle some stereotypes. Supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton are not women who are so narrow-minded as to be unable to see past gender. Nor do they want her to win the Democratic nomination because they hold some kind of deep abhorrence of the idea of ‘change’, whatever, exactly, this wonderfully meaningless piece of rhetoric is meant to imply. They are behind her because the decision is a clear one – today’s America is in dire need of competent leadership and tangible results, and the one person who can assuredly supply these is Senator Clinton.

The media is often vilified for its focus on ‘personality politics’; but in this case there is little substantive difference to dwell on.

Hillary would perform well in a general election. Yes, to many that seems counterintuitive, as she is often portrayed as divisive, corrosive, and apt to send innocent voters running straight into the arms of the nearest Republican – but the reality is actually the opposite. To win in November Democrats must retain the states they won in 2004, as well as winning a key swing state, and the popular options here are Florida or Ohio, both areas with traditional Clinton support.

It is also untrue that a Clinton nomination would turn off the highly-prized swing voters. Yes, Obama has been performing slightly better with Independents in primaries where they are involved, but it’s all up in the air if McCain wins the Republican nomination or Bloomberg gets in the race as an independent. Clinton not only has a stronger appeal to the Democratic base and performs well in debates but has exhibited a remarkable ability to bring sceptical voters to her cause in the past. Upstate New York is not Clinton Country by any stretch of the imagination, but her Senate campaign performed well there because she took the time to talk to voters and persuade them. From all across the 2008 campaign trail come stories of surprised members of the electorate who have talked to the candidate and discovered that she is not the calculating battleaxe they expect, but someone who actually cares about their concerns.

Which, of course, brings us to the biggest problem many have with her – the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” that will jump on her as soon as she wins the nomination. Journalists paint gloomy pictures of a campaign characterised by never-ending Swift Boat-ing, tawdry jokes about blue dresses, and virulent Ann Coulter fans pouring to the polls in hordes, frothing at the mouth.

But the point is, we know all of this already. That’s why Clinton’s negatives are sky high; people have been fed scare stories about her for years. While this undoubtedly makes people dubious about her, it does also mean that new stories are likely to have far less impact. Obama, on the other hand, is extraordinarily attackable. Republicans want to keep the Presidency, not just beat Hillary Clinton, and this is a point all-too-frequently overlooked.

While Obama is certainly no simpleton, Clinton’s incredibly sharp mind must be acknowledged after eight years of folksy Bushisms. Regardless of whom she married, she was always going to be the kind of person who ran for public office and blazed a trail for others to follow.

There is nothing wrong with stressing your record of achievement and experience in a campaign, particularly if it is as valuable as Clinton’s. There is equally nothing wrong with acting as if the Presidency is what you’ve been working towards all your life – it is, after all, a respectable goal and one that you really have to be prepared to toil for. From her election as Wellesley College’s first-ever student commencement speaker (a role which got her profiled in Life, no mean feat for a college student) to her achievements as New York’s junior Senator, Clinton has been a role model about what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it, not just to young women but to anyone.

On entering the Senate Clinton surprised everyone by becoming a ‘workhorse’, not the ‘showhorse’ many had expected, earning respect from her colleagues for her ability to get things done and willingness to co-operate with those on the other side of the divide.

The controversy over her Iraq vote is a non-starter, despite how often it is brought up. I never supported the invasion, but I do not put much faith in the statements an as-yet-unelected Senator Obama made about it. He wasn’t in office, he was beholden to nobody, and his statements would manifest no results. Pessimistic it may sound, but it’s not ludicrous to suspect that Obama would have been talking quite differently had he been holding his Senate seat at the time.

Clinton has made mistakes in her time, but that’s what happens when you have the experience she has, and she at least takes the opportunity to learn from them. Look at the contrast between the disastrous healthcare task force she chaired in the White House and her campaign’s current healthcare proposal. Obama likes to bring up his environmental speech to car manufacturers, but he doesn’t have a monopoly on political courage – Clinton did the same thing with Arkansan teachers’ unions fifteen years ago.

Any candidate, and most definitely any Democratic candidate, represents ‘change’ in this election cycle. Overblown rhetoric can bring people together, but it can also be used to mask problems – something we have seen far too much of recently. Yes, it would be nice to think that you and the leader of the free world could be pals, but that isn’t an appropriate reason to elect someone to the post.

Capability and accomplishment should be the guiding motivations in a post-Bush world if Americans wish to see real change.

I appreciate a good speech as much as the next person, and I do not doubt Obama’s sincerity in his rhetoric, nor the commendability of his goals. His attempt to involve many young people in his campaign is undisputedly admirable. But America needs a President with a proven record of accomplishment and obvious ability to cope with the ever-mounting current challenges. Give him eight years, and Obama may show himself to be that person. But look past the inspiring, empty, words and the Democratic nominee is obvious, as it was right from the beginning – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Elizabeth Davies is a 2nd year SPS student and Editor of The Berry.

First of all, let’s dismantle some stereotypes. Supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton are not women who are so narrow-minded as to be unable to see past gender. Nor do they want her to win the Democratic nomination because they hold some kind of deep abhorrence of the idea of ‘change’, whatever, exactly, this wonderfully meaningless piece of rhetoric is meant to imply. They are behind her because the decision is a clear one – today’s America is in dire need of competent leadership and tangible results, and the one person who can assuredly supply these is Senator Clinton.

The media is often vilified for its focus on ‘personality politics’; but in this case there is little substantive difference to dwell on.

Hillary would perform well in a general election. Yes, to many that seems counterintuitive, as she is often portrayed as divisive, corrosive, and apt to send innocent voters running straight into the arms of the nearest Republican – but the reality is actually the opposite. To win in November Democrats must retain the states they won in 2004, as well as winning a key swing state, and the popular options here are Florida or Ohio, both areas with traditional Clinton support.

It is also untrue that a Clinton nomination would turn off the highly-prized swing voters. Yes, Obama has been performing slightly better with Independents in primaries where they are involved, but it’s all up in the air if McCain wins the Republican nomination or Bloomberg gets in the race as an independent. Clinton not only has a stronger appeal to the Democratic base and performs well in debates but has exhibited a remarkable ability to bring sceptical voters to her cause in the past. Upstate New York is not Clinton Country by any stretch of the imagination, but her Senate campaign performed well there because she took the time to talk to voters and persuade them. From all across the 2008 campaign trail come stories of surprised members of the electorate who have talked to the candidate and discovered that she is not the calculating battleaxe they expect, but someone who actually cares about their concerns.

Which, of course, brings us to the biggest problem many have with her – the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” that will jump on her as soon as she wins the nomination. Journalists paint gloomy pictures of a campaign characterised by never-ending Swift Boat-ing, tawdry jokes about blue dresses, and virulent Ann Coulter fans pouring to the polls in hordes, frothing at the mouth.

But the point is, we know all of this already. That’s why Clinton’s negatives are sky high; people have been fed scare stories about her for years. While this undoubtedly makes people dubious about her, it does also mean that new stories are likely to have far less impact. Obama, on the other hand, is extraordinarily attackable. Republicans want to keep the Presidency, not just beat Hillary Clinton, and this is a point all-too-frequently overlooked.

While Obama is certainly no simpleton, Clinton’s incredibly sharp mind must be acknowledged after eight years of folksy Bushisms. Regardless of whom she married, she was always going to be the kind of person who ran for public office and blazed a trail for others to follow.

There is nothing wrong with stressing your record of achievement and experience in a campaign, particularly if it is as valuable as Clinton’s. There is equally nothing wrong with acting as if the Presidency is what you’ve been working towards all your life – it is, after all, a respectable goal and one that you really have to be prepared to toil for. From her election as Wellesley College’s first-ever student commencement speaker (a role which got her profiled in Life, no mean feat for a college student) to her achievements as New York’s junior Senator, Clinton has been a role model about what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it, not just to young women but to anyone.

On entering the Senate Clinton surprised everyone by becoming a ‘workhorse’, not the ‘showhorse’ many had expected, earning respect from her colleagues for her ability to get things done and willingness to co-operate with those on the other side of the divide.

The controversy over her Iraq vote is a non-starter, despite how often it is brought up. I never supported the invasion, but I do not put much faith in the statements an as-yet-unelected Senator Obama made about it. He wasn’t in office, he was beholden to nobody, and his statements would manifest no results. Pessimistic it may sound, but it’s not ludicrous to suspect that Obama would have been talking quite differently had he been holding his Senate seat at the time.

Clinton has made mistakes in her time, but that’s what happens when you have the experience she has, and she at least takes the opportunity to learn from them. Look at the contrast between the disastrous healthcare task force she chaired in the White House and her campaign’s current healthcare proposal. Obama likes to bring up his environmental speech to car manufacturers, but he doesn’t have a monopoly on political courage – Clinton did the same thing with Arkansan teachers’ unions fifteen years ago.

Any candidate, and most definitely any Democratic candidate, represents ‘change’ in this election cycle. Overblown rhetoric can bring people together, but it can also be used to mask problems – something we have seen far too much of recently. Yes, it would be nice to think that you and the leader of the free world could be pals, but that isn’t an appropriate reason to elect someone to the post.

Capability and accomplishment should be the guiding motivations in a post-Bush world if Americans wish to see real change.

I appreciate a good speech as much as the next person, and I do not doubt Obama’s sincerity in his rhetoric, nor the commendability of his goals. His attempt to involve many young people in his campaign is undisputedly admirable. But America needs a President with a proven record of accomplishment and obvious ability to cope with the ever-mounting current challenges. Give him eight years, and Obama may show himself to be that person. But look past the inspiring, empty, words and the Democratic nominee is obvious, as it was right from the beginning – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Elizabeth Davies is a 2nd year SPS student and Editor of The Berry.