Sunday, March 02, 2008

The case for Hillary Clinton

Clinton is fighting an up hill battle now before the Texas and Ohio primaries. She might not make it and it seems moot to write about my support. But I have been so frustrated with how things are framed against her in the media that voicing them here may be the only therapy from this less than rational political season.

Clinton is the right person for the job. Unfortunately she's running a poor campaign. Yet being America, lots of the times it is really coming down to putting up the show. It's gotta be entertaining or exciting. The real ends -- the politics and nitty-gritty policies -- are boring. In fact most people I know usually avoid talking about politics. It is such an uncool topic. Now thinking about it, it does take someone with "rock star" qualities to get people excited. The only question is: is the excitement about the rock star or the politics, which is what really counts in the long term?

So what's wrong for voting for Hillary Clinton? Here's the popular rundown:

I'm tired of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. These are wealthy people who are connected, and they will monopolize politics. Down with political dynasties!

The Clintons are from typical middle class families. Before they entered politics, their families have no connections with the rich and the powerful. Hillary's father was a small business owner and her mother was a homemaker. Bill was raised by his mom, who remarried after his biological father died in an accident when Bill was little. He was from such a disadvantaged circumstances that he was termed the "first black president".

Hillary Clinton is where she is today because of her own effort and her passion in public service. She was the first First Lady who was elected to the Senate after her husband left the presidency. If family connections are all it takes to run for public office, imagine Laura Bush try the same. She would have no chance. Neither would 40+ other first ladies.

Hillary Clinton failed miserably during her healthcare reform in the 1990s

And it is something you hold against her? Whenever you try something new in life, you always run the risk of failures, and those are the real opportunities to learn and improve. The fact that she tried and failed will serve her well in her next attempt.

Obama runs on "change", just like Bill Clinton did back in 1992.

Yeah, but look at the series of obstacles Bill Clinton ran into after elected. The lack of understanding of political reality led to the landslide loss in the Senate in 1994 to Republicans. Wide-eyed idealism does not get things done. We don't want the detour in Obama in 2009.

Washington politics are broken. Obama can fix it with the "Yes, We Can" attitude.

The day when Obama is sworn in, the Congress and the Superior Court, two equal and independent branches of government, will still be there. Representatives of people who hold fundamentally different philosophical beliefs will still be there. So will conflicts of interests and ideology. Compromises will still be the way to move things forward. Change sounds good, but how is it related to the political reality specifically?

Clinton has more experience in navigating the system. That has been taken as a target for attack by Obama -- oh she's about "old" politics. But the system is the democratic system set up by the founding fathers. It is an illusion that anyone, working within the system, can revolutionize that system. And the experience to work within that system to get things done is exactly what we need!

The Clintons have so many baggages of the past.

None of the allegations on the Clintons have been confirmed by endless investigations. If innuendos are all we go by these days, what happens to the American sense of fairness and the well established presumed innocence? It is especially unfair to blame Hillary of the transgressions by Bill Clinton, as if she were liable for the Monica Lewinsky scandal!

Race / Gender / I hate how she laughs / and he's so charismatic!

Grow up! These are non-factors. It all boils down to who can get the job done.

He's leading a movement!

Movement is a dangerous thing. Jung pointed out the phenomenon of "collective unconsciousness" long time ago. In a mass movement, individual gives up their critical thinking and judgment and blindly follow the goal of the movement. Sometimes movement mobilizes people towards a just cause, and it is more effective than anything else. But oftentimes it leads to disasters. Cases in point are the Culture Revolution under Chairman Mao in China, or the Nazi movement in Germany after World War I. Many people have pondered the paradox of how the people that have produced Beethoven and Gothe could also follow the lead of a crazy man. Well, the answer lies in giving up individual thinking for the collective kind.

Of course, Obama's compaign is NOT a Nazi movement by any measure. I'm simply talking about the idea of "movement" philosophically. In fact, I feel safe that that kind of craziness would not have much of a chance in the American society, precisely because our form of government ensures that no single individual, no matter how charismatic he or she is, will have the absolute power to change anything, that even the President must work within the checks and balances of the system.

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