The American President

Politics-ClintonPresidential

Early on, for a title I was thinking something like, “Why I’m voting for Clinton.” Nah. It’s deeper than that.

To mangle a paraphrase, “You didn’t need a weatherman to know that somebody besides Barack Obama will be President beginning in January. It’s taking us a while to sort it out.

As the field began to form up a couple of things were apparent. The Democratic Party didn’t have a lot of depth on the bench, regarding the presidency, that is. There was Clinton, possibly. Finally, the inevitable, she said, “Yes.” Then there was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, only he’s not a Democrat. And he’s a socialist. And he put forth a number of hare-brained ideas, schemes that had a lot of popular appeal and not much practicality. And there was a third, Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley, a truly unknown.

Second, the Republican Party had maybe too much depth. There was the obvious party choice, Jeb Bush. Then there were the Republican Party rising stars Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Bobby Jindal. And finally there was a repeat of 2012 with a jumble of comic characters, some old, some new. They included Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Jim Gilmore (?), Lindsey Graham, George Pataki. And real estate billionaire Donald Trump.

It was obvious to all who the Republican candidate would be. Obvious to all, except me. The Republican candidate is now Donald Trump, and the Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton. And now reason number 34 why I’m voting for Clinton:

Tragically, women are most often the ones whose human rights are violated. Even now, in the late 20th century, the rape of women continues to be used as an instrument of armed conflict. Women and children make up a large majority of the world’s refugees. And when women are excluded from the political process, they become even more vulnerable to abuse. I believe that now, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break the silence. It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.

These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words. But the voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loudly and clearly:

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution for human greed — and the kinds of reasons that are used to justify this practice should no longer be tolerated.

It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire, and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.

It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives.

It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation.

It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.

The foregoing is an excerpt from Hillary Clinton’s “Remarks to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session delivered 5 September 1995, Beijing, China.”

Maybe I missed something, but I have watched and listened to the Republican candidates, including most recently Donald Trump, and I have yet to hear from any of them a more clear and forceful elucidation of proper American values. From the opposition I hear:

Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence:

In 2006, as head of the Republican Study Committee, a group of the 100 most-conservative House members, Pence rose in support of a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Citing a Harvard researcher, Pence said in his speech, “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” Pence also called being gay a choice and said keeping gays from marrying was not discrimination, but an enforcement of “God’s idea.”

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump, again:

“We’re all a little chubby but Rosie’s just worse than most of us. But it’s not the chubbiness — Rosie is a very unattractive person, both inside and out.”

He also took a [jab] at her love life and managed to offend the LGBT community at the same time: “Rosie’s a person who’s very lucky to have her girlfriend. And she better be careful or I’ll send one of my friends over to pick up her girlfriend, why would she stay with Rosie if she had another choice?”

Candidate Bobby Jindal:

Jindal has campaigned with groups that support dangerous so-called “conversion therapy” and appointed a leading conversion therapy advocate to state office.

Mike Huckabee:

Mike Huckabee often mixes religion with politics. But the former Arkansas governor jumped the shark on the eve of the Michigan primary, when he told a crowd of cheering (and faithful) supporters that the Constitution needs a religious fix:

“I have opponents in this race,” he said, “who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do—to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.”

In short, the party running against Clinton seems to be at odds with a number of basic American values. Inclusiveness, concern for the plight of minorities and the poor, and equality under the law don’t seem to be a big concern for today’s Republicans. Republican Party values exhibit a disturbing trend:

  • Denial of established fact: Whenever I see a candidate stumping for the teaching of creationism in public schools, that candidate more likely than not is a Republican. While scientific research has demonstrated that homosexuality is not a matter of choice, ideologically-driven Republicans insist to the contrary and propose legislation (e.g., publicly-funded conversion therapy) in defiance of the science. Republican candidates overwhelmingly deny the evidence of anthropogenic global warming and use the power of the government to attack conscientious scientists doing the research.
  • Common sense gun legislation: Seeking to garner the support of gun enthusiasts and groups such as the NRA, Republicans consistently oppose reasonable regulation of the sale and possession of firearms.
  • Reproductive rights: Aligning with an extreme religious faction, Republicans continue seeking to undo or to dilute access to abortion and even benign family planning services. Planned Parenthood is particularly targeted in this regard, and foreign aid that includes family planning services is opposed by Republicans.
  • Voting rights: Recognizing the Democratic Party’s appeal to minorities and the poor, Republicans continue to push the now-debunked notion of massive voter fraud and use it as an excuse to impose photo ID requirements, said requirements being more difficult to meet by minorities and the poor. Additionally, Republicans at the state level have sought to make it less convenient for these groups to vote.
  • Direct aid to people in need: Republicans characteristically and to a varying degree, oppose direct aid to people, such as food stamps, subsidized housing, and public health care. This has become particularly apparent with the Republican Party’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Almost to a person, the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination have announced their intention to kill the ACA once in office. Some candidates have voiced opposition to government funding of public education.

Summarizing, I have lived in this country for over 75 years, and in this time I have grown to expect a level of competence and humanity from my government. Compared to the aspirations of Hillary Clinton, the Republicans fall considerably short. They should consider a do-over.

Whether I ever get around to addressing the remaining 45 reasons I plan to vote for Hillary Clinton is something to be determined. Keep reading.

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