A whole lot of disturbing things happened during last night's debate, but the most disturbing of all may be how horrendously insulting it is to keep dragging Secretary Hillary Clinton through events like these as though Donald Trump is in any way comparable to her. I could rant about all of the horrible things Donald Trump did and said during last night's debate — and just in general — but that, too, is an insult, because this nation has become so caught up in talking about Donald Trump that it's not even discussing why Secretary Clinton would make a great president.
This woman is the Hermione of the 2016 race — and not just the current head to head, but throughout the primaries and across all political parties. Secretary Clinton takes her research extremely seriously, and she knows the issues up, down, and sideways. Attempts at spinning this as a bad thing, like it's possible to be "too prepared" or "too poised" at events, is a telling testimony to the state of America. Instead of being thrilled by a candidate who can thoughtfully engage without spewing endless talking points, the country is claiming that she's too much of a bluestocking.
She is running for President of the United States. If there is one thing I want from a president, it is an immense body of knowledge and the ability to thoughtfully analyze information, paired with an understanding of how to research. Secretary Clinton knows what she's talking about, and if she doesn't, she finds out who does and she learns from them. On what planet is this a bad thing?
Speaking of learning, watching Secretary Clinton's campaign evolve has been absolutely fascinating. She's come in for her fair share of criticism, but rather than reflexively rejecting it, she's thought about it. She's brought on more advisors. She's taken time to learn about issues and she's interacted with the populations who are criticizing her. She's fine-tuning her policy proposals and seeing how criticism can make her better, which is a really difficult thing to do.
It's hard to be one of the most hated women in America, to be surrounded by people with a visceral antipathy to you and everything you stand for, and to sort through the criticism you get. To separate the garbage from actual legitimate comments that should be addressed. To reach out to people who may vigorously oppose everything you stand for and say, "Hey, I'd like to learn from you." We're not just talking Senator Bernie Sanders here, but people all over, including pretty regular, average, ordinary people.
She's adept at research and incorporating criticism into her policy, but she's also someone with a massive depth of experience. This is a woman who served as a senator and a secretary of state. She was First Lady of Arkansas and the United States, and if you think those jobs are sinecures, think again: First ladies (and gentlemen) set and pursue their own policy agendas and make the kinds of connections that are serving Secretary Clinton right now. Before that, she worked as an attorney and is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of federal law.
She's also an advocate for social justice. While she's focused on children and families throughout her life, racking up a formidable list of victories on health care and a host of other policies, she also famously noted that "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights." Throughout her career, she's enlarged her understanding of social issues, whether it be extending same-gender partner benefits at the State Department, working with the disability community, or explicitly integrating discussions of systemic racism into her policy proposals.
Going over her career accomplishments would take days, which in and of itself is evidence of her immense level of qualification. And these are not, as some suggest, opportunities that were handed to her. She worked for that Senate seat. President Barack Obama appointed her to the State Department because she was qualified to do so; the State Department is not a consolation prize you hand out to a defeated rival, not with so much on the line.
Her policy proposals are clear, thoughtful, and substantive. They're clearly backed by considerable research and care behind the scenes, and they're constantly evolving to reflect new information and new considerations. Her climate policy, for example, addresses myriad aspects of concern about climate change, while also acknowledging the importance of retaining jobs in the energy sector — in this case, by converting them to green collar jobs that will offer opportunity and also not destroy the planet.
This is a woman who has basically been practicing to be president for her entire life. She's also a woman, like many, who has been forced to subvert her own career to the desires of her husband, which is extremely difficult, and something that can feel very dehumanizing. She took what could have been waiting in the backseat for her turn and used it to develop and articulate policy, learn what worked and what didn't.
Much of this year's election has been reduced to "who is the least awful?" But that's an insult, not just to Secretary Clinton but to all of those who are working to make her a better person, a better candidate, and, hopefully, a better president. It's insulting to put Secretary Clinton in the same league as Donald Trump, as Jill Stein, as Gary Johnson — this is like putting a donkey on stage with Beyoncé and acting like it's possible to have a serious discussion about which one is the better singer.
In four weeks, this country is going to be making a huge decision. Maybe instead of talking about how gross Donald Trump is, let's try talking about Secretary Clinton's accomplishments, experience, and, yes, room for growth and improvement. I don't want to vote for the candidate I dislike least and neither should you: I want us to start making the case for Secretary Clinton because she is a good candidate on her own, not in comparison with other candidates, though she clearly is.
For the love of this great country of ours, check your voter registration to confirm it's still valid. Register if it's not, or if you've never registered before. Request an absentee ballot if you aren't going to be in the area on election day. And vote. Vote not just for the president, but all the way down the ticket, because we need a Congress that won't play games and throw tantrums at the drop of a hat. And we need state houses that pass thoughtful, considered legislation. And we need great city councils, boards of supervisors, mayors, sheriffs, judges, and school boards. And we need to slap down terrible propositions and embrace good ones.
The next four weeks are going to be a wild ride, so let's make sure we get off at the right stop.