Friday, March 30, 2007

It's too early to start endorsing candidates for president

By Nancy Jane Moore

The NOW PAC has endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for President.

They announced it March 28, citing Women's History Month. But while I realize they needed to do it now if they want to use Women's History Month -- the nomination may well be locked up by next March -- I think they're jumping the gun.

Don't get me wrong -- I would dearly love to see a woman in the White House. Every "first" chips away at the sexism in our society.

And I like many things about Hillary Clinton: she's smart, she's tough, she has great presence. Plus the rabid attacks on her by various right wing extremists have always been completely out of line -- and pretty much inaccurate. To label a moderate like Hillary as a liberal is laughable.

But it's not just because she's a little too conservative for my tastes that I'm not ready to jump on the endorsement bandwagon -- I'm resigned to the fact that the Democrats aren't likely to nominate anyone liberal enough for me and, given the state the country's in right now, we can't afford to fall on our collective swords and go for the most ideologically pure candidate. We have to get rid of the neocon cabal and other right wing extremists Bush has put in every level of our government, and bring this country back on an even keel.

I've got two reasons why I'm not ready to make a choice yet.

First, my one concern about Hillary Clinton is that she is too much the establishment candidate -- and therefore is conceivably too likely to "play it safe" as president. It may be ironic that a woman fills that role, but I think it is her natural approach coupled with the fact that she and her husband are a major political force within the Democratic Party.

Kim Gandy says in the NOW PAC press release:
At this time in our history, this country needs strong, experienced and principled leadership to restore faith in our government and repair its credibility at home and abroad, and to end the destructive policies that have eroded our civil liberties and increased injustice and inequality in our society.
She's right. After the incredible damage the Bush administration has done to our country, we need incredible leadership. We need someone who is going to shake everything up.

What we don't need is "business as usual" leadership -- even if that "business as usual" is a marked improvement over the mess we have now. And that's what worries me about Hillary -- I'm afraid she might be too committed to the "business as usual" path.

I've been impressed with Barack Obama because he seems to bring a slightly shifted attitude toward politics. He has a gift for taking stands without angering his opponents unduly. Interestingly, I'd say he's slightly more liberal than Hillary Clinton, but seems to draw less right-wing ire. That strikes me as an asset.

Bill Richardson -- who in some ways looks like the old-fashioned pol -- also seems to bring a fresh approach. John Edwards -- despite looking like the classic male candidate -- is taking risks. And Al Gore -- who isn't running -- seems to have the best understanding of anyone about the true problems we face.

It's a little ironic that a woman candidate seems more business as usual than the men in the race. And, to be fair to Hillary, a woman president will naturally shift some things in a way that no man could do it -- not because women are purer in heart, but because a woman in what is probably the most important political office in the world (not just in our country) will shake things up just by being there.

But given all the choices, I'm not ready to endorse anyone for president yet. Or even write anyone a check. And that brings me to the second reason I think the NOW PAC is endorsing too early. We've got an embarrassment of riches in the current crop of candidates for the Democratic nomination. I want some time to see how they all shake out.

I don't want to play gotcha politics, but I do want to watch these people under pressure, listen to what they have to say, see who's willing to take a risk on principle and who's always going to hang back and play it safe.

We've got time. The primaries and caucuses start early next year. Let's sit back and watch and see what our candidates do.

The future of our country depends on it.


Anonymous said...

Don't you think part of the reason everyone is jumping the gun is because we can't bare to look at the horrible news everyday out of Iraq and Washington? I find myself anxious to get on with rebuilding our nation. I'm not ready to choose my candidate yet either, but at least the beast will be banished to the dustbowl of Texas. And that can't happen soon enough! Very thoughtful piece--thanks.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Good point. I've been focusing on Congress myself -- hope that they really will do their job and rein in the idiot in the White House. We can't wait until January 2009 to start putting things in order.