Lee Harrison: Many good reasons for trusting Hillary


WILLIAMSTOWN >> The Republican Party that existed during my youth, one that included Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Sen. Edward Brooke is long dead. Clearly, it's no longer the Party of Lincoln. In fact, it's no exaggeration to say that when it comes to the 21st century GOP, the inmates have taken over the asylum. Heck, even Richard Nixon looks like a liberal compared to these guys. So, it's not a reach to say we need a tough, experienced hand in the White House to counter both the outrages and utter foolishness of today's Republican Party.

I trust Hillary Rodham Clinton to be that person.

Weathered it all

I trust her because there is nothing that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Jeb(!) can throw at her that their predecessors haven't. For 25 years, Hillary has weathered a tsunami of insults and false charges ranging from drug dealing to real estate fraud — even murder — and she's withstood it all. As Salon magazine said of Ken Starr's effort to criminalize the Clintons: "The independent counsel's pathetic final report reveals what a travesty the right wing's get-Clinton crusade was."

Of course, the real travesty is that this circus continues to this day, not only with the ridiculous Benghazi hearings, which rivaled Starr's circus investigation — and which revealed Hillary's intelligence, humor, and resilience — but also with charges that she sent classified emails over a non-secure system. Of course, most accounts fail to relate the fact that when she sent the materials they weren't classified but were later deemed top secret. The real story is about "the craziness and excesses of the classification system," as The New York Times' Paul Krugman says. But Hillary is made of sterner stuff and still isn't giving in to the charlatans.

And because of her toughness and experience, I trust Hillary's ability to make working people's lives better. Let's start with healthcare. While I'd prefer a single-payer/Medicare for All system, it's simply not possible in today's world. A Republican Congress is not about to do a 180 and embrace it.

Teddy Roosevelt proposed universal healthcare in 1912, and Obama finally delivered something very close — not just to Teddy's idea but also to Hillary's 2008 plan. And Hillary will make it even better because her proposals to lower prescription drug costs and out-of-pocket expenses are actually achievable. Remember, today's Social Security is far more comprehensive than FDR passed in 1935, but that improvement took years because progress comes slowly in a center-right country.

I trust Hillary to assert control over Wall St. She knows it's not just that some banks are "too big to fail." There's a whole area of "shadow banking" where large nonbank corporations exert tremendous influence over the financial system, and they need to be reined in.

I trust Hillary to reduce income inequality, not only by raising taxes on the richest 1 percent but also by putting Americans to work rebuilding our long-neglected infrastructure: roads, bridges, schools, sewer and water systems, airports, commuter rail, etc. Such a program would have helped America to recover from the Great Recession quicker and prepared us to compete in the 21 century, but Republicans thwarted it at every turn. Hillary will make it happen.

And yes, I trust Hillary to make changes in campaign finance law. Citizens United is an abomination — another shaky 5 to 4 vote that surely will be overturned because it is inconsistent with democracy — and Hillary has said she will appoint Supreme Court Justices who agree. She will also push to make all political donations public.

Perspective gained

There are other reasons I trust Hillary. She's strong on education, immigration reform, protecting Social Security and Medicare, voting rights, and more. And I see her quarter-century as a public figure as a strength, not a weakness. No, she can't campaign as an outsider, but the scars she's gained from hard experience in public life has toughened her and taught her how to distinguish between what is possible now and what will take a little longer.

And while Hillary's campaign is not poetry, it is the prose of real life, and because of it I trust her ability to make the most of a very broken political system. I hope you will, too. Vote for Hillary on March 1.

Lee Harrison is a member of the Democratic State Committee.


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