Oct 18th 2016

Why I Support Hillary Clinton

by James J. Zogby

Dr. James J. Zogby is the President of Arab American Institute

This past week, I traveled to Dearborn, Michigan where I addressed a Hillary for America campaign event. Held at the Arab American National Museum, the gathering provided me with the opportunity to explain why I was endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. I offered four key reasons.

In the first instance, my endorsement was about her. She is, without a doubt, one of the smartest, toughest, and most experienced candidates to ever run for president. As important as these qualities are, I am also in awe of her self-control.

As I watched the last Presidential debate, I marveled at Hillary Clinton's ability to remain composed in the face of her opponent's hostility and vile provocation. Given what we know of Donald Trump's disgusting behavior and his demeaning attitude toward women, I would have found it difficult to even appear on stage with him. And yet she did so with great poise and dignity.

While these personal traits served her well in a debate settling—they are also essential for a president who will be tested by major challenges every minute of every day. When the 90 minute debate ended, I came away more convinced than ever that Hillary Clinton has, to borrow Richard Ben Cramer's phrase, the "right stuff" to lead our nation.

Another reason behind my wanting Hillary Clinton to win has to do with us—my community and our partners in the coalitions of concern with whom we work most closely. As some might know, I was deeply involved with the Bernie Sanders' campaign. I agreed with Bernie on most issues and as a Democratic Party super-delegate I voted for him at the convention. I also proudly served as one of his representatives to the party's platform drafting committee where we fought with the Clinton team to shape the party's political agenda. 

Bernie has correctly noted that the resultant document was the "most progressive in the party's history". We forged consensus on a range of issues like: abolishing the death penalty; raising the minimum wage; expanding Social Security; creating a public option health insurance; eliminating Super PACs; closing the loopholes in racial profiling and expanding the definition of "racial" to include religion and national origin; increasing support for Lebanon and Jordan; the need to work more closely with Arab allies; and increasing the number of refugees admitted to the US without discrimination based on religion or ethnicity.

We did not get the platform language we fought for on Israel-Palestine, but for the first time in history the party calls for providing "Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity" noting that they "should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state in peace and dignity". Having scars to show from three decades of party platform battles, I can testify that this was an important step forward.

We won these battles working with allies—liberals and progressives; African Americans Latinos, and Native Americans; labor and environmental activists. We supported them and they supported us. That is the essence of working in coalition. We cannot abandon our allies because we didn't get everything we wanted. If we hope we can count on them to be with us, then they need to know that they can count on us to remain with them.

When Hillary Clinton wins, we will all be better positioned to continue our combined effort to insist that the platform we endorsed becomes policy and to continue working together to press for even greater changes in policy.

Finally, my endorsement of Hillary Clinton is about him. I not only oppose Donald Trump, I find him to be the most frightening figure to emerge on the political scene in my lifetime. On October 14, 2016, the Washington Post summed up the case against Trump in one sentence describing him as "bigoted, ignorant, deceitful, narcissistic, vengeful, petty, misogynistic, fiscally reckless, intellectually lazy, contemptuous of democracy, and enamored of America's enemies". They concluded by noting that "as president, he would pose a grave danger to the nation and the world".    

What Donald Trump has done in this campaign is prey off of the fear and anger of some Americans who feel adrift in today's changing economy. Instead of providing them with real solutions, he has given them enemies to blame—Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks, etc. He has made hate-speech acceptable and unleashed a torrent of anger that, I fear, will be difficult to rein in after this election is over. I, therefore, not only believe that it is imperative that he lose this election, he must lose by a margin so large that it serves as both as a repudiation of his hate and a mandate for Hillary Clinton to govern.  

That said, I reject the notion that this election can be reduced to choosing "the lesser of two evils". It is, in fact, about supporting the best candidate—the one who, despite whatever differences one might have with some of her positions, has demonstrated that she is tough, smart, experienced, and relentless in fighting to make America better. That's why I am proud to endorse Hillary Clinton. 

And, by the way, the fact that in electing Hillary we will have our first woman president is a matter of consequence. As a son, a brother, a husband, a father of three daughters, and a grandfather of five more, I will be so proud when Hillary takes the oath of office because at that moment they will know that there are no limits to which they can aspire.

These are the reasons I will be working to ensure a Hillary Clinton victory in November.

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