Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to cure society’s cancer. While he may have an uncanny ability to speak poetically about realigning the economic playing field to better enfranchise people of all classes, colors and creeds, he fails to recognize that cancer is “a collection of related diseases” driven by a diverse array of often confounding caustic variables — not a singular, static disease with one cause and one treatment. Though he certainly acknowledges the associations of racism, sexism and xenophobia, among others, with society’s cancer, his steadfast insistence that just fixing our rigged economy will cure us is a gross oversimplification.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, takes a more dynamic and multi-faceted view. Though she does not elicit the same excitement as Sanders when addressing large crowds, her ability to examine and analyze problems through a variety of lenses is simultaneously remarkable and inspiring. She understands that society’s cancers have metastasized to a degree where one generalized solution will simply not cut it.
Clinton’s life story is one of resilience in the face of (sometimes self-inflicted) attacks on her integrity. She has stood up to a sexist status quo and continues to break down the barriers separating the assumptions about and expectations of people of all genders. Her resilience has the potential to resonate with millions of Americans who have overcome struggles with a steeled resolve to leave their children and grandchildren better off than themselves.
I do not mean to take anything away from Sanders, who has brought an important issue to the forefront of public conversation, and is an excellent candidate to address the inequities pervasive in our current economic system. He has also successfully mobilized new and previously disenfranchised voters crucial for winning the White House in November.
Given the stakes of their campaigns, it is not unreasonable to question both candidates’ qualifications, explore past accomplishments and demand transparency about any inconsistencies.
While Sanders certainly says the right things, he is often unable to back up his statements with the concrete steps he would take as president to make change. He is not a single-issue candidate because he only talks about one issue; he is a single-issue candidate because he advocates the same solution to every problem.
Clinton, too, is not without her drawbacks. Though she could certainly be more transparent about her past missteps, her reluctance to do so represents the very humanity that she is often denied by her detractors. To expect someone who has spent her whole career being unfairly dismissed — often with arguments that fall outside the realm of logic and reason — to openly admit past mistakes, while a fair expectation in a presidential campaign, is also one that I expect to come to fruition as the campaign moves forwards.
I recognize the potential hypocrisy in my argument. I am cynical about the possibility of Sanders’ promises materializing, yet I am optimistic that Clinton will be more open to discussing the discrepancies that cloud her past. This is in part because she has already started to do so.
Furthermore, I am more worried about the failure of Sanders’ planned political revolution — which I concede would be rather brilliant — than I am the effects of Clinton’s past on her ability to not only win the general election, but also to effectively govern the day she gets into office.
We have made real progress exposing and strategically dismantling the multitude of malignancies that inhabit various regions of our society over the past eight years. We need a president who can navigate through our complicated political landscape, starting not after a few years on the job, but on day one.
Hillary Clinton’s breadth of knowledge, her experience challenging a rigged status quo and her ability to think about and address issues through more than one lens make her the best candidate for president in 2016.
Danny Sack can be reached at email@example.com.