When Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders entered the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in May, he was little more than the punch line of a cruel political joke.
How much chance could an avowed socialist have of grabbing a major party’s nomination, much less be elected president?
Then it turned out that there are a lot of voters who were not scared off by the label, some because they are so young as to have missed the Cold War and its view of capitalist ideological purity.
Sanders’ railing against Wall Street, big banks, capitalist profiteers and their harm to common people struck a chord with these voters.
Enough, at least, to draw attention away from Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, senator from New York, secretary of state and (for some people, at least) presumptive Democratic nominee since 2008.
By the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, Sanders was making Clinton struggle to break even. He won the New Hampshire primary convincingly on Feb. 9.
Sanders, 74, is a force to be reckoned with in Democratic politics. How strong he will be beyond the early primaries is yet to be seen, but he has forced Clinton to work harder.
At some point, Sanders’ ideas of forcing radical change in the U.S. financial system and economy must give way to recognition of the full load of responsibilities a president must bear, the variety of challenges and duties that Clinton is uniquely qualified to handle.
For the sake of the nation, Democrats must give greater weight to Clinton’s experience for their presidential nominee.
Clinton, 68, has worked on social justice issues since her college years, continued that work after graduating from Yale Law School and was an active participant in husband Bill Clinton’s administration as governor of Arkansas and after he was elected president in 1992.
She was elected to the Senate in 2000 and was Barack Obama’s chief rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. She served as Obama’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
Clinton’s experience as secretary of state is crucial in this race and the one to come in November. No one else running for president has her depth of understanding of foreign affairs or can match her already forged relationships with foreign leaders, in war and peace.
America cannot put itself in the hands of a foreign affairs neophyte or a loudmouth likely to needlessly offend our foreign friends as well as our enemies.
It is also Clinton’s time as secretary of state that casts the darkest shadows over her recent past.
Republicans endlessly investigated her words and deeds after the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. They found no wrongdoing.
Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business as secretary of state was careless and irresponsible, but it has not yet been shown to be worse than bad judgment.
Fitting for a public servant of her tenure, Clinton has a long list of sound policy proposals, from aiming for a cure for Alzheimer’s to campaign finance reform, climate change, early education, higher education, the economy, gun violence, immigration, racial justice, Social Security, veterans, workforce skills and more.
And, yes, should she gain the Democratic nomination and be elected in November, Clinton would be our first female president.
There are better reasons to vote for her, but that one’s cool, too.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president.