Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Clinton in a World of Her Own

Listening to Hillary Clinton in Portland, three things are clear – she has the experience to be President, she has an compelling idea to propel her campaign and she is clearly thinking about running.
Hillary Clinton

After her appearance last night at the Oregon World Affairs Council, Clinton confirmed today to reporters “she is thinking about it.” She should.

When you look at the field of potential candidates from both major parties and beyond, few can boast Clinton’s credentials. She has been a mother, local civic leader, presidential adviser, First Lady, senator representing a state hit by unthinkable terrorism and secretary of state. She spent eight years in the White House, so she already knows her way around.

Experience isn’t always what the nation needs. But when you see the world aswirl in controversies from Russia’s attempt to recreate a Soviet bloc to continued turmoil in the Middle East to surging economies in the Far East, it seems useful to have someone in the big chair who can see the big global picture. It doesn’t hurt to have a President who has been in every major country and knows most world leaders on a first name basis. Or someone who has seen enough of the world to realize climate change is a security issue, not just an environmental issue.

People with experience usually have a history. They have made mistakes or wrong judgments. The deaths at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the fumbled explanation of what happened fit that description. But rather than disqualify someone for higher office, such experiences may actually prepare them to deal with bigger, uglier problems. Experience doesn’t always point to the correct path, but it can remind you of the wrong way.

Clinton’s nomination as a major party presidential candidate would make history, as would her election as the first woman U.S. President. But that alone isn’t a reason to elect her. What makes her potential candidacy compelling is her idea, based on a lifetime of advocacy, for equality of opportunity for all women and girls.

She makes the familiar arguments that inequality is unfair and immoral. But now Clinton says she focuses on an argument that turns heads on red necks – inequality is stupid economics.

Unleashing the full productivity of women is perhaps the most powerful, certain way to generate economic growth. Ensuring girls have equal access to educational opportunity guarantees a wider, richer stream of talent contributing to the future economy.

Clinton cites staggering statistics. Gender equality could add 5 percentage points to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, 8 percent to the Japanese GDP and 39 percent to the Egyptian GDP. Gender equality doesn’t require a massive government bureaucracy. It just requires an end to picking winners and losers.

Think of any other idea, from conservative, liberal, libertarian or yahoo circles, that can ante up a 5 percent GDP growth spurt. I couldn’t think of one either.

Removing ceilings, glass or otherwise, enabling women and girls to stretch to their full capabilities has other values as well, such as bringing a different, valuable perspective to decision-making in the corporate suite, at the head of small businesses or as part of a professional or technical team. This is diversity that doesn’t require anything but opening the door.

Clinton’s call for equality doesn’t stop at the gender divide. It extends to all races, religions and orientations. It is a rallying cry for creating a national village to make America stronger by rejecting division and embracing unity.

Pity her opponents who will be resigned to sniping at her experience and nodding approval, however reluctantly, to her idea.

Unlike Vladimir Putin, who Clinton said has a vision of the future that involves dragging Russia into the past, Hillary has a clear-eyed plan for turning the enlightened promises of our 18th Century founding fathers into 21st Century reality for fathers and mothers, boys and girls.

Maybe we should start wondering, as did a young elementary student who got in the final question last night, whether to refer to Hillary Clinton as Madame President or Mrs. President.



One comment on “Clinton in a World of Her Own

  1. Dan Keeney
    April 10, 2014

    First, I would love to see the polling on the issue of pay equality, because I’ll bet it is one of the only things that is moving the needle for Dems right now. They need to energize their base for the mid-terms and maybe this will get the women back to the polling booths.

    The concept of having regulations that determine fair wages is just such a terrible prospect. Employers have all sorts of good reasons for paying employees differently. Employees doing equal work may not be equally capable. One may have better leadership qualities or have a positive attitude that ripples through the team. One may be available to work weekends when needed or always seems to come up with the great ideas that get implemented. Perhaps an employee was very assertive and made a great case for why he/she should be paid more, while their peers were more complacent. And maybe one was hired when the company really really needed just that skill set and was willing to pay more to get it. Is that unfair? Maybe. Should everyone else have their pay adjusted? I hope it doesn’t come to that. As an employer, I WANT the employee who wants to be paid more. In my experience, that employee is willing to do whatever it takes to advance. The root of this whole thing is that the supposedly unfair pay is a direct reflection of the value of workers who are constantly looking over the shoulders of others and comparing themselves to their co-workers and assessing fairness. It is self-destructive behavior.

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