A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill

Hillary Clinton

I’d been working on a piece about reasons to vote for Clinton, but it was becoming huge and unmanageable. So I’m breaking it down into bite-sized morsels.

I recently did a poll of my Facebook readers, asking, “Clinton supporters — what are the main reasons you’re voting for her? Not reasons you’re voting against Trump, those are easy, but things you positively like about her and make you want to support her.” The entire thread is well worth reading, especially if you’re planning to vote for Clinton but aren’t wild about it — or you’re not planning to vote for Clinton and are wondering why other people are. And one of the themes that came up again and again: Clinton’s administrative skills and knowledge of government are fierce.

Clinton knows government inside and out. She knows how to get things done. She has years of experience in government, in the Senate and as Secretary of State: even when she was First Lady, she engineered the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a compromise she forged from the defeat of her attempts to create universal health care. Her platform is detailed, with specific policies and proposals for how they can be accomplished (a fact that, weirdly, may be detrimental to her campaign),

And she is well-known in Washington, even among her opponents, for her policy expertise, her willingness to study and increase her already prodigious knowledge, her work ethic, her ability to work with others and make effective deals while maintaining her tenacity, and her willingness to share credit (a useful and underrated trait in long-term political strategy).

Trump, on the other hand…

I don’t think I have to tell you that Trump is profoundly and dangerously ignorant about government, both domestic and international, and is arrogantly unwilling to acknowledge the limits of his knowledge. He is famous for his self-worship and his arrogant belief that he is the best at everything and that he and he alone can solve problems.

As for the idea that he’d know how to run the country because he knows how to run a business…

I’ve always been baffled by the idea that business people would automatically be good at government. For-profit businesses are not government, and government is not a for-profit business. Businesses exist to make money for their owners and stockholders. Governments are structures a society uses to pool resources for services that benefit the society, and to make decisions about how those resources should be used. Governments don’t have to make a profit. They’re not supposed to make a profit. They’re supposed to stay within a budget. (And some evidence suggests that they’re better and more efficient at that than for-profit businesses: Medicare actually spends less money on administrative costs than for-profit insurance companies.) In fact, many government programs are inherently not profitable, and privatization would either corrupt them or change them so radically it’d be missing the point. Public parks, for instance, can’t be made profitable without abandoning their entire purpose, and privatized prisons are a disaster, creating an abusive prison system with no incentive to reduce the prison population and every incentive to increase it.

But even if business success were a good reason to vote someone into office, Trump doesn’t have it. Oh, he’s been successful in that he’s personally wealthy. But his success has been built, to a great extent, on not paying his bills. I’m not talking about bankruptcy, which is a complicated issue that gets misused by both Trump’s supporters and opponents. I’m talking about flat-out stiffing people by the hundreds: employees, contractors, even lawyers hired to represent him in lawsuits from people he stiffed. In addition, his companies have been cited 24 times for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage. And these are only the cases that went to court. To quote USA Today:

The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether.

I want our President to know government inside and out, from the small details to the big picture. I don’t just want her to know policy and the players: I want her to know how to get things done. I want her to have good working relationships with the people she, you know, will be working with. And I want her to understand that a successful government doesn’t mean one that profits by stiffing people for work they’ve done.

I want Hillary Clinton.

(Comment policy: In addition to my regular comment policy, I’m going to ask people to keep comments narrowly focused on this issue. This is not a platform to discuss everything else you do or don’t like about Clinton or Trump. Thanks.)

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A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill

7 thoughts on “A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill

  1. 2

    This is one of the biggest things for me. I know she is a highly competent leader, and that more than anything is what we need in a president. I have a high degree of trust in her as Commander in Chief, trust her to lead our diplomacy in the world, and expect her to know how to work as a domestic policy administrator. Her policy positions are generally in line with mine, though like many others I have concerns about her willingness to confront Wall Street and do have concerns that she’s somewhat more hawkish than Obama. I have some quite liberal ideas but believe incremental progress is the only reasonable expectation in our system. Basically, I think we are to a large degree moving in the right direction and expect her to be a competent leader who will continue us largely in this same direction. My hope is that merely the effect of her being a new leader will allow some additional progress that an entrenched leader isn’t able to make. I want to hear more on her ideas to reinvigorate communities who have lost mining and industrial jobs, to free up lending for small businesses, to continue expanding the right to healthcare, and to secure or even expand Social Security to protect the right to a comfortable retirement for people who have spent a life working.

  2. 3

    I’ve heard this argument a few times before, & I agree with the premise, but not the conclusion. Most people who go into the Presidential races ARE experienced politicians, that’s why people put so much weight on their stances & other factors, because their quality of experience will usually be similar. Also because if they’re skilled, but they have a plan you don’t like, that just means they’re likely to implement a plan you don’t like.

    Obviously, in THIS case, you’re absolutely right about Trump, so it DOES become a relevant, distinguishing factor. However, of the implied goals of this argument:

    1. I’d characterize this as being more of a “reason to vote against Trump.”

    2. It certainly doesn’t make me wild about voting for Clinton, because again I’m still doing it because Trump is horrible & probably won’t even be capable of the job.

    3. It does sort of explain why people support Hillary, but it’s not the mere fact that people support her that confuses me, it’s the people who said they didn’t like her policies but were still ardently supporting her because of reasons.

  3. 4

    I’ve heard this argument a few times before, & I agree with the premise, but not the conclusion. Most people who go into the Presidential races ARE experienced politicians, that’s why people put so much weight on their stances & other factors, because their quality of experience will usually be similar.

    Lithp @ #3: I think you may be missing the point — which is that even among experienced politicians, Clinton’s knowledge and skill at government is off the charts. Your premise is incorrect: not all national elected officials are equally skilled, and Clinton’s skills and knowledge are legendary in Washington, even among her opponents.

  4. 5

    Greta Christina @ #4: I think you’re right about me missing the point, thank you for clarifying that & hopefully I’m on the right track now. With that said, among national elected officials, I once again agree with the premise that Hillary is probably more skilled & knowledgeable than normal.

    But I don’t think all national elected officials are equally skilled, I think that generally contenders in Presidential races have similar (but still not equivalent) skills, to have gotten that far. Trump being an exception, riding on media exposure, lowest common denominator, & snake oil salesman tactics. But I don’t know how I’d determine HOW skilled, because how do I measure that? Okay, so people who have worked with Hillary have good things to say about her, but from what I can find, her actual legislative record is very impressive if you measure the data in some ways, but not so much in others:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/08/09/which-2016-candidate-was-the-most-effective-legislator/

    I use that to illustrate that, among those in this graph, whether her actual record lives up to her legend or is just sort of average (for that level) depends on how the data is interpreted. But you could rightly point out that Hillary wasn’t just a Senator, she was also Secretary of State, or that even if she didn’t get a bunch of stuff passed, she still showed her effectiveness as a negotiator which is what the President would really need. Or various other points that I wouldn’t know how to fit in the comparison.

    Maybe she is the most skilled candidate, & the reason this eludes me is because I don’t know enough about the government to see it. But either way, I don’t see it.

  5. 6

    Two reasons I voting for Clinton.

    One, Supreme court. Being trans and a Women, this concerns me a great deal. Women’s health care and queer rights. She’s seems like she will continue the good work Obama has done for queer folks in general and trans people in particular. Hiring us and saying the word ‘Transgender people’ in public. First sitting president to do so. He knows we’re out here.

    Two, experience in government. Plain and simple she knows her way around the system like none of the other candidates does.

    I don’t want an outsider. And I don’t want someone with a vague policy outline. I want somebody with a plan, because other than making good sense, it’s how most of run our daily lives and businesses, with a plan.

    I’m not 100% happy with her. I don’t like her coziness with the big banks, but let’s be realistic, it’s how the game is played, if you want to win. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s way it is. It’s a consequence of citizen’s united. Which, needs to change.

    In conclusion, I’ll ignore her faults and concentrate on her strengths.

  6. 7

    One more thing. She holds up under pressure.
    She has been harassed, by the a**-hats in Washington for decades.
    She doesn’t flinch, she doesn’t waiver, she plows ahead.
    And if she doesn’t win, she regroups and has at it again.
    She has done this over and over.
    I think she’ll fight for us and not give up.

    The Bengazi hearings come to mind, as she outlasted the attacks by the idiots who wanted to nail her to wall. They found pretty much nothing and wasted a lot of our money trying to find fault. She made them look like the tea party bumpkins they really are. I admire how she handled all that.

    In a crisis, we need someone with these qualities.

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