What I like about Hillary

This Rebecca Traister profile of Hillary Clinton is really, really good.  Read it.  No, seriously, read it.  Lots of great insight into Hillary, gender, Trump, how we choose presidents, and the contemporary political context.  Anyway, sure Hillary Clinton has her flaws, but what I so like about her is that she is about as sophisticated a thinker on public policy as there is:

Clinton is a master at identifying problems and coming up with plans to solve them. There is seemingly no crisis too small to escape her attention, no subject outside her wheelhouse. When she turns her energies onto bigger issues, her ability to see an interlocking set of concerns and her detailed knowledge about … everything can sound like a parody of female hypercompetence.

When Clinton rolled out a progressive set of policies for families at her May events in Lexington and Louisville, her explanation went something like this: We need a national system of paid family leave because too many women don’t even get a paid day off to give birth; workers don’t have a federal requirement for paid sick days; meanwhile, many dads and parents of adopted children don’t get any time off at all, and sons and daughters don’t get time to take care of aging parents. We also need to establish voluntary home-visiting programs, where new parents, especially those facing economic adversity, can get assistance in learning how to care for their children and prepare them to succeed in school, thus taking aim at unequal outcomes in the earliest years. Relatedly, we need to raise wages, because two-thirds of minimum-wage workers are women, which has an impact on single-parent and dual-earning homes and, when combined with high child-care costs, inhibits women’s ability to earn equal benefits, save for college, and put away for retirement. Minimum-wage workers currently spend between 20 and 40 percent of their income on child care; Clinton has a plan whereby no family would pay more than 10 percent on child care, but she also believes we need to increase pay for child-care providers and early educators, who in some places are paid less than dog trainers and who have their own families to take care of. All of this is tied to the need to strengthen unions and make health care more affordable through revisions to the Affordable Care Act as well.

Clinton’s holistic view of intersecting challenges and multi-tentacled solutions — tax incentives, subsidies, wage hikes, pay protections — is weirdly thrilling in its expansive perspicacity. But it does not fit on a T-shirt. It does not sound good at a rally. You cannot even really show it on the local news, because it is not as simple as, say, “Free college!” [emphasis mine]

Yep, that.  And Traister is right, hyper-competent and hyper-detailed (and thoughtful) policy proposals sure cannot compete with “free college” or “build a wall.”  And I get that this is lot harder to sell to the public.  But at least I can wish it weren’t that way.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

3 Responses to What I like about Hillary

  1. ohwilleke says:

    Chiefs of Staffs should be foxes. Chief Executives should be hedgehogs. A Chief Executive’s job is to set priorities and see the big picture, not to have detailed mastery and involvement in every solution to every problem in detail.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Honestly, we don’t know just how in the weeds she’d get as president. All else being equal, I’ll take somebody with a great understanding of policy over somebody with a cursory understanding of policy. Mostly, because not only is the devil, but many of his minions as well, in the details.

      • Jon K says:

        I like the fact that her policy proposals seem to be rooted firmly in reality. She identifies a problem and then comes up with a detailed framework that can serve as a starting point for negotiating eventual policy.

        It is so much more responsible, realistic, and honest to do what she did than it is to promise free college and unlimited, unrationed government provided healthcare for everyone. Those proposals are the modern day equivalent of promising a chicken in every pot.

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