I am certain that this will be an unpopular editorial, but here we go. Every time I watch a debate or an interview with the current cast of characters who are running for president, I have the same thought: Hillary was better prepared to be president. I understand that she was a flawed candidate. She ran a flawed campaign. She had baggage as all candidates do. (Harris had a controversial affair; Klobuchar made controversial judgments while DA; Booker had a crazy Spartacus moment and has a propensity to grandstand; Biden has a controversial legislative track record; Buttigieg has questionable handling around South Bend racial issues and the recent police incident; Warren lied about her ethnicity; Sanders honeymooned in Russia and has a controversial gun record; etc., etc., etc.)
One of my former colleagues used to say, “Everyone has baggage; you just have to figure out what bags you are willing to carry.” In my mind, Trump’s baggage is the heaviest of all, but that’s just me.
Obviously, Hillary has her emails, Benghazi and much more. (These emails are currently an art exhibit in Venice where Hillary sat last week and read one boring email after another.)
My point is that Hillary would have made a very good president. She is a policy wonk. She had the respect of our allies—not Putin. Her experience is head and shoulders above all candidates currently running and far exceeds the incompetency displayed regularly in the current White House. She is an attorney, spent eight years in the White House as first lady, and was a New York senator for eight years where she got great reviews. She always did her homework, always read and was well versed in every bill that was under consideration; and she served four years as Secretary of State. Apart from Biden, who else comes close to having that type of perspective or experience? It’s criminal that this think tank of knowledge that Hillary possesses is being wasted. As far as I know, no one is calling on her to ask her insights or perspective on the issues of the day.
If the travesty of this administration has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that substantive knowledge, experience and expertise matter. Understanding context, history, and the nuances of complex issues is important. This fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants governing with the mantra, “we will see what happens” is embarrassing. We are better than this. The other day I listened to yet another one of Trump’s ad hoc press conferences—usually held in front of a whirring helicopter or Air Force One—and counted 23 “we will see what happens” statements.
I’m not saying that the best candidate needs to be old. I am saying that we need a candidate who respects knowledge and experience; who seeks the best qualified people and uses them as sounding boards; who speaks intelligently about what has happened in the past and understands the pros and cons of different approaches; and who acts in a measured and thoughtful way. I am hungry for reason, depth, insight, and integrity. I am hungry for a President who respects other countries’ cultures and histories and who understands their journeys.
Perhaps I am alone in being deeply saddened that the US still has not elected a woman president. It’s past time. Elizabeth Warren is rising in the polls, and she has some attributes that I described. But she’s not a pragmatist. Her plans are not measured and realistic given our country’s current national debt of $22.5 trillion. Her international experience is virtually non-existent, and she sometimes flounders and obfuscates when asked detailed questions about her foreign policy plans.
I fantasize about a Klobuchar/Buttigieg ticket. Why? Because I think the two of them are realists—pragmatists who care much more about the country than they care about promoting themselves. They respect and celebrate our diverse population. And they are open to new ideas and willing to chart a course with measured steps that will lead us in the right direction.
I also hope that this country does a much better job of benefiting from the knowledge and experience of past leaders. One of my favorite poems is The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. In that poem, one of the stanzas reads, “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.”
Humility is something we have not seen in this administration that pretends to have all the answers. The audacity of that presumption alone speaks for itself.
Maria Grant served as principal-in-charge of the Federal Human Capital practice with Deloitte Consulting. Since her retirement, she has focused on reading, writing, music, travel, gardening and nature. She cherishes the hummingbirds that gather daily just outside her screened porch overlooking Island Creek.