For my NH undecided friends, and for people out there in states voting soon who haven’t picked a candidate:
I’m not registered as a member of a political party, but on Tuesday I am going to take a Democratic ballot and vote for Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
I didn’t decide finally until about a week ago. I’ve been thinking about a small number of candidates, some of whom aren’t in the race anymore and some of whom are. I just posted about how it is that I go about choosing whom to vote for in general, and hopefully this post will look like an application of what I wrote there.
I have heard Senator Klobuchar speak twice now in person. Apart from the policy proposals, which she shares with some of the other candidates, Sen. Klobuchar has a combination of intelligence, forcefulness joined to openness, and humor. She has a record of accomplishment on matters large and small, first in her (my!) home state of Minnesota and then as a Senator in Washington in the most challenging legislative environment in recent memory. She feels a connection to people whose lives are affected by what public policy has and has not done, and that connection seems rooted in her biography and the story of her family. She has a record of building coalitions beyond the Democratic Party. She projects in her words and her public manner the qualities of decency, dignity, and empathy that belong in the Oval Office.
One of the hardest things in the campaign is going to be battling with President Trump and talking about divisive issues and where division is coming from, while also staying connected to as many Americans as possible. Even without President Trump, the political environment would be polarized. Solutions in Congress to complex problems like health care and immigration reform have been elusive. I am looking for someone whose whole package of leadership skills and experience under fire gives her a fighting chance to detoxify our politics and also make an impact. Of the candidates remaining, Sen. Klobuchar strikes me as the one with the best chance to do all of that.
It also means something to me that she has the support of people in my community whose wisdom and fundamental values I know and trust such as Joe Foster, Helen Honorow, Bill Barry, and Rep. Latha Mangipudi.
For people in the Jewish community who wonder about issues of special concern to us, Senator Klobuchar has a record of supporting Israeli security as an American national interest, and being part of what has been and should be a bipartisan consensus on Israel’s right to self-defense and the desire for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has spoken out against anti-Semitism in our society.
I like to think I am not voting for Sen. Klobuchar just because of the Minnesota connection (though it doesn't hurt!)
I have thought about Mayor Buttigieg, whom I admire particularly for his reflectiveness and his willingness to talk about faith and about moral dilemmas in leadership. I think it says a lot about him that after Harvard and other experiences he chose to go back and try to make a difference where he came from even though it’s a small city, not the center of the world. Executive governmental experience is very important to the job of president. I think Senator Klobuchar has more experience and mettle for the job at hand in all its dimensions today.
I admire Sen. Warren particularly for her work on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was one of the most important actions with teeth that was created after the financial crisis. Exploitation in finance isn’t as easy to talk about as health care or education. The lessons Sen. Warren draws from her personal history are also compelling. What has put me off have been some of her attacks on people or groups who disagree with her. There is a way to disagree and to work strongly from one’s principles without mocking people or painting all opponents on an issue with the same brush, whether it’s a social issue or an economic one. Right now, we need a leader who is especially good at both winning and not-demonizing.
There is a lot of good in Vice President Biden’s record and his long experience, and also some bad policy judgment in that record. I admire the clarity of Sen. Sanders, and have been thinking more and more about his take on wealth and inequality and poverty than I have in a long time. I have in the past had less of a black-and-white approach about wealth (see my previous post, referring to philosopher John Rawls), but even if I agreed with Sen. Sanders, this is a moment when a politics that rebuilds the center is also necessary if we are really going to make headway on issues related to inequality (also see my previous post). Because of that, I haven’t done a lot of looking into his record or story.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts or blogs about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it won’t surprise you that I have issues with recent statements from both Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren.
I thought briefly about taking the Republican ballot and voting for Governor Weld to make a statement about the president. But as I wrote in the other post, I do not vote for symbolism but to make an impact.
So I have made my choice. I will be voting for Senator Amy Klobuchar this Tuesday, after being undecided for longer than I can ever remember being. Good luck making your choice well, and see you at the polls.