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Hillary Clinton for President

By the Jewish Ledger Editorial Advisory Board

hillary-clintonIf this were a normal election year, we might have continued our editorial policy of not making an endorsement in the presidential race. But this is no ordinary election.

Donald J. Trump is the least qualified, most flawed, and most dangerous person ever nominated by a major American political party. He is not the successful businessman he claims to be. He is not the political savior he claims to be.

He is a con man and a liar. He is interested only in promoting his brand name and furthering a megalomaniacal drive to power. His promise to “make America great again” is sheer hucksterism – the empty slogan of a demagogue who this year turned American politics into his latest reality TV show.

There is little substance and no coherence to what passes for the Trump platform. Consider those matters of communal concern to American Jews.

At the start of his campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly declared his neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Let me be sort of a neutral guy,” he said. “I’m going to give it a shot. It would be so great.” On the same day that he read a resounding pro-Israel speech to AIPAC, he said that Israel ought to repay the United States for its foreign aid – “big league.”

On the wider Middle East, he has been equally incoherent. Condemning the Iran nuclear deal, he suggests he will both modify its terms and cancel it outright. Saying he knows more than all the generals, he claims to have a plan to defeat ISIS but won’t say what it is. He has no problem with Vladimir Putin permanently backing the bloody regime of Bashar al-Assad, Israel’s most implacable foe.

Jews should take no comfort in the fact that Mr. Trump’s daughter converted to our faith and is raising her children in it. As a candidate – and apparently without objection from his Jewish son-in-law, a close campaign advisor – he has curried favor with out-and-out antisemites like the white supremacist David Duke. Lately, he has invoked ominous conspiracy theories redolent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to account for his trailing poll numbers.

The Trump campaign has traded on hostility to African-Americans and women, to immigrants in general and to Mexicans and Muslims in particular. A Trump presidency would unleash an American nativism that would not spare the Jewish community.

In stark contrast to Mr. Trump, Hillary Clinton is an experienced, disciplined, and knowledgeable public servant. She has been First Lady, U.S. senator from New York, and Secretary of State. She understands the weightiness of the job.

Yes, her record is far from pristine. She has little to show for her four-year stint as Secretary of State. Her use of a home-based mail server to conduct State Department business was sloppy and unwise, as was her failure to fully compartmentalize her high office from the ongoing work of her family’s admirable charitable foundation. Her robotic and lawyerly answers to questions about these matters do not help her cause.

But the charges against her – including Bengazi, the missing emails, a weakness for Wall Street – are minor. They cannot and should not be equated to the gross, manifold shortcomings of her opponent. She is qualified to be president. He is not.

From race relations to the economy to climate change to military affairs, Mrs. Clinton represents a moderate-to-liberal policy choice in keeping with the moderate-to-liberal attitudes of American Jews, who have overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates in national elections since before the Roosevelt era.

She has been a forceful advocate for Israel’s security and freedom. Her first trip to the Jewish state was in 1982, and from that day until now she has been a powerful advocate on its behalf. As senator, she led the effort to have Israel’s Magen David Adom accepted by the International Red Cross movement. She was one of the first senators to rise to Israel’s defense after Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear facility.

When she ran for reelection to the Senate in 2006, Jews who had doubted her commitment during her first run changed their tune. The Jewish Press, which had opposed her in 2000, put it this way:

“She has become an important supporter of the Jewish state both in public and, perhaps more importantly, behind the scenes. She is held in the highest regard by those who regularly plead Israel’s cause in the halls of government. For those who initially were wary of her positions on Middle East issues – and we include ourselves in that category – Ms. Clinton has proved to be a pleasant and welcome surprise.”

As Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton followed the lead of her boss, President Obama, in pursuing a two-state solution with two stubborn and implacable leaders, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. In her current presidential campaign, she has quietly tamped down anti-Israel progressives in her party, something Mr. Obama failed to do in 2012.

In sum, Hillary Clinton is not the lesser of two evils but a choice for good. She has earned your vote. We endorse her for President.

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