Bach: The Dissenting Opinion

The Editorial Board’s endorsement of Clinton overlooks her flaws.

by Jinsung Bach | 11/1/16 1:10am

On Oct. 21, the Dartmouth Editorial Board voiced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. I do not share my colleagues’ enthusiasm for the Democratic nominee. I am instead among the plurality of Americans that reserves a deep skepticism for both major party candidates, and I cannot overlook the many questions surrounding Clinton’s credibility as a leader. No matter how innately flawed her Republican counterpart might be, I find Donald Trump’s failings an ill excuse for Clinton’s own shortcomings.

I believe it is dangerous to look at a Clinton presidency through rose-tinted glasses. The messianic image that so many project upon Clinton — indeed, upon the entire Democratic Party — is not conducive to a thorough understanding of the person we are poised to elect as our next president. Whether Clinton really is our best choice for the presidency is irrelevant. If we choose to elect Clinton as the leader of the Free World, then we must do so knowing all her qualities, the bad as well as the good.

Over the course of this tumultuous election season, scandal after scandal has plagued Clinton’s campaign. As of press time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has renewed its investigation into Clinton’s email controversy in light of new evidence from the Anthony Weiner scandal. This follows allegations of criminal conflicts of interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, to speak nothing of the Democratic National Convention’s blatant undermining of Vermont Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Put together, the information presented to the American people paints an unflattering picture of Clinton, marred by double standards and underhanded trickery.

The Editorial Board’s endorsement calls these criticisms “unfounded and unfair” and asks the reader to overlook them in favor of her many years of public service. I say this is too much to ask of the American people, given the importance of upholding our nation’s ideals with integrity. Even if this behavior did not warrant criminal charges, it erodes most of the legitimacy she might have had as president. Her legacy would be one of endless doubts as people continually question her motivations and honesty, leaving her with no mandate to govern. As Clinton herself has so clearly emphasized, it is essential that America’s word be credible. Do the same standards not apply to America’s leaders?

Integrity aside, we have reason to be wary of Clinton’s policy positions. She has enticed many young voters with pledges of debt-free college and expanded entitlements, but she has said comparatively little about exactly how to carry through with these promises. Her platform runs on the promise to tax high-income individuals and corporations more heavily to finance her vision, but she fails to properly answer concerns that such taxes could adversely affect investment and entrepreneurship. I share the grave concern many Americans have that Clinton’s policies represent governmental overreach into many civil liberties, from gun control to mass surveillance of U.S. citizens.

A strong résumé of public service alone does not, as the Editorial Board suggests, a President of the United States make. The presidency requires a communion of faith with the people, born from a mutual trust that they can forge a better America together. Instead, there is a prevailing perception that Clinton places herself above the common American. Her struggle to inspire confidence in many voters reflects their resentment towards her, many of whom seem to feel like pawns in her agenda. No matter how much she tells the people that she is working in their best interests, the people will not truly accept her as their leader if she cannot command their respect.

Nonetheless, my criticism of Clinton should not be construed as an instruction to vote for another candidate. My only intention is to complement what the Editorial Board has written, in the hopes that the reader will have a clearer picture of Clinton as a candidate. If the reader truly believes that Clinton is the best choice for America, then he or she should by all means vote for her. A democracy means little if one can’t act on one’s own beliefs. Regardless, any position worth having is a position worth questioning to the last drop, and I hope the reader will take into consideration the other side and its respective concerns as well.