Monday, February 11, 2008

The Democrat's Dilemma

What a time to be a Democrat! I mean really -- how many times in your life have you gone to the polls thinking: (a) my choice is the best of two evils, and (b) my vote's not going to make a difference anyway. I have only voted in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia -- all states with primaries in mid February. Normally, the Democratic candidate is clear by this point, so although I always vote, it usually feels a little pointless. But not this year! This year I get to choose between two highly qualified candidates, and my vote still counts!

So how to choose? I decided a while ago that Hillary Clinton is my first choice for the nomination, but how did I come to that decision? Well, I decided to look at it as if they were candidates for a job -- which, really, they are. It just happens to be the most important job in the country. I've served on several hiring committees, and we have a checklist rating system to use with each job candidate. Using the same system with Obama and Clinton helped clarify my choice.

On paper, the candidates have very similar qualities. Both are extremely intelligent, highly educated, motivated. In the "interview" portion of the process, their answers on policy issues are also quite similar, with slight differences in their ideas on health care and foreign diplomacy. But we're trying to fill a position that is extremely important to the success of our institution and is highly complex in nature. The dealmaker to me is this: Who has evidence of their abilities? I find Obama engaging and inspiring, but is that what's really needed in this position? Will me being more "inspired" by Obama actually help our nation right now? Or will we be in better shape with Clinton's experience working in both the White House and in the Senate? (And for the record, I also find Hillary Clinton quite inspiring, too.) Enthusiastic as he is, Obama's only been in Washington for 3 years -- is that enough to know how to get things done there (and abroad)? We have a lot of things that need to be fixed, and all involve working with the Congress, Republicans, and foreign leaders.

If I were the hiring manager, I would say that we should go with the candidate who has shown they can do the kind of work we will require of them. It's just too important a position to rely on enthusiasm and inexperience. As a part of this national search committee for this job opening, my vote goes for Hillary Clinton.

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