I have to admit that I am one of the only people I know who is really enthusiastic about the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Even my friends who are staunch Democrats and strong Hillary backers often preface their expressions of support with phrases like “I don’t really love her,” or “I am just not sure about her.” And to be honest, I am not 100 percent convinced of all of her positions. For example, she is much more hawkish when it comes to foreign affairs than I am.
In fact, my enthusiasm for Hillary is not driven by any of her specific policy or program proposals. And it is not rooted by my profound fear of Donald Trump in the White House. I am all in for Hillary because I believe that she will bring a fundamentally different leadership style to the White House, a style that, in my view, is both long overdue and could help political discourse in this country move back towards civility and compromise.
This thought first crossed my mind as I listened to testimonial speeches about her at the Democratic National Convention. Speaker after speaker after speaker who knew Hillary personally, who met Hillary personally, who worked with Hillary personally had pretty much the same things to say about her. She listens.
She listens. Imagine that. A leader who listens. And it wasn’t the proverbial “ she “listens to the American people.” She listens to the people around her and values what they have to say. And then she responds. She follows up and she stays in touch.
And there was more. The people who work with her say she always does her homework. She comes to meetings prepared. She asks great questions. And listens to the answers. I was impressed.
This sense of Hillary’s leadership style — do your homework, be prepared, ask good questions, listen, decide — was confirmed for me by the New York Times Op-Ed piece by Michael Morrell, former deputy director of the C.I.A, who has worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations. He wrote, “I found her to be prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument.” Frankly, those are the main qualities that I want in my president.
Honestly, I think there is a gender component to Hillary’s leadership style. I suspect that to succeed, women of her generation frequently had to work twice as hard, prepare twice as much (and be twice as smart) as their male colleagues. They had to build and nurture relationships. They had to earn respect from virtually everyone every day. I doubt that respect ever came automatically and it could be lost with a single misstep.
On the Republican side of the ledger, at their national convention, other than his children not one person said that Donald Trump was a great friend, a great partner, a great person with whom to do business. Not one person gave testimony to the way Trump helped them, inspired them, motivated them or lifted them up. Not one.
And during the Republican primaries we witnessed the spectacle of a gaggle candidates elbowing each other aside to claim the mantle of who would be the “strongest leader,” by which they meant who would carpet bomb Syria or who would lock up whom. The essence of the debate was captured in the moment that Trump and Rubio squared off over whose you-know-what was bigger. Really.
Over the next four years, the next president will have to face a lot of unanticipated challenges and problems. I remember that during his election campaign in 2000 George W. Bush called for a more humble foreign policy. And then 9/11 happened. The last thing we need is for a leader who makes decisions through the prism of an alpha dog masculine sensibility, a leader who threatens to take us into war if another country offends us in some way; a leader whose instinctive response to any perceived slight or disagreement is to “hit back harder.” I think we need a leader who will always be “prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument.” In other words, I think we need more Venus and less penis. And that is what Hillary Clinton gives us. So I ‘m with her. With gusto.