Why #ImWithHer (1/4): The Art of the Deal

During the first Democratic Primary debate, moderator Anderson Cooper questioned Hillary Clinton’s credentials as a progressive Democrat. Her response became a campaign mantra. “I’m a progressive,” she said, “but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.” The statement resonated because the statement is true. Hillary Clinton has shown throughout her career that she is capable of rising above political gamesmanship and cooperating with members of both parties to bring about changes that create equality of opportunity, empower women and children, and improve life for American families.

Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain

The American people are tired of unnecessary partisan bickering. We are tired of a do-nothing congress that is more interested in finger-pointing than it is in governing. Compounding this problem, we have a Republican nominee who has spent months throwing insult after insult at senior members of his own party. He has burned bridges with everyone from Mitt Romney and the Bush family to Paul Ryan and John McCain.

Granted, the rhetoric that political parties throw at one another is always going to get nasty in an election year. But it is an irony of Hillary’s life that she has always worked hand-in-hand with Republicans and Democrats alike, despite the GOP’s aggressive work to neutralize her electoral chances. You don’t need to take my word for this. Just take a look at what her opponents had to say about her before she kicked off her most recent bid for the presidency.

Senator McCain said that Hillary Clinton did “a tremendous job” as Secretary of State and duly noted that she is “admired throughout the world.” Governor Huntsman, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to China called Secretary Clinton “the measure of a leader” and said she is “gracious and kind to all people.” Back in 2013 when the United States was facing a government shutdown, current Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated his belief that under a Hillary Clinton presidency “I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now.” Her record shows that this confidence is well placed.

Hillary Clinton, then First Lady of Arkansas, on a public school visit

During her time as First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton was appointed to chair the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee. Determined to revamp the state’s educational system, (then one of the very worst in the nation by most measures) she traveled to every county and solicited opinions from more than 7000 Arkansans. After wading through the advice of teachers, administrators, parents, and students, her committee put forward a plan to reduce class sizes, offer a wider variety of courses, create core curriculums with more rigorous standards, and increase accountability by testing teachers and students alike. As her plan became state policy, one Arkansan legislator remarked, “I think we’ve elected the wrong Clinton!” Mike Huckabee, a later Governor of Arkansas and a Republican has said that Hillary is “smart,” that she’s “tough,” and that “she’s a policy genius.” He was certainly a witness as her work was credited for helping educators bring Arkansas’ schooling system up to mainstream levels.

It is well known that as First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton was tasked with compiling a plan to revamp the nation’s healthcare system — legislation that that ultimately failed in congress. After this loss, the administration was hesitant to focus additional energy on universal healthcare priorities, but Hillary never gave up. Within the White House, she was able to secure administration support and a promise of funding for Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy’s, and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP.) At the time, Senator Kennedy told the Associated Press that “The children’s health program wouldn’t be in existence today if we didn’t have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.” After its passage, Hillary Clinton joined many Republican governors in promoting the Insure Kids Now campaign, which worked to enroll needy kids in CHIP. Thanks to this bipartisan work, CHIP provides health insurance for more than 8 million children in low-income families today.

First Lady Hillary Clinton testifies about health care on Capitol Hill

While working in her capacity as a US Senator, Hillary Clinton regularly showcased her ability to stand up for her core principles while finding common ground with many of her Republican colleagues. Within 48 hours of the September 11th attacks she had sponsored a bipartisan bill that secured health insurance for the first responders who had rushed to help as the World Trade Centers crumbled. In the days after the attack she worked with the Bush Administration to secure 20 billion dollars in aid to help rebuild Manhattan. In 2005, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who worked with then Senator Clinton on many issues, recognized her as a key player in passing legislation that provided access to federal healthcare benefits for all National Guardsmen and Reservists.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary Clinton, and Palestinian President Abbas

Senator Graham’s praise didn’t stop there. As Hillary Clinton was wrapping up her work as the nation’s top diplomat, he called her “a good role model,” and “one of the most effective secretary of states, greatest ambassadors for the American people that I have known in my lifetime.” Her coalition building isn’t limited to domestic policy. She worked with then Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on an agreement which tightened limits on Russia’s deployed strategic nuclear warheads and other weapons of war. Alongside the Egyptian president, she was able to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after 8 days of bloodshed threatened to devolve into a larger conflict. She was also responsible for building an international coalition that imposed the tough sanctions on Iran — sanctions that eventually brought the Iranians to the negotiating table, put a cap on their uranium enrichment program, and ensured that the United Nations would have access to regularly inspect Iranian nuclear facilities and prevent weaponization.

Secretary Clinton was very effective in repairing America’s image abroad, and her many wins on the diplomatic front have made America and its allies more secure. Her accomplishments have merited the endorsements of 95+ retired generals and admirals, and droves of foreign policy experts from the Bush and Reagan administrations. Former Republican Secretary of Defense, General Petraeus has said that Hillary Clinton is “resolute, determined, and controlled,” and that “she’d make a great president.” She’s the choice of those who have spent their lives analyzing the threats our country faces.

Presidents George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter

It should come as no surprise then, that Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama are voting for Hillary Clinton. They know exactly what the job entails; they know what it’s like to govern from the oval office, and they know what it’s like to have their fingers on the nuclear codes. It is telling that not a single president, past or present, has seen fit to endorse Donald Trump or any of Hillary Clinton’s third party opponents. These men, Republican and Democrat alike, are with her.

Despite the words we hear coming from those on the fringes of the political spectrum, both on the far right and on the far left, compromise is not a synonym for hypocrisy. Principled compromise is the essence of good leadership. America will need a leader in the coming years who can strike good agreements between Republicans and Democrats on everything from affordable college and immigration to criminal justice reform and infrastructure funding. Hillary Clinton’s experiences as First Lady, as a US Senator, and as Secretary of State have left her uniquely prepared to make the kinds of deals that will keep America safe and help Americans to prosper. #ImWithHer. I hope you are too.

Read Part 2 here. “Why #ImWithHer: Steady Hands”
Read Part 3 here. “Why #ImWithHer: Stronger Together”
Read Part 4 here. “Why #ImWithHer: A Woman’s Place”