On Oct. 8, the Deseret News editorial board urged Donald Trump to withdraw from the presidential race. As is the practice of the Deseret News, no candidate endorsement was made. However, the paper also specifically unendorsed Hillary Clinton by saying the paper could not support her either.
The un-endorsement of Clinton appeared more as a quick dismissal rather than a thoughtful analysis of her candidacy. The editorial board noted that they disagreed with some of her social and economic policies without describing which ones were problematic. And they accused her of a history of “self-dealing” that was implied as being similar to that of Donald Trump. That quick rejection does a disservice to Deseret News readers because it does not fully examine Clinton’s candidacy.
In background, Hillary Clinton is eminently qualified to be president of the United States. If voters saw a nameless resume of Hillary Clinton, they would consider that person well fitted to become president. Eight years of service as a U.S. senator and then another four as secretary of state is a record of government service held by few people elected to the presidency. For example, neither Barack Obama nor George W. Bush had as much government experience, particularly foreign policy background, as Clinton. In addition, although she lacked the formal title, she was the closest adviser to the president of the United States for eight years.
Moreover, Clinton accomplished some important things during that service. While a senator she introduced or co-sponsored bills to encourage American companies to make products in the U.S., regulate inappropriate content in video games, provide broadband internet service to rural communities, aid homeowners in refinancing their mortgages, and help update medical technology. Although a Democratic senator from a traditionally Democratic state, she also reached across the aisle and worked with Republican senators, including Lindsay Graham and Bill Frist.
As secretary of state, she served as a role model for women but also achieved more specific accomplishments. She negotiated an Israeli-Hamas cease fire and Iran nuclear sanctions, pushed for an additional presence in Afghanistan, and advocated the successful mission against Osama bin Laden.
Hillary Clinton has serious flaws, some of which I have noted previously. They include paranoia, avoidance of transparency, stubbornness and excessive political ambition. However, those are not personality flaws that are unknown to candidates, including some who have won the presidency.
Her connection with the Clinton Foundation is a grave weakness. But let’s be clear about the problem. The Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit organization that spends hundreds of millions of dollars for health care, economic development and education across the globe. It does a great deal of good.
The problem is the possibility of corporate and foreign government influence. Had the Clintons ended their political ambitions in 2001 when Bill Clinton left office, the foundation would not have been controversial. In fact, it probably would have been viewed much like the Carter Center, former President Jimmy Carter’s institution designed to solve global problems. However, the fact that Hillary Clinton was a prospective president (and policymaker in the Obama administration) put the Clinton Foundation in a different light. She should have distanced herself from it to avoid any connection with companies and foreign governments seeking favors.
However, to suggest that her “self-dealing” is comparable to Trump’s is unfair. The Trump empire is clearly self-serving. It is designed to make enormous amounts of money for its namesake, which it has done.
As far as her policies, voters should examine them carefully. They may find that, like me, they agree with some and disagree with others. But the reality is that it is unlikely any candidate adheres to every policy view each of us holds.
Another issue is the benefit to Utah. If Clinton wins, which is likely, a Utah vote for her will make her administration beholden to Utah. She will cater to Utah to win the state again in 2020, which would be advantageous to Utahns.
Voters should not readily dismiss her candidacy, as the Deseret News Editorial Board seemingly did. Rather, they should examine her experience, capabilities and views and decide for themselves after studying the candidates and the issues carefully.
Richard Davis is a professor of political science at Brigham Young University. He is the author of "The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics." His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of BYU.