The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Practice of Political Moral Discernment
Today the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Editorial Board endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, breaking with 100 years of Republican endorsements.
They did so, they argued, because “these are not traditional times,” and “we need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.”
While it is clear that their endorsement of Hillary Clinton is also an anti-endorsement of Donald Trump, the editorial board felt it was their responsibility to the City of Cincinnati and the broader tri-state community to point out why it has to be her.
First, they pointed out her history of advocacy for 9/11 first responders, military families, children, women, and the LGBT community.
“Clinton is a known commodity with a proven track record of governing. As senator of New York, she earned respect in Congress by working across the aisle and crafting bills with conservative lawmakers. She helped 9/11 first responders get the care they needed after suffering health effects from their time at Ground Zero, and helped expand health care and family leave for military families. Clinton has spend more than 40 years fighting for women’s and children’s rights. As first lady, she unsuccessfully fought for universal health care but helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program that provides health care to more than 8 million kids today. She has been a proponent of closing the gender wage gap and has stood up for LGBT rights domestically and internationally, including advocating for marriage equality.”
Next, they compared the complete absence of Trump’s foreign policy experience with the accomplishments of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
“Clinton…was a competent secretary of state, with far stronger diplomatic skills that she gets credit for. Yes, mistakes were made in Benghazi, and it was tragic that four Americans lost their lives in the 2012 terror attacks on the U.S. consulate there. But the incident was never the diabolical conspiracy that Republicans wanted us to believe, and Clinton was absolved of blame after lengthy investigations. As the nation’s top diplomat, Clinton was well-traveled, visiting numerous countries and restoring U.S. influence internationally. She was part of President Barack Obama’s inner circle when the decision was made to go after and kill Osama bin Laden and negotiated U.N. sanctions that led ot the Iran nuclear deal.”
Also, they reminded us just what kind of good faith campaign Hillary Clinton is running.
“Her presidential campaign has been an inclusive one, reflected by the diversity of her supporters. She has even moved to the left on health care, expressing a willingness to consider Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer “Medicare for all” health care plan. Clinton has talked about building bridges, not wall, and has a plan to keep immigrant families together with a path to citizenship.”
In conclusion, they made their final moral appeal.
“In these uncertain times, America needs a brave leader, not bravado. Real solutions, not paper-then promises. A clear eye toward the future, not a cynical appeal to the good old days. Hillary Clinton has her faults, certainly, but she has spend a lifetime working to improve the lives of Americans both inside and outside of Washington. It’s time to elect the first female U.S. president—not because she’s a woman, but because she’s hands-down the most qualified choice.”
What is intellectually striking about the Cincinnati Enquirer’s endorsement is twofold.
First, that it courageously breaks with 100 years of tradition of supporting Republican presidential candidates in order to make the moral case for Hillary Clinton as a “brave leader” and “the most qualified choice” against the likes of Donald Trump. In a “normal” election season, or if Jeb Bush had clinched the Republican nomination, this endorsement wouldn’t have happened. Nonetheless, the editorial board was able to look past two planks in their own eye.
The first plank is their self-interest to keep with tradition. And the second plank, to look past what they saw as Hillary’s “faults.” And they did so in order to contribute and participate in a future common good of society that they believe President Hillary Clinton will be able to effect at home and around the world.
And the editorial board’s courage in moral discernment, in the anticipation of Trump supporter backlash, should be commended.
Secondly, the editorial board pointed out the best feature of Hillary Clinton’s character, and what can be argued the most fundamental distinction between her and her opponent: “Hillary Clinton…has spent a lifetime working to improve the lives of Americans…”
This point, and the broader moral argument that the editorial board presents as the case to vote for Hillary Clinton in November is the best appeal that has been made to date.
Their final point—that she has spend her life working to improve American lives—gets at the heart of an argument especially contentious in the Catholic American public policy debate over which candidate will do the “most good” and “least harm” as President of the United States.
And they are absolutely right when they point us to consider the fact that it boils down to this: While Hillary Clinton has spent her lifetime trying to do the most good for others by placing the must vulnerable of society at the center of our public policy debate, Donald Trump has spent his lifetime trying to do the most good for no one else but himself.
As the editorial board so brilliantly points out, “Trump brands himself as an outsider untainted by special interests, but we see a man utterly corrupted by self-interest.”
And as they also pointed out, “Why should anyone believe that a Trump presidency would look markedly different from his offensive, erratic, stance-shifting presidential campaign?”