Voters have the chance to choose one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.
For the past painful year, the Republican presidential contenders have been bombarding Americans with empty propaganda slogans and competing, bizarrely, to present themselves as the least experienced person for the most important elected job in the world. Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, after a substantive debate over real issues, have the chance to nominate one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.
Hillary Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party. She served as a senator from a major state (New York) and as secretary of state — not to mention her experience on the national stage as first lady with her brilliant and flawed husband, President Bill Clinton. The Times editorial board has endorsed her three times for federal office — twice for Senate and once in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary — and is doing so again with confidence and enthusiasm.
Mrs. Clinton’s main opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, has proved to be more formidable than most people, including Mrs. Clinton, anticipated. He has brought income inequality and the lingering pain of the middle class to center stage and pushed Mrs. Clinton a bit more to the left than she might have gone on economic issues. Mr. Sanders has also surfaced important foreign policy questions, including the need for greater restraint in the use of military force.
In the end, though, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.
The third Democratic contender, Martin O’Malley, is a personable and reasonable liberal who seems more suited for the jobs he has already had — governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore — than for president.
Mrs. Clinton is a strong advocate of sensible and effective measures to combat the plague of firearms; Mr. Sanders’s record on guns is relatively weak. Her economic proposals for financial reform reflect a deep understanding of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act, including the ways in which it has fallen short. She supports changes that the country badly needs, like controls on high-frequency trading and stronger curbs on bank speculation in derivatives.
Mr. Sanders has scored some rhetorical points against Mrs. Clinton for her longstanding ties to Wall Street, but she has responded well, and it would be comical to watch any of the Republican candidates try to make that case, given that they are all virtually tied to, or actually part of, the business establishment.
One of the most attractive parts of Mrs. Clinton’s economic platform is her pledge to support the well-being and rights of working Americans. Her lifelong fight for women bolsters her credibility in this area, since so many of the problems with labor law hit women the hardest, including those involving child care, paid sick leave, unstable schedules and low wages for tipped workers.