I’m often asked how I can be such a staunch Hillary advocate when my views on several issues are to Hillary’s left. My answer is always the same: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the exceptional.
When Hillary hired me in 2006, it wasn’t because I agreed with her on everything, it’s because I didn’t.
In the years that I worked for her, I came to know a person whose fortitude, dignity, compassion and intelligence made her an exceptional candidate for the presidency. Hillary has precisely the qualities that make a great leader: deep knowledge of complex issues and a thorough understanding of the labyrinthine nature of governance.
That’s not to say that I am perfectly aligned with her positions. From drones to fracking, I remain to Hillary’s left on certain issues. [Though Tom Hayden’s switch from Bernie to Hillary because of her position on fracking, among other issues, has clarified my views.]
But I’m not looking for perfection — I’m looking for someone who has made mistakes, learned from them, changed their mind, evolved, adjusted, listened, responded.
I’m looking for someone who has the inner discipline to remain steady in the face of brutal headwinds but the courage to change course when necessary.
I’m looking for someone who has disappointed me on occasion but wins me back with the strength and steadiness of their character.
I’m looking for someone whose moral compass is evident throughout their life and who has the purpose, drive and experience to make their dreams a reality. Because that’s how our dreams become a reality too.
Hillary is that person. And her vision is one of fairness, justice and equality. One that I share wholeheartedly.
Is she a perfect progressive who has never cast a wrong vote, never adopted a wrong position, never taken the other side of an issue I care deeply about? Of course not.
Anyone looking for perfection in a candidate — or another person — will be searching for a very long time.
For my part, I won’t let the perfect be the enemy of the exceptional.
And Hillary is as exceptional a candidate for president as we’ll ever see. Securing health coverage for millions of children, as Hillary did, would be enough of an achievement for ten lifetimes. But Hillary continues to drive forward, devoting herself to public service and enduring the vicious attacks that come with it.
My friend and colleague Melissa McEwan describes the character it takes to do that, the indomitability that has come to define Hillary:
The things I routinely experience as the cost of my work—the harassment, the lies, the mischaracterizations, the threats of violence—are a small sliver of what Hillary experiences on an unbearably grand scale. I know how navigating this relentless onslaught makes me feel. And I am certain that Hillary feels the same way, sometimes. Not just because she is human, and no human is impervious to being such personal assaults—but because she has told us.
One last thing: Fighting to elect America’s first woman president and smashing the ultimate gender barrier is something to be proud of, no matter how much heat it brings. Defending Hillary against vicious character attacks is worth the intensity, worth dealing with the constant venom from her detractors.
You only get an opportunity like this once in a lifetime.
Actually, once in 227 years.