Bernie Sanders, the Junior Senator from Vermont, is challenging (former) Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton for the 2016 Democratic Nomination for President. Sanders has a long personal involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, and Clinton was previously the First Lady, Senator from New York, and a Democratic Presidential contender in 2008.
Senator Sanders is a charismatic campaigner and a dynamic speaker who has attracted large crowds to his speeches around the country. Clinton, in contrast, evokes a buttoned-down image, and seems to be protective, scripted and aloof. While Bernie comes across as everyone’s favorite “Uncle Charlie”, with a high likability quotient, Hillary is viewed more with skepticism, and is somewhat lacking in personality. This blog post is not, however, about popularity; but, rather a pragmatic comparison of the basic facts.
When you compare Sanders and Clinton, at least judging from their prior government experience, they are as different as Night and Day. Bernie Sanders was the Mayor of Burlington, VT, a State Senator, a U. S. Congressman and has served in the U. S. Senate since 2007. Throughout his career Senator Sanders has primarily been focused on the shrinking American Middle Class and the growing Income-Inequality. In recent voter polls, however, Sanders has surpassed Clinton in both Iowa and (his neighboring state of) New Hampshire. The party nominations, however, are still a year away.
Besides being the First Lady during her husband, Bill Clinton’s Administration, Mrs. Clinton was the first President’s wife to have an office in the West Wing (among various Presidential Advisors) when she led an unsuccessful effort to establish a national health care program. When Bill left office, she served as a Senator for New York. She was defeated by Barack Obama in his successful 2008 run for the Presidency, following which she served as President Obama’s Secretary of State, from 2009 to 2013.
Secretary Clinton had been dogged by the various Congressional Hearings over the loss of four American lives in an attack on the State Department outpost in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. Those hearings appear to have been politically motivated, however, since the attacks pale when compared to various other attacks on State Department locations, which claimed more lives during prior administrations. Most recently, Mrs. Clinton has been embroiled in the investigation of classified (including potentially Top Secret) Emails on her personal web server, at home in New York. That investigation is still on-going.
The job of a President does not require the office-holder to be an expert in a multitude of different areas–nuclear energy (for instance), health care insurance, securities regulation, the environment, etc.–since he or she is able to hire the necessary expertise from among the most capable experts in the respective fields. When it comes down to the Democratic Debates, however, their personal knowledge of the issues might offer some relevance.
Senator Sanders appears to have been more involved on important domestic issues, such as civil rights and income disparity; but, Secretary Clinton’s assumedly greater command of the national health care program and foreign affairs–two topics that are expected to be primary Republican targets–might sway some votes.