Hillary was my choice

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #8 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

Hillary was my choice for President…

She was my choice for President of the United States because she had a sense of duty, was articulate and thoughtful in her delivery and had weathered many storms both personally and professionally. Hillary had a long history of fighting for people outside the mainstream society who weren’t recognized as equals. Hillary had changed, mellowed and become more reflective through the years. She was a trailblazer in many ways as she had years of work on children’s, women’s and other issues for those without a voice. Yes, she had flaws and years of unfavorable press that were both justified and unjustified. Many people just didn’t like her.

Yet, it was her “lack of likability” that I respected the most in her. Hillary demonstrated to me she could distance herself from the emotion and separate the politics of situations, allowing her to not only analyze situations in isolation but to recreate multiple potential scenarios to find a creative solution. She understood complex relationships. She was criticized for staying with Bill, but she survived being humiliated beyond what anyone deserves and still raised a poised daughter. This spoke to me greatly. I have profound respect for her as the “comeback kid.” I especially admire the number of miles she logged internationally. The fact President Putin didn’t trust her or “like” her told me she was able to stand up to foreign powers. She was never given credit for her role of taking out Bin Laden.

It bothered me that many voters questioned her faith. To have survived the many positions she had that were not traditionally held by women, her husband’s indiscretions, and the amount of negative press she had, I found her resiliency to be a result of having great faith. How else would you continue to find the strength to go forward?

Admittedly, she was not an effective campaigner and didn’t have the likability factor that many voters need to feel a connection with a candidate. Voters want to feel as if they can sit down with a candidate over coffee to tell their story. They want to like the person. If they “like” the candidate, they turn a blind eye to the issues. Hillary could never get over this obstacle. Bill Clinton had to learn how to be personable with voters. He learned from his first loss as Governor. Hillary was always too academic in her approach for many voters. Simple sound bites resonate with voters; the bites allow people to make connections. Hillary always explained things beyond what was necessary. 

Ironically, knowing her, she is very personable and warm when you speak with her one-on-one.  She is probably one of the best listeners I have ever known. She has an uncanny ability listen to your words and translate them in the way you intended to be heard. Hillary hears you and is intrigued by opposing viewpoints and tries to incorporate them into solutions. Voters rarely saw this side of Hillary.

This last presidential election was very interesting. There seemed the perfect storm sociologically. It was reflective of many changes, fears and lack of hope in the American society.  As previously “dismissed” groups like those in the LBTBQ community, African-Americans, newer groups of immigrants and women became acknowledged as equals and “white privilege” became a discussion topic, the heightened amount of cognitive dissonance challenged many “norms” and values. Couple this with declining blue collar industrial opportunities due to increased technology impacting manufacturing jobs and the decline of the coal industry, the perfect storm was created. Whether you liked or disliked candidate Obama, he created “hope” for many voters. For many Americans, I think candidate Donald Trump did the same in his direct attacks and simple messaging. Hillary never found a way to “connect” with the very voters she could have helped through policy changes and administrative practices. She didn’t create a sense that “we can do this together” in areas where she needed the electoral vote.

She was hurt by Bush and Clinton fatigue and by the fact she was female.  Americans had many issues and wanted a “change,” for good or bad. I would argue that Hillary would have brought stability to the Presidency by having been one of the most experienced, qualified candidates who had ever run for the office of President. She had been First Lady, a U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of State, and a mom who had protected her child from cruel taunts; she was a survivor of an unfaithful husband who brought shame to the family and was as well-versed in policy as a person can be. To me she understood global issues and had the ability to make a difference in how the United States was viewed worldwide. 

Hillary understands policies and how they are translated into everyday life. I am disappointed that we will never know what type of President she would have been, but I do believe since she took so many “hits” that the next woman candidate for President will find that the Hillary blazed the trail for her. I also believe she gave many young women and girls the hope that they, too, could be the leader at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It just wasn’t her time.



let’s be real. can we?


Let’s cut out the crud. Let’s remove for a moment all expression of passion and perspective that sometimes impedes respectful dialogue and communication. Please hear me… I am not in any way denying the validity of your passion or perspective. I’m not denying mine either. What I am saying, however, is that sometimes the way we express how we feel gets in the way of others hearing us clearly. Believe me, if I feel something deeply, I want others to be able to hear me. I’m not out to merely affirm the likeminded.

So let’s be real. Let’s pause for a moment. Let’s come and reason together. Can we?

This election cycle has been trying. It started a long, long time ago, in sometimes seemingly a galaxy far, far away. We began with two first-name-only candidates on the left, and about 37 would-be candidates on the right. In fact, part of me wonders if our current scenario would be different if the left didn’t feel like a coronation and the right didn’t feel like a dogfight. But alas, I digress. This is the situation we are in, and I intend for us to navigate through it humbly, wisely, and well.

The situation, as I see it — and friends, I could be wrong — but I see the American people having a choice primarily between two unpopular people. We are gauging who is the least unpopular.

I hear you. There are good people arriving from all angles who love “their person”… Hillary Clinton… Donald Trump… even, for some, Gary Johnson, and for fewer still, Jill Stein. That is ok. I have complete respect for any who are passionate about the above. Unlike many, I don’t believe that all or most of any of the above’s supporters are ignorant, illiterate, racist, sexist, unpatriotic, or deplorable. I realize that’s not a popular thought. I also believe that to ascertain such about entire people groups is unfortunately a form of judgment.

But just to make sure I’m being real with you, I don’t have “a person,” so-to-speak; I don’t have a candidate that I am completely comfortable with as President, considering past behavior, current assertions, and all the consistent inconsistencies. Sadly but sincerely, my current, desired choice is thus “none of the above.” My challenge is that “none of the above” isn’t actually running. But I believe in voting — and so I will — but I’m not looking forward to it.

And so I come to the conclusion that prompts my plea to be real. Join me. Agree for a moment to put away the rhetoric and rants. Here’s the fact: assuming no unforeseen circumstance, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will soon become the President of the United States of America. One of them will be inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2017.

For the record, regardless of victor, I will not be moving to Canada along with the every-four-year entourage that threatens such a ploy. No matter my comfort level or desire, either Clinton or Trump will be my President. And here’s the unconventional kicker: I have great peace with that. As a person who cares for neither, I have peace with either.

My peace does not come because deep down I believe that either Clinton or Trump is “not all that bad.” No, with hesitation that this, too, may seem judgmental, I do believe that both candidates are significantly, ethically compromised. I know people would like to have me rail on Trump’s nothing less than misogynist comments, Bill’s rampant infidelity and treatment of women, and Hillary’s handfuls of lies and chastising those women — and truthfully, it’s all relevant — that’s what compromises each of them. My peace, though, truly, comes from elsewhere.

I believe in a sovereign God. I believe in an omnipotent, divine Being that is totally aware of all that’s going on. I don’t like all that’s going on and I certainly don’t understand it all, but my lack of comprehension does not change who God is. For whatever reason, God has allowed this current scenario to exist. He is not surprised by the evolution and awfulness of this election cycle. He is not surprised by how we’ve gone after one another on Facebook and social media. He is not surprised.

And so I must ask what he wants us to learn…

Is he giving us opportunity to learn to scream and shout and shove our opinions down one another’s throat? Is he teaching us how to point out the glaring lack of integrity in someone else without first wrestling with it in ourselves? Is he hoping to divide us more and even justify the rants, raves, and disrespectful name-calling?

Doubtful. My sense is he always desires from us something better and more. I’m just afraid we’re missing it.

Maybe he wants us to look at things in a new way. Maybe he wants to confront us with our own arrogance and judgment. Maybe he wants us to think outside the box. Maybe he desires we come back to our first loves. Maybe even, as a nation, he wants us to finally focus on what’s most important and get off our political high horses. All those “maybe’s,” all that wrestling… well, it can be unsettling indeed.

So why then do I have peace?

Because regardless of what we do or how we act — regardless of all the “maybe’s” — God remains unsurprised. My trust is in him. Not in anyone running for President.


debate numero uno


The following are realtime observations from last night’s debate from only a semi-humble, current events observer (sarcasm heartily included). Note that there was zero watching of pundits or reading of polls prior to posting…

Hmmm… I wonder if it will be more style than substance or substance than style tonight. I’d prefer the substance would be elevated; however, style makes for better TV… Speaking of TV… Clinton has more debate experience; Trump has more television experience. My sense is both are of value tonight.

I wonder if there will be any classic, future-frequently repeated lines… Reagan’s “there you go again” to then Pres. Carter… Veep candidate Lloyd Bentsen’s “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” to Dan Quayle… Or what about those seemingly timeless gestures? … Bush 41 checking his wristwatch… Al Gore’s infamous sigh…

Ok, here we go… Wait… there is something else to watch if we get bored, correct? Has Monday Night Football started? Oh, the Saints are playing… I do love Drew Brees, you know…

Introductions, obligatory handshakes, etc. Struck for a moment by the first woman ever to be in this position… and for a total outsider to be in this position. What history. It should not be missed on us. Our bias should not get in the way. 

There she is. There he is. Virginia and Colorado are watching. Lots of incredibly close states. Personally, I think they both look great tonight. Lovin’ the red pant suit and the blue tie… (And yes, moderator Lester Holt has a great voice.)

“Why are you a better choice?” asks the moderator… Oh, please… no eye rolling by anyone… at least not this early in the debate. I actually believe in seriously considering you both. That doesn’t help.

‘I want to invest in you.’ Thank you, Hillary. ‘We have to expand new companies.’ Thanks, Donald. Safe early tag lines. 

Why are they already interrupting? Don’t they know that not interrupting is Manners 101?

This just in from a friend: “Instead of everybody saying they are going to move to Canada, why don’t those two move to Canada and let’s just start over?”

Back to the questions… (Can we turn on the game yet??)

They smile and smirk when insulted. He looks angry… she looks annoyed. Just what I want in the leader of the free world…

“Bureaucratic red tape”… now that’s an obstacle we can agree on…

Tax returns, health records, and emails. Yes, ALL should be released. Both of you. Quit trying to make your opponent look worse when you’re doing the same thing in a different area.

“There’s something he’s hiding.” …Don’t you both owe us answers? Transparency? From a limited perspective, isn’t there information that you both have no desire for us to see?

How will he be on foreign policy? How will she be on trade? Can we tell with certainty?

It’s about time that this country has someone running who has some “idea about money.” Please tell me that’s all who are currently running for President (… sniff, sniff…).

Race is a significant issue in our country. We agree. As one wise friend texts in: “let’s hear solution! — not just more promises.” My heart hurts for what’s happening in Chicago, what’s happened in Ferguson, Dallas, etc. Both of you also speak of respecting law enforcement. Thank you.

Should “bad people” have guns? Is it ok for “good people” to have them? Great questions.

“We do always have to make sure we keep people safe.” Yes. Another amen.

And yes… we ALL need to be MUCH STRONGER on terrorism than we have been… PLEASE.

“I agree with you.” Could you two say that a little more often? We are Americans, after all.

“I think maybe there’s a political reason why you can’t say it.” Isn’t that why both of you say half of the things you say? Isn’t that why so many of us sitting at home are deeply disappointed in our government? Why we have trouble trusting you?

Work with the faith and business communities… what a wonderful idea. Let’s use the resources provided, rather than continuing to fun government as the source of all charity.

People “are very very upset for what their politicians have told them and what their politicians have done.” Yep. Oooh… here come the zingers. By both. So presidential. Not.

On the “birther” controversy… they both (and their surrogates) have used this when politically expedient. Not the biggest issue.

Oh, the truth… I crave that. From both. Isn’t that the problem with these debates? The truth often seems secondary to political ploys, good-sounding sound bites, rhetoric, etc. 

“We’re making progress” against ISIS. I pray to God this is true. Yes, it needs to be a top priority.

“How would you prevent homegrown (terrorist) attacks?” Thank you, Lester. I want to hear specific, actionable policy on this — not good-sounding rhetoric.

“Knock the hell out of ISIS.” I don’t swear much, but that idea sounds really, really great to me.

The singular greatest threat is nuclear armament. Scary. I think you both might agree. That might be scary, too.

Ooooh… looks like the gloves might have just come off. Again — by both — so not presidential.

Done. Sheewwww. Sigh. This is exhausting. Can someone finally turn on the game?

You mean we weren’t watching one?

Oh, wait… one more thought… Drew Brees. I love him. How’s he doing tonight? Is he free in November?










So let’s lead today with the bottom line: this election cycle is the oddest I have ever seen.

Now I am no ambassadorial expert nor Poli-Sci major nor anything close. I am merely a current events observer and only a semi-humble one at that. Ronald Reagan was the first President I ever voted for, and I’ve visited Jimmy Carter’s hometown twice. I was always struck by how a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs and a peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia could each become President and lead our country. I am again fascinated by who wishes to lead it now… odd as this cycle may sometimes be…

My spouse challenged me on the word “fascinated” last week. “You use that a lot,” he said. I do; it’s a great word. Note that “fascinated” does not infer positivity nor negativity. “Fascinated” means there’s something laced within the current condition that irresistibly keeps my attention.

So let us not dive into a “he-said/she-said/take-that” kind of conversation. The challenge when ignoring the timeless tip to avoid talking politics or religion is that the disrespect comes quickly from stances that are passionately engrained; we have trouble stepping out of what’s engrained. Granted, the Intramuralist has never avoided politics or religion, as we believe all things are discussable if we are mindful of the one who thinks differently.

With that as our backdrop — recognizing we do not all view this the same way — and we are not going to — I see some “fascinating” people involved in the 2016 presidential race — a vote, no less, that is still more than nine months away…

Let’s start with first-namers Donald and Hillary, as several of us are significantly, distinctly more grace-giving to one. And yet…

The Donald… he says some outlandishly harsh things. He seems to thrive on intransigent opinion and provocation of opposition. As HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher recently posed, “Donald Trump is largely a result of a backlash to political correctness.” In other words, there exists a perception among many of increased, imposed political correctness in our society, which has arguably prompted Trump’s clear lack of political correctness; that’s attractive to many people. Trump is thus tapping into frustration with those who believe society is on the wrong track, utilizing his contagious mantra of wanting to “make America great again.”

The Hillary… she says some outlandishly dishonest things. She seems to thrive on her unique female qualifications and being the target of fully political ploys. As long-time NY Times political columnist William Safire wrote 19 years ago, before he passed away, “Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady — a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation — is a congenital liar.” Clinton is staunchly dismissive of the accusations, saying she’s a victim, which also resonates with many people. She thus focuses instead on being a “champion” for others and how we are finally “ready” for “Hillary for America.”

What may be equally fascinating to this observer, are the justifications we offer, that seem to substitute for the above, perceived liabilities. Some will quickly, respectfully suggest, “Well, Trump may be harsh, but at least he’s honest,” while others will equally, respectfully counter, “Well, Hillary may lie, but all politicians lie.” My observation is that each is an acceptance of something lesser; each is an acceptance of something that is not good, not true, and not right. I am not suggesting that the harshness and deceit are automatic disqualifiers for their respective candidacies; more so, I am saying that I am fascinated at how often those traits seem minimized or ignored by their supporters and endorsers.

Yes, we tend to be significantly, distinctly more grace-giving to only one.

We should also acknowledge the additional others vying to be President #45, even though the media seems slightly obsessed with the above two. My sense is that all others running are currently being portrayed minimally and thus somewhat inaccurately — causing us to unknowingly craft incomplete assessments of both their campaigns and character. Granted, candidate Cruz is challenged by his brashness and Senator Sanders by his fondness for socialism. But the reality is that for these two and others, we think we know who they are, what they stand for, and how solid their character is — primarily based on social memes and minimal, often slanted coverage.

To be clear, as my older brother continues to remind me, no votes have actually been cast as of yet. Then again, that changes on Monday, with the start of the 2016 primaries via the  Iowa Caucus.

No doubt, therefore, the next nine months will continue to be fascinating.


who should lead?

a570af34Over the course of recent weeks, current events observers have had the pleasure of watching the elect jockey for presidential positions. “He’s in… he’s out… she’s in… she’s out… he formed a PAC… she gave a great speech… he had dinner with donors… she’s watching what he will do…” Persons are actively maneuvering — however (only) currently quietly — to be the next President of the United States of America. They are raising money and refining image, in order to have the best chance — and look the best at it.

Late this week, after publicly testing his toe in political waters, the most recent Republican Party nominee, Mitt Romney, announced he would not seek the White House in 2016. This semi-humble observer was thankful. It’s the same reason the Intramuralist remains un-thrilled with the prospect of a candidacy of someone named Clinton or Bush. I realize neither Hillary or Jeb have held the position before, but we already know who they are, and each has previously influenced policy to an ambiguous degree via their spouses and/or families. I, for one, desire someone new… someone fresher… someone who isn’t spending this time currently re-crafting a more popular public image. That doesn’t feel pure to me, and yet it’s an existent component of image deception that too many of all parties accept and embrace.

My mother insightfully shared with me years ago that once a person gets it in their blood to run for the Presidency, it never disappears. “They look in the mirror and see the President of the United States. Once they think that, they will always think that.” There is too much emphasis on self… on “me” being President… on “me” leading.

One of my honest, sincere disappointments in Pres. Obama — truly with all due respect — is that I hear “too much me” in him. There have been too many times during his tenure that his selection of personal pronouns has made me uncomfortable. I’m not attempting to be critical; I’m attempting to be transparent. It’s the same discomfort I would feel in my professor or pastor. This isn’t about them. It’s about leading well… You don’t have to be my President. You don’t have to be my professor. You don’t have to be my pastor. You have to be called. You have to be humble. And only in humility will you lead well. Only in humility will you realize that what’s in the mirror is less important than whom you shepherd and serve.

Great leaders are a rarity. Great leaders are not defined by oratorical skills nor re-crafted public images. Great leaders have a heart attitude that is above reproach. To be above reproach means self-emphasis and importance is never in question. A great leader never looks in the mirror and thinks about how good or wise he is. A great leader is a servant leader. As well articulated years ago by longtime leadership guru, Ken Blanchard:

“The servant leader is constantly trying to find out what his or her people need to be successful. Rather than wanting them to please him or her, they are interested in making a difference in the lives of their people and, in the process, impacting the organization… What do managers need to become servant leaders? The biggest thing they need is to get their ego out of the way… Servant leadership is something that people need. We need to support and help individuals in the organization to win. The days of the manager being judge, jury and critic rather than cheerleader, facilitator and listener are over.”

Exactly. The days of leaders who think they need to be judge and jury are over. We need cheerleaders, facilitators, and humble listeners… not people who look in the mirror and think, “That’s me.”