Clinton best choice for Ky. Democrats

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is the most-qualified person running for president of the United States and has demonstrated the deepest understanding of how to address the challenges facing Kentucky. Kentucky Democrats should vote for her in the May 17 primary.

The difference between Clinton and her leading opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, was evident in their appearances this week in Kentucky. Sanders appeared in Lexington and Louisville, giving his standard stump speech to large and enthusiastic crowds. Clinton’s two-day tour of Appalachia included a session in Ashland where she talked with about 25 people for two hours about the region’s problems and promise. Two other candidates on the ballot have not been active in the race.

Clinton, who has served as secretary of state and in the Senate representing New York, in addition to her eight years as first lady during her husband Bill Clinton’s presidency, has an impressive resume and a thorough knowledge of both this country and its place in the world. She’s smart, extremely knowledgeable, thoughtful and — after decades of withstanding virtually every possible attack — unflappable. In a word, she’s presidential.

Sanders raises important issues about income inequality and the corrosive impact of big money on political life. His campaign has transformed the Democratic nomination process from an off-putting coronation of Clinton into a real debate on the future of this country.

In the process he has energized countless young people and pushed Clinton to embrace more progressive economic policies. He has offered an alternate path to address the discontent of the millions in this country who feel left out, disenfranchised politically and economically, that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has tapped into.

Yet, while Sanders has lit up crowds of thousands, Clinton’s history of championing progressive causes confirms her commitment to bringing about a safer, more equitable world.

She has consistently and effectively backed expanded access to health care and women’s rights. She has courageously defended Planned Parenthood and taken on the National Rifle Association during this campaign.

Sanders has drawn huge applause endorsing tuition-free public higher education. We don’t necessarily disagree with this goal but doubt the likelihood Congress and the states would sign on. Clinton’s platform calls for reforms to address college costs that, while perhaps less enthralling, are more realistic. They include refinancing student loans to lower interest rates and devising a system to tie loan repayments to earnings.

As for Kentucky-specific proposals, while in Ashland Clinton laid out her vision for something similar to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II to help Central Appalachia recover from the economic devastation of the decline of coal. She spoke specifically to protecting miners’ health and pension benefits in the face of mine closures and bankruptcies. Her plan also calls for federal assistance to create alternative jobs in coal country and more money for research aimed at keeping coal in the nation’s energy mix while limiting its environmental impact.

Clinton’s more nuanced understanding of international relations and trade also makes her the stronger candidate. Sanders, and others, can thunder about trade agreements that cost Americans jobs but Kentucky, where the automotive industry employs tens of thousands, has benefited tremendously from international economic alliances. We can’t rely only on domestic employers or consumers to create the good jobs that everyone wants for Kentucky, particularly Eastern Kentucky.

This country and state need a president with the intelligence, experience and resilience to lead in a complex and dangerous world. Clinton is the Democratic candidate best suited for that job.