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Politics is, thankfully, not governance

Politics is a tough and sometimes dirty business, and no one practices it harder, colder and often more arrogantly than the Clintons. They run tough campaigns, they play clever word games to skirt the truth, and they change their positions depending on their audience and on what their polls and focus groups tell them. They are calculating and insular, and they often play by rules that don't apply to the rest of us. That's why I've never been a huge fan of the Clintons and have supported other candidates in primary campaigns.

But politics is not governance. Governance takes knowledge, experience and overall competence — especially at such a challenging time in the world.

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Governance requires the ability to process complex information, to understand the risks and benefits of proposed courses of action, and to prioritize and choose among them. Governance requires a familiarity with the various players involved in a particular matter — be they at home for domestic policy matters or abroad for matters of foreign policy — to recognize their respective interests and how they might be affected by various actions, and to form consensus without sacrificing important U.S. interests.

Governance requires good intellect, judgment and temperament, along with experience in government and diplomacy. Running the most powerful nation in the world at the most dangerous time in history since World War II is not a job for someone new to the arena of defense, intelligence and international relations. Whatever the causes of the violence and instability that plague much of the world today, the times demand someone who understands the multiple factors that led to this point and the multi-faceted approaches necessary to get out.

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I think we saw this clearly on the recently televised commander-in-chief forum. One candidate spoke in broad generalities, cliches and slogans. Another gave logically organized, measured responses to nuanced issues that were so rich in detail the moderator kept reminding the candidate to cut them down for time.

One candidate's responses were delivered in the language of politics. The other's were delivered in the language of governance; they made lousy sound bites and may not have fit into the TV time slot, but they formed the basis for coherent policy.

So I'm going to swallow hard and vote for Hillary when Election Day comes, not enthusiastically, but confidently and without a doubt that of the choices we have, she is by far the best. She's not — nor will she ever be — among my favorite politicians. But I have no doubt about her capacity to govern.

Syl Sobel is the author of children's books on U.S. history and government, including "Presidential Elections & Other Cool Facts" and "How the U.S. Government Works." His email address is syl.sobel@gmail.com.

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