Monday, May 30, 2016

Ranting On..."I Just Don't Like Hillary"

I have a lot of pet peeves each election cycle, some of which are coming out raging this year, some of which are actually getting a pass (particularly the "this is the most election of our lifetimes"...mostly because it actually feels true this time).  However, no pet peeve is greater to me than "there's no difference between the two parties or candidates."  It's one trotted out, primarily by people who don't understand politics or who want to sound smart during a conversation when in reality they sound like morons.  It is brought out each year, but in particular this year it feels like something that has to be addressed, because so frequently I hear from people in my life that they "don't like Trump, but they don't like Hillary Clinton either."  I figured it was worth examining this line of thinking since I've heard it ad nauseum in the past few months.

The reality is that I like Hillary Clinton, and always have.  I voted for her in 2008 because I figured she had the experience that was needed, and because I think she would make a fine leader for the country (for the record Bernie Sanders fans, I also was enough of an adult to realize my team lost and promptly turned around and vociferously, proudly supported Barack Obama).  Hillary Clinton has devoted her life to women, children, and the disenfranchised.  She has taken unpopular stands on issues that were particularly important to her (gay marriage may have been a blemish, but her push for universal healthcare pre-dates President Obama's career in politics, and she has been a champion for the results-driven backbench work that actually gives real answers to solutions, such as her many moves throughout the world to improve situations for women abroad and improve healthcare systems in developing nations as Secretary of State).  She also had to weather an unusually large amount of personal fire to get to where she is-she has been attacked mercilessly for her appearance, her marriage, her ambitions, and yet she comes out of that as someone who still relentlessly keeps her eye on the ball.  Yes, she's the girl in your class that wanted to run for every club presidency, but she's also the girl who actually made sure all of those clubs she was in charge of were successful and accomplished their purposes.  As someone who is deeply goal-driven and who loathes the idea of coasting, she's an ideal candidate for me.

The question I have for everyone around me is, why isn't she the ideal candidate for you?  I will accept people who don't agree with her political positions, so Republicans (for the moment), you can take a chill pill.  If you aren't pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, or in favor of a system like universal healthcare, I get it (actually, I don't, but for the sake of not creating a 15,000-word article, let's say that I do), but if you are what's not to like here?  Is it because she has had some ethical clouds around her in her lifetime?  Because let's be honest here-most of the Clinton administration stuff needs to be hung around the head of her husband, not Hillary.  We don't go around blaming Nancy Reagan for Iran-Contra or Laura Bush for Hurricane Katrina or Michelle Obama for  And the reason for that is we assume they weren't in the room, but Hillary Clinton wasn't in the room then anyway.  To pretend that Clinton, because she eventually went into politics, held considerably more sway during the Clinton White House is putting a lot of blame on a woman who didn't have any constitutional power.  Yes, she had the president's ear, but so did every other first lady.  Demonizing her for the problems of her husband, particularly for issues that she clearly didn't have any obvious interactions with, is specious reasoning.

Which means you have to find scandals when she was Secretary of State or senator, and quite frankly those are harder to come by than FOX News would allow you to believe.  She did run a tough campaign against Barack Obama in 2008, but so did Joe Biden.  Benghazi was a tragedy and the State Department should have taken requests for more security more seriously, but there was no way of knowing in advance that the attacks would happen to the extremes they did, and Republicans have turned this tragedy into essentially something to bludgeon Clinton repeatedly over.  Plus, no one has learned the lessons of Benghazi better than Clinton, and that would surely show in her administration.  Her email "scandal" feels like perhaps some bad judgment, but judgment based in history as her predecessor Colin Powell had also used a personal email account.  Quite frankly, Clinton's aura of scandal feels more perpetrated by the FOX News crowd, and in many ways the scandals surrounding her specifically are as specious as those "scandals" that surround Barack Obama, and yet he still enjoys near universal favor amongst Democrats.

Is it because she's more moderate?  Because we have a president that Democrats love who was far more moderate than Hillary Clinton has ever been, certainly not in 2016, named Bill Clinton.  Bill Clinton was the quintessential moderate Democrat who won the White House, and yet Democrats love him.  Is it because she's changed her mind on some issues?  If so, let's admonish Bill Clinton yet again, alongside Barack Obama and Joe Biden, because they've all gotten on the gay marriage train late and changed their minds on a number of issues through the years.  Hillary Clinton's main ethos, that of a "progressive who gets things done" has stayed pretty much constant.  Is it because she's ambitious and desperately wants to be president?  Because if it is, there are 43 men and the guys they lost to who also need to be hated too.  You don't succeed at the level that Hillary Clinton has, where you actually win the nomination of the party, and not have clear ambitions and a compass that only points north (or whatever direction the White House is).  It can't be done-there are too many things in your way, more distracting and easier posts, to stop you if that isn't your clear, key goal.

With all of these things out of the way, it's hard to pinpoint why people hate Hillary Clinton, except that they will always come up with vague words like "untrustworthy" or "craven" or "ruthless" as if these are adjectives you couldn't pin on every politician.  If you just don't like politicians in general, why single out Hillary Clinton?  No one says about Barack Obama or George W. Bush or even Donald Trump "I just don't like him" without any explanation-there are policies or actions they have taken or comments they have made that will be cited.  I really don't want to pull out this card because it feels like it could get overused, but it's hard not to see anything other than sexism when Democrats (especially since they're predominantly male Democrats) loathe on Hillary Clinton when a man in her position (a combination of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, with perhaps a tad bit of Warren Christopher thrown in), would be widely celebrated.

Most people aren't willing to label themselves as sexist, but be honest here if you're one of those people who simply hates Hillary Clinton-why do you hate her?  If you're not a Republican, what is not to like here-she celebrates nearly every core ideal of a Democrat, and she's done so against a media and opposition that no one, save President Obama, has ever had to deal with?  Are Democrats still at the point where they want someone more like Sarah Palin, someone who was randomly chosen by a man, to assume the White House, rather than someone who clearly wants it for herself?  What message does that send to the young women of this country?  It's hard not to feel deeply angry and upset that we have our first female presidential nominee, and that her gender numbers are so disparate that she could lose because traditionally Democratic males won't back her, even when she should theoretically be enjoying even better numbers than those of her husband or former boss.

And the reason for this is that more than ever before, this is an election where there is a difference between the two nominees.  Donald Trump is the least experienced candidate we've had on a major ticket in over 70 years.  He's a boorish, racist, xenophobic, sexist conspiracy theorist who has no grasp on either foreign or domestic policy who can only speak in cliches on the stump, changes his mind more repeatedly than a second grader, spends most of his campaign calling people belittling nicknames and has made petrifying claims about nuclear policy and America's interactions with our allies.  Quite frankly, electing him would be a way to gamble, needlessly, on America's standing in the world and on the future of the planet.  It would be stupid, point blank stupid.  On the opposite side sits Hillary Clinton, who has more experience than any non-incumbent presidential candidate since George HW Bush, who has a deep grasp on foreign policy, a specific vision for the country, enough understanding to realize that she will have won in part because her Republican opponent is Trump (so expect more reaching across the aisle than necessary), and is widely-respected by our allies abroad.  Plus, the presidency is only a four-year term, despite what people who are younger may realize.  Incumbent presidents can lose (if you don't believe me I suspect Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush have some stories for you), and in 2020 if you're a moderate who is still upset with Hillary Clinton, you'll be more than able to send her and history a message.  But don't let a vague sense of hatred for Hillary Clinton, or an idiot's reasoning in terms of "they're both bad" cause you from realizing that, on literally every level, Hillary Clinton is a better candidate for president than Donald Trump.  There is no question here, and if you don't think so and claim to be a moderate, independent, or progressive, it's time to look in the mirror.

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