Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Why the Media Fight Against Hillary Clinton isn't Fair

It's become apparent at this point, particularly with the CNN poll out today, that Donald Trump has started to close the gap in terms of the national popular vote.  While I question a poll, that, say, doesn't count anyone under the age of 34 (I promise you, some Millennials will be voting in November), I also don't like to be one of those people who dismisses polls simply because the science behind them seems wrong, particularly one from an organization like CNN.  People who spend most of the election dismissing the results of polling also spend most of Election Night shocked they ended up losing.  For every Heidi Heitkamp situation, there's dozens of other cases where the person who was in the lead headed into Election Night ended up winning.  The reality is that Clinton losing in polls should be concerning.

I may be contradicting myself a bit, so I will point out that I still don't see Donald Trump winning.  This is one poll, after dozens of polls, both on a state level and on a national level, have shown Hillary Clinton in the lead.  NBC News has her up by six points, and a (bizarre, but whatever) series of state-by-state polls from the Washington Post show her in an extremely strong position.  So I'm going to point out that rather than be worried right now she's going to be losing, I'm worried about something tangentially related and frustrated over the media depiction of Hillary Clinton, which has entered an era of stupidity that I can't recall ever seeing from national media organizations.

Let's start with the worry, and that is around complacency.  I'm not talking, necessarily, about Hillary Clinton, but about close elections in general.  Every single year, we see a couple of House and Senate elections that are decided by the margins, where clearly the number of people who "didn't have time to vote that day" made the difference.  I'm not talking about one, specific person making a difference, but the entire idea around "I can't make a difference" voters who skip out on an election because they're busy and can't be bothered.

In 2014, for example, only 161 votes separated Martha McSally from Rep. Ron Barber.  As a result of just 162 people who might have gone for Barber, but didn't because they couldn't be bothered to get out or because they thought their vote didn't matter, the Democrats didn't have another congressman headed to their arsenal in 2016.  Every election cycle has a race like this-sometimes it's a gubernatorial election (Washington in 2004), a Senate race (Minnesota in 2008), or even, yes, a presidential election (Florida in 2000), but every year there are races that were decided by Democrats and whether they pushed hard enough on the campaign trail to turn out every single vote.

The problem here, of course, is you don't know which races were the closest in the country until you actually count the votes.  If you'd told me in 2008 that Al Franken would be stuck in a recount that would go on months before he'd actually taken his seat, I'd have laughed at you-the entire idea would be preposterous.  The same could be said for Florida in 2000-no one knew that Al Gore, had he just turned out another thousand people in Miami, would have been able to prevent the Iraq War and enact climate change legislation that would have helped the planet in incalculable ways.  The reality is that when you're pushing, volunteering, goading relatives, and raising money, you don't know which race is going to be the one that matters.  But I promise you, there will be a race this year where turnout, and the volunteers will matter.

This is why it's so important to stay vigilant, and push your relatives, friends, neighbors, and yes (through volunteer work) even strangers to get out the vote.  The election isn't decided, and it won't be until November.  Some state or district may indeed end up being decided by those who said "their vote didn't matter," and it could well be your state or district that shapes whether a senator who will cast the deciding vote on gun control or a congressman who enacts an infrastructure bill that gives your loved one a job or, yes, a president who signs into law an environmental law, will be able to do so.  And the dirty secret is this-whether someone wins by 1 vote or 1 million, they get the same amount of power in Congress or the White House.  So make your voice heard, regardless of how "safe" an election is.

The other half of this, that I have to address because it's royally starting to tick me off is this: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not the same.  The reality is that Trump is so much worse than Clinton in rhetoric and action that it's gotten to the point where I can't tell what the hell the media wants out of this woman.  Forget the email scandal, which ended up being something that was not able to be charged by an FBI Director who clearly wished he could charge something (you don't get that angry during a press conference if you didn't have some ill will toward Clinton).  Let's take the Clinton Foundation and the "scandal" involved there, including a false AP story and Trump's rantings being the only real evidence that the Clinton Foundation, which has done enormous good for the world, has ever been anything other than charitable organization.  Compare that to Trump, who has frequently lied about charitable donations (and here I have actual facts to back me up), and has shown little interest in making the world a better place than for anyone but himself and his family.  And that's not even in the Top 50 worst things Trump has done in the past three months.

The reality is that in a rush to make this race a close election, the media has done that because they have tried to equalize Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, but nothing Hillary Clinton has ever done, even on her worse day, is as bad as attacking a gold star mother, encouraging a foreign power to hack a political opponent, disregarding NATO, encouraging more foreign powers to have nuclear bombs, refusing to rule out a nuclear attack against Europe, calling Mexican immigrants "rapists and murderers," attacking a sitting federal judge, publicly admonishing a female journalist for grilling him on the issues because she's having her period, mocking a disabled journalist, hiring a series of abusers and sexual predators to your campaign, or insinuating that women who have abortions should be punished.  Trump is a horrible, horrible man, and nothing Hillary Clinton's ever done will come close to his laundry list.

You say that Hillary Clinton "seems sketchy" or "doesn't show enough charisma/personality?"  Really?  Because you know who does show personality and charisma-Donald Trump, the guy the same people proclaim to loathe in the same breadth.  The man is very open about his interests and likes, and yet he is also a heinous, horrible human being.  I'd take someone who's a little more reserved over that any day of the week.  Yes, she's slightly reluctant to talk to the press, but you would be too after everything from an offhand comment about Tammy Wynette to Vince Foster to Monica Lewinsky to Benghazi to the Clinton Foundation has been attacked to the point of ridiculousness and proclaimed legitimate despite only tacit connections to Hillary Clinton in some cases, and no evidence of her having committed any wrongdoing in any of these "scandals."

Hillary Clinton is cautious, deliberate, caring, reserved, Type A, ambitious, wonkish, practical, and tough.  This is her personality, and about all you can get out of any politician that isn't Jed Bartlett, who is someone you get to see the inner-workings of unlike most politicians and is, more importantly, fictional.  You don't get more than this from Barack Obama, George Bush, Mitt Romney, or Bill Clinton.  If you can't handle the fact that this is Hillary Clinton, and that you don't want to blame it on either an irrational dislike of the woman or don't agree with her politics, that's fine, but don't blame her for that.  That's on the media and the voters-she's laid out her vision and her goals.  If you like them, vote for her.  But don't pretend its because she hasn't given you a piece of information that you're withholding your support.  Because we know what she's going to be like as president, and we know what Trump will be like.  If you can't see the difference (whether you be the media or a casual voter), then that's your issue, and you get the ugliness that comes with it.

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