I’ll admit it. I’ve been pretty lazy in my criticism of Secretary Clinton. I find her opponent so personally objectionable that I haven’t been able to focus enough of my outrage and disgust on much else. It’s not that I’m enamored with her candidacy. I’ve even gone so far to state that I think Gary Johnson-Libertarian-is the best candidate in the field. But I’ve also been pretty clear that I think she’s better than Donald Trump. And in doing so, I’ve done that thing that I hate that Trump supporters do. They site Hillary as their reason for supporting Donald. I don’t accept that response when I get it from them. But I’m more than willing to give it back. So I owe the political universe an explanation. And I’m here to pay up. So here goes.
It starts with question that my wife asked me.
“Why do people call Hillary Clinton a murderer? And a rapist? And a criminal?”
It’s a fair question, I think, for the potential leader of the free world. People do call her those things. There’s a pretty loud, vocal group that call her a murderer, or a rapist or a criminal-regularly. We don’t usually call people running for president those things in America. So something’s different here. Instead of dismissing them as crazy misogynists though-a lot of them are actually women-I’ve tried to see the game from their seat, in an attempt to give voice to their concerns, perhaps more rationally than they seem to be able to on their own. In order to know the true value of a candidate, after all, you have to be willing to know the value of their shortcomings too.
So how about those claims. The ones like the ones you’ll see scattered about this article from posts on my site’s Facebook page. The truth about those claims is pretty obvious. In a literal sense, those specific accusations are baseless. People dying as a result of your decisions while leading functions of government is not murder. Murder is murder. Your husband being a serial philanderer is not the same as you being a rapist. Your husband being a rapist is not the same as you being a rapist. Defending a rapist as a court appointed public defender is not the same as being a rapist. Only raping someone makes you a rapist. Only murdering someone makes you a murderer. So, hopefully we’ve gotten the first two cleared up without much argument.
As far as the criminal accusations, this is what the facts say. She’s 68 years old and has been married to a man that was Governor of Arkansas or President of the United states since she was 31. Under the scrutiny that comes with that, she has never been convicted of a crime. She’s never been indicted. She’s never been charged with a crime. She’s never been arrested. There’s been plenty of investigations-we’ll get to that-but she’s not a criminal. Not by any literal measure of the word.
Now, I understand that I’m being purposely obtuse here and using literal definitions to judge the accuracy of the claims against her. But I’m doing it for a reason. Because those are defined terms. And she gets called them a lot. And they’re not true. I could stop there and dismiss them all as nuts. End of article, balloon drop, celebration. But I can’t. Because there’s just too much of it to ignore. So I’ve got to go a little further.
Stated again for posterity, Hillary Clinton is not a murderer, a rapist or a criminal. But that fact doesn’t really address the more interesting question that was asked. Why do people think that it’s acceptable to publicly call her those things, when she is not? That answer is a little more complicated and much more telling about the true problems of a potential Hillary Clinton presidency.
One thing is clear to me by now though. When it comes to swaying the opinion of people who don’t already hate her, Secretary Clinton’s opponents tend to overplay their hand. They do it because of the ease at which they can use it to fire up their base. Unfortunately for them, in doing so, they’ve missed material opportunities to point out why she actually could be considered unfit to be our next president. There are ways to do that without sounding like a bunch of crazy people to the rest of us though. The rest of us need real things-not made up exaggerated or offensive ones. So I’m going to give them some help. Because those who haven’t decided yet, but are rationale and understand that she’s not a murderer, a rapist or a convicted or even soon to be tried felon, are left with few actual criticisms. Which isn’t accurate either. So I’ll give you one of my own.
Electing Hillary Clinton will be bad for America.
Damning enough? It’s certainly vague enough. So we’ll need to unpack all that goes into that statement. But first, we need to understand why it is that some people hate her so much. And I won’t use the easy button either-the fact that she’s a strong progressive woman, and people don’t like that. I’ve seen too many women saying horrible things about her to assign the motivation to that. There’s more to it. And it becomes pretty obvious once you force yourself to get past the noise.
Unlike the Republican nomination process for the 2016 cycle, which could best be described as democracy gone mad, Hillary Clinton’s nomination and potential presidency, is the opposite. Not that it’s not crazy-for some it clearly is. It just doesn’t feel particularly democratic. And it didn’t start with the hacked emails revealing Democratic Party preference for her over Senator Sanders. It didn’t start with the silly super delegate process. It didn’t start with anything that happened in the 2016 election. Or even the 2008 election. It started much earlier-about the time that her husband was elected president.
In America, there’s a pretty clear path for how things work when it comes to ascending to the top of the power and influence game in politics. One gains some level of local success and then becomes “eligible” to start thinking about running for national office. Senators, congressmen, governors-that’s where we get our presidents. From time to time, we can pull one straight from the military, but frankly that doesn’t really happen often-twice in the last 150 years. Once elected, you sink or swim, though these days we tend to keep presidents for two terms irrespective of performance. So maybe float or swim is a more appropriate description.
When you’re done, you ride off into the sunset to use your massive power and influence for a good cause-and also to get rich-if you’re not already. You spend a few decades doing that, and maybe providing sound bites for the media from time to time or out on the campaign trail for an old ally. And then you die and become a library. That’s how it works. That’s the American political dream.
Except that’s not what happened with the Clintons. The first part did. But then things got different. President Clinton left office over a decade before he was eligible to collect social security and started to do his part-peddling power and influence for a cause and for personal income. Neither one, by the way, should be anything any of us have much of a problem with. That’s how it’s supposed to work. It’s harmless and it’s how we attract anyone worth doing the job to a life of permanent captivity. But, for the Clintons, something fairly unusual happened next. And by fairly unusual, I mean, never before in the history of our country. The First Lady decided it was her turn.
The path to political Valhalla begins to wobble a bit when one of the participants decides to enter back into government after ascending to the height of it. That mountain doesn’t really feel like much of a mountain any more. It starts to feel like more of an on ramp. It starts to feel, well, undemocratic. Because power in the political sphere is really just access. When you leave the oval office that access doesn’t evaporate. It just becomes used for mostly harmless or benevolent causes. But when it gets thrown back into the political fray, subconscious alarm bells start to go off in our democratic DNA.
Now, I’ve never really been able to muster up the kind of disdain that I see Hillary Clinton’s true detractors bathe in. I can probably chalk that up to the fact that, politically, we are fairly close on our principles. I’m a centrist. She’s moderate progressive. So for me, this isn’t that hard to accept. And I’m probably unfairly excited about the prospect of a woman president. There’s a little of that in there too.
Imagine if you were not like me though, as many people aren’t. And that you didn’t support her much warmer, dynamic, communicator of a husband. And you didn’t vote for her in New York, because you’re not from New York. And you didn’t vote for the man who appointed her Secretary of State. Imagine if you had no interest in supporting her at all because of her politics. For you, Hillary Clinton seems to have happened to you instead of for you. For you, there’s a word that I think is appropriate and unique to Secretary Clinton’s rise to the nomination:
Inevitable is an undemocratic word.
And when your candidacy feels undemocratic in America, you’re going to make staunch enemies of those people that don’t agree with your politics. And when you make staunch enemies, you need to live exceptionally clean-professionally and personally. Just ask the current president about that. He’s been exceptionally clean. And people still call him a Muslim terrorist on my website regularly. And though she’s not a killer, a rapist or a murderer, Secretary Clinton has not been clean-in ways that frankly, weren’t that hard to avoid. In ways that would lead you to believe that she too, thought this was inevitable. That she had appointed herself.
That’s the way that it looks, if you’re not a fan. Now you can see where some of the frustration starts to ooze out of conservative middle America. It’s real. And it’s not wrong, even if their methods of expressing are.
I cannot begin to express to you just how much of a departure from the norm running a department of the United States government and sending emails to people that come from an address that does not end in .gov is. That probably sounds trivial to outsiders. But to insiders, they know exactly what I mean. It’s bizarre. And not something that you would assume would be happening for a good reason. I also cannot begin to express the gaping credibility gap that anyone else would have been forced to acknowledge if they were serving as Secretary of State while their spouse was leading a foundation receiving millions of dollars from foreign entities. Both of those things happened on the road to her nomination. And there’s been enough noise over forty years in the public eye previously to lead you to believe this is a pattern. Living exceptionally clean means that you did none or very little of that. And if you did, at a minimum you would be expected to be honest and forthright in your explanations. She was neither.
Those are the things that look and feel really dirty. And if they’re not actually dirty, then man, she just doesn’t give a rip at all what you think. Because she’s inevitable.
Get it yet?
I’ll take a second to point out that I didn’t include Benghazi in that critique. That’s on purpose. The Benghazi attack is one of those spots where the opposition overplayed their hand. I know we lost four people there. And that’s tragic. We lost 36 in a day in Iraq. And about 40,000 more were killed or wounded. There’s cemetery plots full of them out here in San Diego. I served there with a bunch of them. And we elected the administration responsible for that for a second term. If -W- were running today, you’d nominate him again.
The investigation for the Benghazi attacks went on for 815 days-longer than the investigation into the Kennedy assassination, longer than the investigation of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, longer than the investigation into the response to hurricane Katrina. And they’ve largely found that the deaths of those four Americans were avoidable. And that there were multiple failures of government by multiple agencies. And it cost us four great Americans. If that makes her a murderer though, I probably need to turn myself in too. And so do a whole lot of other folks because there’s a war going on.
If we want to broaden the criticism to foreign policy at large, specifically in the Middle East, and we wanted to be honest about it, we’d better be prepared to spread that blame to every western leader since Winston Churchill discovered Iraq by drawing the boarder between it and Syria in the wrong place in 1921. So let’s move past both. There’s real stuff here. Black and white, inarguable deficiencies, not rhetoric and hyperbole.
Here’s the unfortunate truth. We are in a period of troubling division in our great country. And we desperately need a leader that will unify us. Unfortunately for her, and us really, Secretary Clinton has given her opponents such a strong case for mistrust and suspicion, that it’s not likely any unification of purpose, spirit or function will be possible while she serves as the head of government. And it’s too bad. Because it didn’t have to be this way. She’s led a life of service. And is smart enough and tough enough to do it. She just couldn’t stay clean enough-intended or not.
That’s why electing Hillary Clinton will be bad for America.
So go ahead and ignore what the nuts are saying. But don’t ignore why they’re saying it. Their frustration is real and warranted. But their claims usually aren’t. And we need to be very honest about what we’re about to get into if we elect her.
I can see it now as if it already happened. Mostly because it just did. Four years of nothing getting done. Four years, minimum, of ham handed legislators getting their base horny by telling Hillary to shove it. Four years minimum, of giving voice to the crazy people that wrote those fun manifestos of stupid hate woven into this article. Four years of old cooky white guys calling her KILLERY. Good stuff. Get ready for all of that. When you get right down to it, through the noise, through the overplayed hands of opposition, the real problem we’re going to have if we elect Hillary Clinton is a continuation or even a progression of the division we have now. But I’ll say this. The only candidate that solves that problem better, is Gary Johnson. Donald Trump is no remedy. Not by a long shot.
Johnson’s at 10% of the vote now. And we’re about 100 days out. For those of you that haven’t decided, you’re going to have to decide if it’s Hillary division or Trump division. It begs the question.What’s better? A life of service with clear failures of judgment and transparency. Or a life suspiciously devoid of service or sacrifice with clear failures of judgment and character brought to power by a nationalist movement with an undercurrent of authoritarianism or hate. I know which bad outcome scares me most. Maybe that’s just because I’ve seen this go wrong in other places up close.
Learning to serve and sacrifice isn’t easy when you’ve never done it. Then again, learning to be forthright and transparent isn’t that easy either. But there’s one clear thing that the two conventions showed me about our two front-running candidates that I found extremely helpful at determining who absolutely could not be president. Whatever their motivations may be, whatever level of trust you have in them, you can perhaps try to find some guidance in the words they actually say-true false or otherwise.
Whether or not you believe that they believe their own words is entirely up to you. But the words a candidate chooses to say are the words that candidate believes stir the heart of the people they seek to serve. Some choose fear and suspicion. Others choose hope, togetherness and inclusion. I know what stirs my heart. And so I know what voice I’m willing to follow. And what voice I never will. You’ll have to decide for yourself what moves you.
But remember, if you can’t get this right, it’s important, not to get it too wrong.