Was It Worth It?

Was It Worth It?

How Hillary Clinton & Co. ruined her presidential chances
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I get that Hillary Clinton did not have an especially easy quarter-century in national politics. At her rise to prominence as Bill Clinton’s wife and then First Lady, she drew heaps of undeserved scorn. The early round of sexist marks would linger; I strongly suspect that she faced more difficulty than would any male politician with an equivalent history. Some of my right-winger Facebook friends would, I became convinced, unhesitatingly believe and breathlessly share any negative claim about Clinton, to a degree I’ve never seen or even imagined happening to a male politician. (Perhaps I barely missed noticing the corners of right-wing fantasy wherein she’s an active cannibal. I don’t want to go look.) I honestly believe that, at heart, Clinton has never really ceased to be the do-gooder Methodist girl she was in her youth.

More, Clinton was not oblivious or wholly unsympathetic to the downscale voters who put Donald Trump over her in crucial states. Clinton’s comment about some people within Trump’s “basket of deplorables” being “irredeemable” really was vicious, and Trump wasn’t wrong to say that it indicated “tremendous hate in her heart.” Yet in that same speech she spoke sympathetically of another “basket”:

… that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if President Hillary would’ve in fact proven better for these voters’ material interests than President Trump will. She and Tim Kaine promoted a set of policies supposedly aimed at addressing their material welfare, and certainly she has at least a much better history of keeping her word than Trump has. (Which, I know, is not a huge achievement.)

I also get that Hillary was, in a certain sense, one of the most highly-qualified nominees to ever run for president. Between eight years as first lady, eight years as a U.S. senator, and four years as U.S. Secretary of State, she assembled a truly impressive résumé.

I believe every word of the sympathetic portrait I’ve just drawn of Clinton. But I’ve been frustrated, especially in the last week or so, by the insistence of many friends that this is an essentially complete portrait of Clinton, and that anyone not persuaded by such facts to choose her over Donald Trump is obviously a total bigot.

I mentioned at this piece’s beginning that in the 1990s Clinton drew a huge amount of scorn that she didn’t deserve. Yet look at her through this question: what hasn’t she done to earn a huge deal of distrust and even disdain in the last 16 years?

We might as well start with those damn emails. I’m not particularly interested in the endless litigation and re-litigation of exactly what happened with all of the emails and what was in them and what it all meant. I am interested in just how long it took Clinton to admit that she’d made a mistake in keeping a private server. And I am interested in things like how, after the FBI declined to indict her, Clinton tried in an interview with Chris Wallace to put over a hilariously disingenuous characterization of her actions. The overwhelming impression left by Clinton’s conduct is that she admits fault only when she feels forced to by political expedience, that she’s eager to gloss over her misdeeds as much as possible, and that she’s annoyed by the idea of regulation placing any check on her convenience and ambition.

And what else has Clinton done when left to her own devices? She, more than nearly anyone else, is responsible for the flaming mess that the Middle East has become: she not only voted for the invasion of Iraq but, further, almost a decade later, authored and executed a similarly disastrous regime-change operation in Libya. Even after losing the 2008 Democratic primary to Barack Obama in part because of her vote for the invasion of Iraq, she has remained a totally unreflective member of what Ben Rhodes has called “the Blob”: the Washington foreign-policy establishment, which always hungers to meddle somewhere new and presses to flat-handedly remake the world through U.S. military operations. Though Clinton’s strategy in Libya cost far fewer American lives than George W. Bush’s wars, the ensuing rise of ISIS and the unending drain of American imperialism have only made life more anxious and wearying for Americans.

Left to her own devices, Clinton drew extravagant fees for making speeches to some of the most odious businesses in American life. Then, in the face of Bernie Sanders’ criticism, Clinton and her campaign cooked up a fantastically bad rationale – that for some reason the Republican candidates should release all of their speech-transcripts before she ought to release any of hers – so as to keep Americans in the dark. And along these same lines consider the Clinton Foundation, doubtless a target of many excessive attacks, but still reeking of scandal and grift in totally unnecessary ways.

Even as Hillary Clinton became almost singularly qualified in terms of governmental résumé, she almost singularly unqualified herself to the mass of ordinary Americans, and in ways that were plenty clear and perfectly comprehensible. I understand why many supported her even in the Democratic primary: perhaps they were so inspired by the prospect of her symbolic nomination that they assumed that an adequate majority of Americans would share their view and vote Clinton into the White House. I’m sure that many were genuinely duped into thinking that Clinton’s lukewarm pragmatism would somehow win over the American electorate better than Bernie Sanders’ fiery idealism could.

But in light of Clinton’s loss to Trump and the U.S. government going overwhelmingly into Republican hands, everyone the political left must ask, and then answer honestly: was it worth it? Was it worth nominating a first major-party female candidate only to watch her sink beneath the weight of her needless scandals and lose to an overgrown toddler? Was writing off the working class worth the returns in high-gloss celebrity tripe like Lena Dunham’s pantsuit rap?

Of course not. In this season of Democratic autopsy, may we feel the full sting of that, and may we happily take after Matt Christman in merrily slinging “retire bitch” at every party-hack who could perfectly well have foreseen Trump’s victory and instead spent their time on idiot propaganda. But not everyone who preferred Clinton to Sanders is such a hack, and in order to offer meaningful political resistance to the new right-wing regime, we need the glad help of everyone, from Clinton's innocent dupes to self-righteous Sanders-ites like myself. As we reflect on how un-worthwhile Clinton’s candidacy was, may we band together toward worthwhile politics.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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