On Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
(NB: This is adapted from some Facebook comments and as such is pretty informal, but it was too long to post as a status update, so it’s here.)
There is a narrative being promoted on social media right now about how Clinton and Trump are both awful choices for president — a narrative that hinges on the premise that they are comparable in some way.
Donald Trump is an insane, “carnival barker,” childish clown with no integrity, experience or qualifications to lead anything, let alone the United States. I’ll let John Oliver explain why in the video below. But then I want to talk about Hillary.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about Clinton.
The main accusations against her fall into a couple of different categories. The first, which are too idiotic to address, are the conspiracy theories — her and Bill murder people and laundered drug-money. This is so idiotic that it isn’t worth addressing, and if you believe them — you are an idiot. Sorry. The second group is the people who just kind of… hate her. The reasons are usually that she is an unapologetic liar, inconsistent and beholden to corporate interests, and an unlikable condescending elitist. It is these ideas that I’d like to talk about.
Regarding her being a liar — the bipartisan, Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact rates about 28% of what she has said “Mostly False” or worse. For comparison, Obama has 26%, Sanders 31% (although to be fair, most of his flubs are not so much “false” but misstatements, e.g. “America works more than any other country” which lacks the qualifiers of like, Western, economically developed country.) On the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump has 79% “Mostly False” or worse. 79%! Rubio 42%, Cruz 67% and Kasich 32%. Romney had 42%. So objectively speaking — she isn’t a liar.
She is about as honest as the average Democrat the last 8 years, which is objectively far more honest than any Republican — in some cases by a long shot. If the charge is referring to the Benghazi debacle — Republican’s had their bloodthirsty hearings, and no wrong doing or cover up was found, despite their best efforts. The email situation is a bit more complex, but the reality is, despite the right wing lunacy, she still hasn’t knowingly broken any laws. And the reality is that past Secretaries of State also used private email — including Colin Powell, who kept no record of his emails afterward at all. So that seems like a non-starter unless someone is looking for reasons to go after her.
Regarding her inconsistency and/or pandering, her voting record and statements on issue is something readily available to review. One place that has this is votesmart.org — and on most issues her record speaks for itself. She has always been consistent on women’s health, gun control and immigration. She’s been consistently a little too hawkish regarding foreign policy for my taste, but her positions haven’t fluctuated drastically, and she’s been consistently moderate with regard to trade and labor. Her husband (but notably not Clinton herself) has a questionable record with crime and drug laws and their racial impacts, but her own record isn’t terribly problematic. She has moved quite a bit on LGBT rights — but so have most reasonable people. In the 60s, in college, she said she was in her heart a liberal but in her mind a conservative (I’d prefer she a liberal in both , heh) and — 50 years later — this still accurately describes her record and positions.
Again she looks best when compared to someone like Trump. While he has no record because he has no experience, his spoken positions have changed drastically from year to year. He was a Democrat now he’s a Republican, he was “very pro-choice” now he is pro-life, he supported single-payer healthcare now he doesn’t… and that is not to mention the crazy flip flops he has done in the last few months alone. Take the immigrants, keep them, send them away, send ground troops, don’t send ground troops, kill their families, climate change is real, climate change “goes up and down,” etc., etc., etc. Again, objectively, the two are just not comparable.
Her being elitist/condescending… I mean… she isn’t exactly likable. But who is? No one else running on either side the last few elections has been terribly likable. I will say that at least she came from a middle income family, went to public school, and has been politically involved and successful of her own merit and work — not from multi-million dollar inheritances. And she isn’t mocking Bernie Sanders as if she were a clown, throwing water bottles around and shit talking people on Twitter like a tween.
So I mean — I think she is a known entity. I think we DO know what we will get with her — social progressiveness, which is great, the status-quo economically, which, meh, but we are in a pretty great place right now (especially compared to when Obama took office) — and conservative-esque foreign policy — the prospect of which doesn’t thrill me. But it’s better than hunting down and killing the families of terrorists like her war-criminal advocating likely opponent wants.
I’ve tried to outline some objective facts about her here. And keep in mind, I #FeelTheBern, I don’t really prefer Clinton, but I’ll take her if we have to. And whatever is necessary to keep a crazy person (e.g. anyone on the right) out of office is critical. But we need to be fair to her and evaluate her for who she really is. If people want to still posit that she is a shitty lying panderer — they need to illuminate the specifics of why. E.g. not just “she’s inconsistent,” but rather “she’s inconsistent because of _____ votes in _____ and then _____ in _____.”
If not — aren’t we just buying the bullshit attack narrative the Republicans have been selling since the 1990s? And aren’t we smarter than that?