A lot of progressive friends of mine have been getting on the Clinton-hate Bandwagon lately.
This is disturbing to me, because the alternative is Donald Trump. A Twitter user put it quite nicely when he explained:
One rejoinder from a friend of mine though was that Trump is expensive bleach, where Clinton is ‘Coles brand bleach’. Maybe he was being ironic, at this point I can’t tell — but seriously. Is anyone actually arguing that Clinton is worse than Trump?
Because if they are, they are genuinely an idiot.
Jane Caro put it perfectly when she argued that there was going to be a backlash against Clinton, driven likely by subconscious hatred of women. She explains:
We will be told she is (among many other things) a warmonger, corrupt, in the pocket of Wall Street, a war criminal, weak, vacillating, a homophobe, a creature of the establishment, about to be indicted by the FBI (no, really, any minute now) and a candidate who “stands for nothing”. We will even be told she just represents “more of the same”. All this will be said without a scintilla of irony.
This backlash didn’t start after her nomination, it has been happening for about a year now since Bernie Sanders’ campaign ramped up. It’s been driven in no small part by Sanders himself, whose savaging of Clinton during the primary process has upped the rage in his supporters.
The ugly side of the ‘progressive’ Left comes out at those moments where a figurehead is given a moment in the sun. When there is a taste of revolution, people who should be more disposed towards measured argument and understanding suddenly lose sight of the bigger picture, and everyone who isn’t with them becomes an enemy.
Rational incrementalism, the slow march of progress through age-old institutions, has been the longest-lasting and most effective means of achieving social justice. It’s not ideal, sure, but we don’t live in a world that is perfect.
Democracies are complex beasts, with competing viewpoints and tensions. Yes, I agree, solid minimum wages, free healthcare and education for all, serious and rapid action on climate change are first order issues. Economic inequality is a social poison that needs to be resolved, because it isn’t just bad for poor people, it is bad for society itself. There are a raft of studies that argue the same, but I point particularly to Wilkinson & Pickett’s (2010) The Spirit Level, or Göran Therborn’s (2013) The Killing Fields of Inequality.
But I digress.
Sanders supporters have become more and more vitriolic towards Clinton as the primaries progressed. About two months ago, the #NeverHillary movement emerged. Sanders supporters vowed that if Clinton won, they would not vote for her even if that meant Trump took the White House.
People then began arguing that “Clinton is just as bad as Trump”, and one progressive friend of mine even argued “I think she might even be worse”. Leave aside the individuals, and stop and think for a second:
Trump is regarded as too extreme by many Republicans.
The Republican party is an insane organisation filled with climate deniers, flat-earthers, creationists and hard-right, gun-toting, anti-choice bigots.
Any Democratic president is automatically better than Trump, even someone as amoral as Frank Underwood, were he to be a contender. That’s actually the fascinating lesson underpinning House of Cards.
Against this, people are saying #NeverHillary?
Interestingly, I find a lot of the criticism directed at Clinton follows a similar pattern to that directed at Julia Gillard. And while I don’t doubt that when people criticise her for handling of certain issues, the ferocity and unforgivingness of it — and the tone of the criticism — must have a gendered component.
Here, people get off side. “I don’t hate her for her gender, I hate her for her policies”. That’s the same criticism that was sledged against Julia Gillard, a woman with whom Clinton shares a deep friendship and respect.
If there isn’t a gendered component, why does Clinton often get referred to as ‘Hillary’ in serious writing, where her opponents are Trump and Sanders? I acknowledge of course ‘The Donald’ and the ‘Bernie’/Feel The Bern palaver, but in genuinely analytical pieces by people critical of Clinton, you notice a recurring pattern.
Similarly, there are asinine videos from Conservative/Libertarian outlets that make points like this:
Or lame posts comparing Clinton to Thatcher (whose equivalent in US politics was Republican Ronald Reagan), simply because they are women.
And I haven’t even touched on the layer after layer of conspiracy theorising, that she’s rigged the election. That the press stacked it in her favour even though she hates the press and is intensely private. That Google, on request from the Clintons I assume, rigged the election — somehow that people who were searching for the phrase ‘Hillary Clinton indictment’ would stop searching if it didn’t show up in autocomplete?
I don’t often like invoking Occam’s Razor, because it can be a bit of a logical fallacy, but I think it is appropriate here.
What is more likely? That Clinton simply bested Sanders, as was predicted by countless independent polls, and scored three million more votes than him, or…
That Clinton found a way to rig a series of elections over six months, across the United States, in different jurisdictions, to the point where she created three million more votes, and then managed to also silence every major media outlet — including The Guardian and all foreign news bureaus — that got an inkling of this conspiracy.
Clinton won because she is reasonable, she appeals to Democrats, and she has been around politics and the American national consciousness for so long, that everyone knows her. She was campaigning for women’s rights in the public spotlight before I was born. That alone means she is a better candidate than a bigoted sexist like Donald Trump.
And if you disagree, as I’m sure many people do, consider this:
So if you are part of that #NeverHillary movement, and you’re putting shit on the only real alternative to Trump (and a woman who is unbelievably experienced in the messy, compromised and imperfect world of American politics), stop and think for a second:
How are you more of an expert than Obama and Warren?
Hot tip: you aren’t.
So stop giving the Conservatives what they have wanted for the past 30 years: a divided Left attacking its own candidate.
Bring on Madame President.