The Unfavorable Precedent: WikiLeaks, post-Internet Democracy and Political Participation.
UPDATE (11–10–2016): This was mostly about Clinton. I was duped by my professors, pundits and polls saying she’d win. I made some updates, but it already included Trump in some places. Much of it applies to both candidates.
Here, I address two questions:
1) If Hillary enjoys elite privileges in the election and by federal law enforcement, then how might that reflect in a Clinton Administration?
2) How can (or do) netizens keep this behavior in check?
It is understandably exciting that HRC may become the first female US President. She is already first to come so far in a U.S. election. However, she and her opponent are notoriously unfavorable candidates. As I’ve said before, irrespective of her gender, HRC as first female President would be like drinking lemonade when you were expecting tea.
Before, I’d have much preferred Elizabeth Warren. After Bernie’s “revolution,” I dream of a Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Administration to set this historic precedent. I personally vote people (and their integrity, honesty) over parties or ideologies.
Electing Hillary’s (or Trump’s) faults does not spell an end for America. I argue that it would be (as it has been) both challenging and demanding for the public to monitor and keep a Clinton (or Trump) Administration in check. Monitoring has not been so thorough under the Obama Administration, or for Bush before him. But it is not impossible. Ultimately, HRC (or Trump) as president may increase political participation and public awareness of the President’s actions. The public’s many concerns about the candidates’ faults will likely persist beyond the election and force people to participate and pay attention.
Hillary is a top-tier elite. (As in Elite Theory, not conspiracy. The last four Presidents had Ivy League educations and were wealthy elites.) As such, she the Justice Department has treated her favorably despite scrutiny by the public, Congress and NGOs.
In reality, in directing the Justice Dept. President Barack Obama has exercised Executive Discretion under the Second Amendment, the “Take Care Clause.” This has standing legal precedent (PDF, 453 kb):
In situations where an agency refrains from bringing an enforcement action, courts have historically been cautious in reviewing the agency determination — generally holding that these nonenforcement decisions are “committed to agency discretion” and therefore not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act. The seminal case on this topic is Heckler v. Chaney, in which the Supreme Court held that an “agency’s decision not to take enforcement action should be presumed immune from judicial review.”
The non-partisan Judicial Watch found that the Justice Dept. did not adequately investigate Clinton for her private email server. This is moot, assuming “refraining from bringing enforcement action” is akin to minimal investigation efforts, as Judicial Watch suggests. Which, again, this all is irrelevant, given legal precedent. Yet, the Justice Dept’s handling sets a more disconcerting precedent. If Hillary’s elite status excludes her from the rule-of-law — if overt “corruption” is the new norm — how might that reflect in her own Administration?
Yet, the Justice Dept’s handling sets a more disconcerting precedent. If Hillary’s elite status excludes her from the rule-of-law — if overt “corruption” is the new norm — how might that reflect in her own Administration?
UPDATE: Given the recent trove of “Hillary’s Weiner Emails,” it’s interesting to see how the Justice Dept. proceeds just days before the election and under immense public scrutiny.
Can we expect Wall Street to be regulated and held accountable? Hillary’s front-stage-back-stage statement is typical in the social sciences. No doubt Trump conducts business similarly. Politically, it is a cause for concern. The President has privileged access to all workings of government: regulation, the private and public sectors, government contracts, etc. Dick Cheney and the Halliburton Loophole is an example of how even VP access can serve personal interests. Here, Mike Pence is a worrisome prospect.
Will energy policy commit to Green Energy despite the oil and gas interests? (Interests that already heavily influence Congress.) Despite her rhetoric, like Cheney, Clinton supports fracking. More recently, many of her largest donors fund the Dakota Access Pipeline, on which she has yet to take a stance. (Well, kind of.) Trump and Pence have denied Global Warming. Yet, Trump has supported an all-of-the-above energy policy.
How might these trends impact or be impacted by whoever attains highest office? This, especially given the past conflicts-of-interest between Hillary’s State Dept and donors. There are talks that the Clinton Foundation will distance itself from politics. But, more generally, what are the implications of the above concerns on the public’s best interest?
These are all rhetorical questions I am anxious to observe if she is elected. WikiLeaks has given the public a more complete picture of the inner-workings of the Democratic Party (both in office and during elections.) However, this picture portrays a challenging future for America. Namely, if or when Hillary is elected it will require diligence and the attention of thousands of global citizens to monitor and keep the status quo in check. (Again, this likely applies just as much to Trump. However, he is not a politician an can only be evaluated by his platform and not voting record.)
From Bernie to #PodestaEmails: Citizens Are Paying Attention (as best they can.)
Despite corporate media bias; and despite presumably willful media “brown outs” (not really blackouts, as media often seems willing to at least mention unfavorable topics) the online public has committed to retweeting, reposting and propagating #WikiLeaks, #DNCLeak, #Guccifer and now #PodestaEmails for maximum global reach.
During the Primaries, Bernie Sanders mobilized millennials who meticulously spotted media bias and reported on social media despite lackluster media coverage. For example, delayed media reporting when Sanders swept Hawaii and the Northwest states and DNC protests. Attentive voters used social media to disrupt caucuses. They challenge the fairness of a Superdelegate system, which some called a coup. All of which the #DNCLeak has validated as unfair hurdles to the Sanders campaign and challenging fair elections overall.
In short, netizens are not allowing politicians or special interests a free pass on their faults.
Cell phones recorded Hillary’s 9/11 memorial collapse. She was recorded confronting vocal #BlackLivesMatter activists concerned about mass-incarceration.
Grassroots journalists, commentators (some as comedians) and nonpartisan organizations have made connections between Clinton donors and the Dakota Access Pipeline wherein journalists, peaceful protesters and documentarians have been arrested and charged with rioting. Reports and leaks allege a closed-door pro-fracking position that differs from the Democratic Party’s public platform.
Such public diligence and attention is necessary to monitor a status quo that has come to allow corruption and conflicts of interest. The above are examples of civic engagement in the face of perceived political inefficacy — or, in other words, people getting involved when their voices aren’t heard. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are symptoms of this — and it’s only going to intensify.
This newfound political engagement is boiling over outside the election. For example, consider the DEA’s unprecedented reversal from scheduling Kratom. This move followed massive online discontent and a Change.org petition.
I do not intend to condemn Hillary Clinton. I’ve come to accept (rather bitterly) that these might have been the political norms and behaviors of elected elites for many decades now. (At least as far back as Nixon’s pardoning. I recommend Kellner’s book. And here is a great synopsis.) Rather, I wish to show how the Internet is interacting and responding to very unusual and troubling sociopolitical conditions.
So, what now?
The true test for all mentioned here is the end of the election. Every four years Americans are ensnared by the Presidential election spectacle, after which time they quietly return to apolitical business-as-usual. Just look at the 2014 midterm turnout figures, the lowest in 70-years. I’ve written before that people are angry. Many feel cheated. As of #PodestaEmails, especially, they feel the system was rigged. No matter the outcome, the elected candidate will be extremely unfavorable (reaching unprecedented lows) and across party lines.
It isn’t distrust alone; America is founded on a Lockean distrust tracing back to the Boston Tea Party. This is something more, a bitterness and slight loss of faith in our government institutions I wrote about before. If Americans can hold onto it and keep interested and actively engaged, especially as corporate media is replaced with decentralized online social media, then we might be facing a new democratic revolution like we would have never anticipated even four years ago.
Note: This piece was a draft from 2 weeks before the FBI discovered an additional 650k emails on Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Since then, the candidates’ unfavorabiltiy ratings have arguably re-balanced. The #DAPL controversy has also intensified. IMO, the assessments here are even more relevant to observing how the FBI handles the case.
About the author: My name is Teddy. I am soon to graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.S. in Political Science and minor in English. This blog is my playground to contemplate my not-necessarily-scholarly ideas extemporaneously. If you liked it then please give it a retweet, reblog or comment with your thoughts. I’m @teddyspaghetti on Twitter, also.