Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton Is Not The Lesser Of Two Evils

Of the most frustrating caricatures of Hillary Clinton, the idea that progressives should vote for her simply because she is the “lesser of two evils” is among the most disappointing (and inaccurate). The vast right-wing conspiracy has effectively portrayed her as Machiavelli in heels for more than 25 years, but anyone who has been watching, really watching the Democratic National Convention, much less taken the time to look into the work Hillary has done on behalf of others for the past 40 years, should know better.

During the DNC, I have been particularly struck by the testimonials provided by Anastasia Somoza and Ryan Moore, two Americans with disabilities. Each spoke of meeting Hillary as children and at events that many politicians simply use as photo ops to make them look good. But not Hillary. She befriended these young people whose struggles are far greater than most of us can imagine, not because it helped her politically, but because she cared. Hillary’s work to pass legislation to help children secure health care, traveling to poor areas to fight housing discrimination, and tireless advocacy for women’s rights are foursquare with progressive ideals that many of us share. 

Hillary does not have her husband’s natural political gifts or President Obama’s unparalleled ability to lift people through his words, but instead of lauding her for the strengths she possesses – of inclusion, collaboration, and yes, listening – the media focus invariably lands on the skills she does not have, not the ones she does. Make no mistake, this has been an editorial decision that dates back decades to when she had the temerity to defend her right to have a career and not be a homemaker and has carried on from one generation of reporters to the next, who lean into the idea that she is an insular paranoid distrusted by Americans. 

That she now has to “reintroduce” herself to a populace the media claims does not know the “real” Hillary is an indictment of their choices from 1991 to the present. Her biography has been out there for any reporter interested in learning it. Her speeches as First Lady show a woman who was well ahead of her time in advocating for causes that are now considered mainstream. Her time as Secretary of State is now chronicled in the release of more than 30,000 emails that show her granular level concern for everything from delivering clean water to tiny African villages to getting an Illinois small business’s gefilte fish delivered to Israel. 

For the media to portray a vote for Hillary as some sort of hold-your-nose moment for Democrats, Sanders supporters or anyone else insults her decades-long commitment to others. She is a hard-working woman who has spent the better part of her adult life advocating on behalf of many whose voices are rarely heard in our democracy. That her work has often been behind the scenes and she has not tried to brag about her accomplishments shows a humility and selflessness journalists claim they want in politicians but penalize them for showing. The person she is running against is a know-nothing charlatan who has spent much of his adult life using others for his personal gain. There are clear differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but the lesser of two evils is not one of them.

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  1. Just had to set someone straight on this on Facebook. She said they are both dangerous. Nope, not even close. And she said this knowing that she's voting for Trump! She's said it. Ugh.

  2. I'm one of those people who is really struggling with the idea of her being the lesser of two evils. Trump is an abomination, but the last straw for me was her hiring of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. While we are still getting the details about how deep the DNC scandal is, I think it's clear that DWS was involved in some pretty dramatic favoritism. The fact that Hillary hired her before the dust had settled gave a strong impression that Hillary didn't really care how the scandal shook out. She was willing to help her land on her feet, before even knowing the degree of guilt.

    I agree that the message from the right (and carried by the media) is an unfair portrayal, but how should I reconcile this in my head? I know I sound like a crazy Bernie supporter, but I was really excited about a candidate, and feel like power was taken from me by the DNC. It didn't look like he'd win regardless, but now we'll never really know how he would have done had it been an even playing field.

    Either way, the idea of a Trump win is horrifying, but giving up on my ideals feels pretty yucky as well. One is preferable to the other, but I have trouble NOT feeling like this is a choice between two bad candidates.

    1. Hillary may often display bad judgement, particularly when it comes to optics. But if you think there is a perfect politician out there, (including Bernie) you are mistaken. Every politician has things that can be criticized, but your criticism is pretty small scale in the scheme of things. In fact I don't even think it is anywhere near the most damning criticism you could level at Hillary.

    2. I'm curious to know how you think the DNC impacted the result of the primaries. Bernie spent $200 million (more than Hillary), the debates were viewed by millions (contra media reporting) and he had no negative advertising run against him while getting generally positive coverage from the press. I agree that some people in the DNC weren't acting impartially, but the most quoted emails were from May, when the race was basically over and it's not like Bernie's hands were entirely clean - his staffers did access voter information of the Clinton campaign.

      It's not my goal to litigate this aspect, instead, I would encourage you (unknown) to take a an objective look at Hillary's record on the issues that matter to you and then decide whether you can support her or not. I think the convention did a nice job of highlighting the decades-long record of accomplishment she has with regard to issues like health care, education, and women's rights.

    3. You're correct. Most of the emails appear to be from later in the campaign, when things were already on a track. That said, the DNC CEO and two high level staffers just resigned as well. Part of the issue is the question of whether this is everything. There were legitimate concerns early in the campaign as to whether the DNC was being impartial, and this legitimizes some of the concerns (The debate number and schedule for example). I don't see proof that any of the earlier concerns were well founded or not, but the current evidence that the DNC was not impartial lends credence to those concerns.

      You're correct, Bernie's hands WEREN'T entirely clean. His staffers accessed voter information. It's important to note the difference in response, however. He apologized, and fired the staffers. Compare that to Hillary's response, where she hired someone highly placed in the scandal.

      But I'm not here to debate Bernie as a better candidate. Hillary is well qualified, and a SIGNIFICANTLY better candidate than the alternative of Trump. Supporting her or not is something that people will wrestle with. What your article was saying is that this isn't a choice of the lesser of two evils. I'm saying that, as someone who feels betrayed by the DNC, watching Hillary hire someone at the center of the impartiality, and the cronyism that suggests, makes her very much the lesser of two evils. She is STILL a better candidate than Trump. She is STILL someone I will vote for over the alternative. Her record of accomplishment is great. But she IS the lesser of two evils, and people shouldn't be surprised that some of the voters who feel jilted are wrestling with that.

  3. "I know I sound like a crazy Bernie supporter, but I was really excited about a candidate, and feel like power was taken from me by the DNC. It didn't look like he'd win regardless, but now we'll never really know how he would have done had it been an even playing field."

    yes, you do sound like a crazy Bernie supporter. the email "scandal" was a couple of low level DNC employees dreaming up ways to beat Sanders, none of which was ever followed up on, by anyone. to this day, there is no substantive evidence of the DNC or DWS committing any concrete act that could be construed as favoring HRC, to the detriment of Sen. Sanders, none at all. that members of the DNC favored HRC is no great shock. after all, she, unlike Sanders, has tirelessly worked for the Democrat Party, for the past 30 years. during that time, she has made lots and lots of friends/connections, throughout the Democratic Party, while Sen. Sanders has made it a point, for that same time period, to ensure people knew he wasn't a Democrat. so why should the DNC favor him again?

  4. Wow. I thought I was being pretty sedate in my response, so this reply seems a little out of scope. I didn't bring up ANYTHING about favoring Bernie. I said that the information makes me feel like the primary was unfair, and that Clinton feeds in to this portrayal by hiring DWS before the dust has settled.

    You say scandal in quote marks as if it was an invented thing. A number of people have resigned already, and the details still haven't all come out. I'm not suggesting I know how awful it was either. It COULD turn out to be a lot of nothing, but it seems like there is at least some evidence.

    None of that has anything to do with my suggestion that her hiring DWS before all of this shook out implies that she's willing to reward someone without even knowing the degree of guilt.

    I'm not here to suggest that Hillary is unqualified, or inexperienced. She has a lot of great credentials, including her connections. I'm here to suggest that to a lot of people, myself included, the hiring of DWS seems like croneyism. That DOES make this a choice between the lesser of two evils.

    I'm realistic in that I KNOW that no candidate is perfect, but we can't pretend that Hillary isn't a disappointing choice for a lot of progressive democrats.

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