Politics is always a struggle. It’s a contest of ideas, of values, of personalities, relationships and working partnerships. It can be tough and it can be nasty. Sometimes there’s manipulation, unseen influences and dishonesty. That’s true on the right and (whether or not we want to admit it) on the left.
Hillary Clinton has been a political operator for many decades. Unsurprisingly she’s had to make tough decisions, some of them very unpopular and some of them pretty much the opposite of what I (from the relative privilege of an outsider’s view, as someone who doesn’t have to live with the immediate consequences of these decisions on my conscience) would like to believe I would make. She’s also (shock, horror) changed her mind about some issues, made political bargains for what she sees as the greater long-term good and had to swallow some dead rats. Which politician with a long record of service at a high level hasn’t?
I would like to challenge a few allegations and labels that are thrown around by some commenters on this site at times, though: in particular that she’s dishonest and “belongs in prison”. Have a look at what long-time political reporter Jill Abramson from The Guardian has to say about this:
“As an editor I’ve launched investigations into her business dealings, her fundraising, her foundation and her marriage. As a reporter my stories stretch back to Whitewater. I’m not a favorite in Hillaryland. That makes what I want to say next surprising.
Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy… Politifact, a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization, gives Clinton the best truth-telling record of any of the 2016 presidential candidates. She beats Sanders and Kasich and crushes Cruz and Trump, who has the biggest “pants on fire” rating and has told whoppers about basic economics that are embarrassing for anyone aiming to be president. (He falsely claimed GDP has dropped the last two quarters and claimed the national unemployment rate was as high as 35%).”
Abramson thinks Clinton could handle her public relations better, saying she’s very protective of her privacy, but she also understands that Clinton has been subjected to extremely intrusive investigation for decades and that her response (a “zone of silence”) is understandable.
Looking at the Politifact site is also very revealing. It gives a much more nuanced view of Clinton’s actions and opinions than we often get from commenters here. They rate 72% of her public claims as True, Mostly True or Half True. Have a look at the discussion of the (ridiculous, misleading) YouTube video that accuses Hillary of “lying for 13 minutes straight”, for example.
It’s interesting to look at how Trump, the preferred president of some vociferous commenters on this site (now that Bernie Sanders is no longer an option) rates. 76% False, Mostly False, or Pants on Fire (a massive 16% compared to Hillary’s 1%). And what about Sanders himself? 49% False or Mostly False (although to his credit his pants seem to be safe from combustion).
I know this isn’t the only issue that left wing commentators think about when they consider a Clinton presidency. I agree with concerns about the Bush/Clinton/Kennedy oligarchy, the distorted role of special delegates and the ridiculous costs of primaries in the US. There’s plenty of room for argument about the US’s recent roles in Libya and Syria (dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t) – both of which, let’s remember, are the result of the leadership of Obama and the collective decision-making of the Senate, not the sole responsibility of Clinton (and no, I won’t call her “Killary”).
I have no special affection for Hillary Clinton – I’m really glad that Sanders has opened up the political landscape and think he’s played an important role in helping to create pressure for a leftward shift. However, I’ve been really disturbed by the level of anger and negativity, and by the asinine concept that it’s somehow “purer” for left-leaning folk to vote Trump over Clinton in some kind of attempt to “bring on the revolution”. I also happen to agree with te reo putake that we should celebrate the social shift that is slowly allowing strong women to step forward into leadership roles (a different kind of revolution).
I know not everyone on this site is going to agree with me, but I think it’s time we stopped buying into the Trump-ite view of Hillary Clinton. I can imagine a US (and a world) with her as American President; I don’t want to imagine one with Mr Pants-On-Fire at the helm.