After my last post a commenter on Facebook asked if I was just anti-Trump or whether I actually support Hillary Clinton. The commenter implied that neither is an acceptable choice for president.
It’s a good question. First I must say that defeating Donald Trump is reason enough to vote for almost anybody else but that’s not a good enough answer, either for the commenter or myself.
I don’t hate Hillary and I don’t think she should be in jail, but I didn’t vote for her in the 2016 primary or in 2008. I know I am in the demographic that represents her most enthusiastic supporters–mature women–but I wouldn’t vote for a woman just because she is a woman. The problem I have had with her is both personal and political. Politically she has not been progressive enough to suit me and personally, I have never quite liked her or trusted her. I’m with the multitudes in that regard.
Nevertheless, I will vote for Hillary Clinton in November and I will work to elect her. My view of her is changing.
I don’t hope to persuade any of the folks who have been whipped up into fury against her to vote for Hillary. I can’t undo in a blog post or two the result of decades of relentless Hillary-bashing by right-wing media and the Republican Party.
Rather, I am going to examine my own longtime doubts and why I can now say firmly, “I’m with her.” This may take more than one post. First, the doubts.
The scandals. This Atlantic article is a pretty good summary of all the controversies that have dogged Hillary Rodham Clinton since she appeared with her husband on the national scene. It’s not pretty. But she has been investigated out the wazoo–and nothing jail-worthy has stuck. Still, what we have is “an accretion of decades of scandals that have led many Americans to distrust both Clinton and her husband Bill. Even though many of the controversies have involved far more smoke than fire—and sometimes no fire at all—the damage is real.”
The damage is real. As I said, I would put myself in the category of those who do not fully trust the Clintons.
On the other hand, she’s not the only one I can say that about. If only we knew this much about all politicians and candidates! But I must say that integrity is important to me in a candidate. Obama has integrity. Bernie has integrity.
Can you have degrees of integrity? IMHO Trump has none; Hillary has some, certainly more than Trump; Bernie has a lot; Obama has a lot; my husband has the most of all. He is so honest he can’t tell a lie even to make me feel better, like telling me I don’t look fat in an outfit when I say that I do.
Yes, I think Hillary has sometimes lied and fudged the truth. It seems she does that mostly to protect herself and to avoid admitting she made mistakes. A little more transparency would go a long way. Admit mistakes and move on. On the other hand, she has been under such constant attack in her public life that any admission of error would be blown up into a crime worthy of execution by her tireless opponents.
She does not lie, like Trump, to manipulate others, to take advantage of people, to tell them what they want to hear so they will give her power. She does not destroy others for her own gain.
Hillary tries to cover her own mistakes. But I have to say, even my husband, the most honest man in the world, doesn’t like to admit he was wrong.
Her personality. Unfortunately, self-protectiveness makes Hillary wear a mask of boringness and fake-seeming cheerfulness in public. She’s a terrible campaigner. Her wooden public persona seems to make her fair game for vicious attacks. It’s easy to Hate Hillary because she doesn’t seem like a normal, warm, ordinary human being. Why can’t she become a more relaxed public speaker? Probably because she’s afraid of making any mistakes that could be blown up. She lacks the Obamas’ ability to disarm critics with a great speech and genuine public passion and warmth. President Obama hasn’t exercised that charisma so much recently as he did in his campaigns and the early years of his presidency. It doesn’t always work.
Lack of vision. Integrity is not just about not lying. It is having a core of moral values that govern your life or, in the case of political leaders, guide your decisions and the way you govern the country. I have always wondered just what Hillary believes. The laundry list of women, children, minorities, healthcare, yada yada doesn’t quite hang together as a coherent vision.
More seriously, she seems too easily influenced, though it’s not clear by whom. She is usually accused by progressives like me of being in the pocket of big business. Her husband, as president, seemed to stick his finger in the wind to detect prevailing public opinion and follow that. If either is true of Hillary, it calls into question the vision thing.
I have associated integrity in politicians with having a coherent vision and sticking to it, hard as that may be. I know it is easier to say what you want for the country than to actually get it done. But now I am wondering about that balance between vision and getting things done.
This article has gotten a lot of attention recently and it puts a different spin on that balance. It also sheds light on the personality problem–why Hillary seems so wooden in public but seems to be respected, even admired and loved by anybody who has ever known her privately, including colleagues from across the aisle. It addresses the gap between the public and private Hillary.
It is the most persuasive thing I’ve read, tipping me from being a reluctant, anybody-but-Trump voter to a firm supporter of Hillary Clinton. It comes down to a core of her character that explains a lot about both her strengths and weaknesses. It rings true. If, like me, you have doubts but an open mind, you should really read it.
To be continued.