So, I heard something interesting when reading/listening/watching the news over the last 18 or so months.
Hillary Clinton isn’t perfect.
I know, this is a shock. But I want to tell you something even more shocking.
Ready? Brace yourself.
It doesn’t matter.
Now, let me backtrack just a little. Obviously, Hillary Clinton has legitimate flaws. And yes, they should be taken seriously. After all, she is running for the office of the most powerful person on the planet. It’s fair to analyze her qualities, flaws, and quirks. But… one should be thoughtful about it. One should not give into anger or the emotion of the moment. It’s important to understand how to separate the bullshit from the truth.
Hillary Clinton is running for president, and I am officially endorsing her. And I want to tell you why. I want you to understand what I see, and understand what I’ve read. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Some will just dismiss me as a liberal drinking the Kool-Aid. Some will dismiss me as a poor sap fooled by the neoliberal war machine.
I’m going to explain why all of that is wrong. And by the end of this, I hope you, dear reader, has a better understanding of where I’m coming from when I say Hillary Clinton is the most logical and reasonable choice for President of the United States.
Reasons for voting Clinton over everyone else
Hillary Clinton technically has 1,909 total competitors running against her. Those are the total number of people who have filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. But in terms of people who will actually get a significant number of votes (potentially over 1 million), she has 4 competitors.
I will list each one, and provide a brief reason why I can’t endorse them.
1.) Donald Trump – Republican
Where do I begin? He’s a monster. I know that’s a bold thing to say. But what he has said, what he has done, how he acts – this matters. He has stated a willingness to act in ways directly contradicting at least 7 Constitutional Amendments. He has pledged to commit war crimes. He has lied on matters of policy literally ¾ of the time. He has confessed, on camera, to committing sexual assault. He has suspicious ties to the Russian government. He is likely a tax cheat. He thinks global warming isn’t real. He was deemed guilty of racial discrimination by the Nixon Administration. There is so much more. Donald Trump is arguably the worst major party presidential candidate over the last century. Donald Trump makes George W. Bush seem competent.
2.) Gary Johnson – Libertarian
Johnson seems like a nice guy. And unlike Trump, he has held elected office. As governor of New Mexico, his record wasn’t great. And his libertarian platform – while “moderate” for a libertarian, would still completely reshape the entire federal government. Many like the notion of libertarianism. And many people also still think of Ayn Rand as an important thinker. I spent a little time a couple months ago describing why Gary Johnson is a terrible candidate for someone of a more liberal political lean. I think that this also goes for most conservatives, as well.
3.) Evan McMullin – Independent
He’s Ted Cruz, ideologically speaking, though he seems to have quite a bit more character and principle. He’s also a Mormon, for whatever that’s worth. He doesn’t seem like a horrible person, but he’s only on the ballot in 11 states, and likely to only be competitive in one. He also is really, stupidly, right-wing. If one likes the idea of a non-evil, Mormon Ted Cruz, then I guess he might be the best choice. But he can’t win, barring an electoral tie between Clinton and Trump.
4.) Jill Stein – Green
The “principled choice” for liberals and progressives. Jill Stein is supposed to be free of all the dirty political muck that covers Hillary Clinton. However, Dr. Stein doesn’t seem to have a great handle on how politics work. She demonstrated confusion over issues like quantitative easing, the medical hazards of WiFi signals, and has pandered to the anti-vaxxer crowd. Her speeches and writing also indicates a lack of understanding of our two-party system. She acts as though passing progressive policies is just a matter of political will and whipping the Democrats into shape. Yeah, because there’s not this whole other party that dominates the state governments, and the US House.
Okay, you say, but she also isn’t in bed with corporate interests, and she’ll end all our wars. Well, recent revelations have shown she’s been fairly careless with her investment portfolio. Maybe that isn’t a huge deal. I mean, who actually digs through their 401k, looking for fossil fuel and weapons companies? But it must be said it looks bad for someone who makes such a show of her principles and integrity. And for ending wars, cutting the military in half, and pulling out of all foreign conflicts – it’s a nice thought, but not actually that simple. Not only would she face tremendous pressure from all ends of the government, but our involvement around the world is such that quick withdrawals would almost certainly mean greater instability and huge power vacuums. A century of American intervention around the world – much derided (sometimes fairly) as “imperialism” – has created codependencies. Simply “pulling out” and shutting down half our bases without years of negotiations, alternative plans, slow drawdowns, and other complex deals, would be a disaster.
I want to like Jill Stein. I probably align more closely with her from an ideological perspective than I do with Hillary Clinton. But she has no practical hope of winning, and she has some serious flaws of her own, especially with her understanding of the nuances of the job she’s applying for. She also is downright dishonest when she repeatedly claims Hillary Clinton is scarier and more dangerous than Donald Trump. This is a ridiculous notion, that only holds true if one believes a Donald Trump presidency would be better for the Green Party political brand. It’s a cynical, ignorant, and reckless viewpoint, and one that seems to completely forget what an utter failure that notion was in 2000, when Ralph Nader was saying much the same thing.
If Stein really cared about progressive change, she would work to turn the Green Party into an effective political party, with support and funding for candidates at the city, county, and state levels. This would require dirty things like fundraising and advertising. Basically, becoming a mainstream party. Otherwise, she may as well do what Bernie Sanders did and become a Democrat. Actually, that might be more effective.
Hillary Clinton has been a lawyer, the most active and influential First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt, a U.S. Senator, the co-founder of a massively successful international relief and aid organization, and the United States Secretary of State. That’s quite a resume.
As a first lady, she helped to create the CHIP program, which has insured 8 million children across the United States. She also acted as a diplomat, and gave many speeches, speaking out on the rights of women and children around the world.
As a Senator, she put a lot of work into improving health care for veterans, especially reservists. She helped push through aid for 9/11 first responders. She was lauded by members of both parties for her work in several committees, as well as her ability to reach common ground with Republicans.
As Secretary of State, she visited 112 countries – more than any other Secretary in history. She helped negotiated the Iranian nuclear deal, as well as a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
Her platform is actually surprisingly progressive, far better than many leftist naysayers had assumed. Her tax plan calls for a big increase in the estate tax, as well as modest increases on income taxes for the wealthiest Americans. She is supporting big increases in infrastructure spending, college tuition coverage, children’s healthcare, and early childhood education. She supports a major increase in the minimum wage, and 12 weeks of paid family leave and 12 weeks of paid medical leave, which is actually quite revolutionary for Americans. Her proposed Wall Street regulations are stronger than many might assume, given her reputation. Clinton has advocated a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, fatter healthcare subsidies, and the ability to negotiate down drug prices. Clinton’s proposed changes are largely incremental, but also largely possible and practical – and that’s important. Moonshots are great, but understanding the political climate matters more. Clinton is proposing a more progressive domestic program than her immediate predecessor, and that’s nothing to sneer at.
Debunking the scandals and conspiracies
This is going to have to be abridged, since Hillary Clinton has been the subject of more fear-mongering, lies, slander, attacks, and criticism than 99.9% of all public figures in the United States. Hillary has been a magnet for scandal.
I’m going to go over some of the bigger ones from recent years. This is by no means comprehensive, but should provide a framework with which to debunk some of the attacks on her over the years. If someone says, “But Hillary did this, this, and this…” you have some ammunition.
First of all, let’s start off with a few overviews of her controversies and scandals:
In some ways Benghazi might be the “scandal” that riles up Trump supporters the most, or at least a close second to the emails. On September 11th, 2012, the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked during a period of unrest and protest. The US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, as well as a diplomat and two security personnel were killed during the violence. At the time of the attack, President Obama was on the home stretch of his reelection campaign, and Hillary Clinton was his Secretary of State. There was quite a bit of confusion at the time of the attacks, and the intelligence community initially believed the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an inflammatory anti-Islamic video that had been released previously. The Obama administration at the time accepted the initial reports of the cause of the attack, but cautioned patience as more information was discovered.
It was later ascertained that the attack was indeed a plotted-out act of terror. And the Obama Administration did react swiftly to the attack as it was occurring, but little could be done at the time.
Covering a few myths and misconceptions:
* There was no “stand down” order from Clinton or anyone else to the embassy security or the US military.
* Hillary Clinton was certainly not “asleep” during the attacks, as they occurred in the mid-afternoon in Washington.
* Hillary Clinton DID take full responsibility for the attack and aftermath.
There was no evidence of cover-up.
* Clinton did not refuse 600 requests from Ambassador Stevens for extra security before the attack. The reality of security requests was a lot more complex.
* This was hardly the first attack on a United States embassy or consulate. Since 1979, there have been 19 total attacks, including 7 under the Bush Administration. The Bush-era attacks resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people.
In the aftermath of the incident, the Republican Congress spearheaded a hearing to investigate the events of September 11, as well as the Obama Administration’s response. And then they held another. And another. As of November 2016, EIGHT separate hearings have been conducted – six more than were held for the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. And what did they find? They all agreed security could have been better before the attack, but no wrongdoing or cover-ups could be found. This has been acknowledged repeatedly. It was an unfortunate tragedy, but nothing more.
There appeared to be mistakes made before the attack. There was definitely a misunderstanding of the motivations of the attack when it first happened. But no cover-up occurred, and there was no criminal negligence on the part of Hillary Clinton. In fact, there is some truth to the idea that the Republican led Congress actually reduced the overall budget for embassy security in the two years leading up to the attacks. Would the budget that President Obama submitted have made a difference? Maybe. Maybe not. But it is more evidence that events like this contain considerable nuance.
So, apparently, Hillary Clinton has a problem with e-mails. At least, that’s what we keep hearing. There have been a few different problems with her campaign and e-mails, but the big one officially started 15 plus years ago.
After Bill Clinton left office, he set up his own personal server for e-mails and the like. His fledgling foundation was getting off the ground, and he wanted a secure server to help run things. Hillary used it for her personal e-mails while she was a Senator. At the same time, many, if not most government officials – from legislators up to the executive branch – used personal email accounts for a mixture of both public and private e-mails. For the first decade of the century, government e-mail policy was a bit haphazard. When Hillary Clinton was sworn in as Secretary of State in 2009, she kept working off her personal server. From her perspective, why not? It was private, just as secure as what the government was using, and not officially against policy at that point. Nobody in the government batted an eye. Nor was it a secret. Even by the time Hillary’s e-mails started getting attention, a third of government employees were conducting business with private e-mails.
But what about that pesky classified information? Well, that’s trickier, but not complex. Most classified information isn’t actually sent via e-mail. Most of the e-mails sent on her server were not remotely sensitive. And among the e-mails that were marked classified (that were sent and received by Secretary Clinton), there were varying levels of classification. And almost all of the ones that should not have been sent via private e-mail, were retroactively marked classified. Meaning, they weren’t classified when she sent them. Out of more than 62,000 e-mails that were investigated, just 110 were marked classified when they were sent.
Yes, it wasn’t ideal, but there was no evidence classified information was sent intentionally. And there was no evidence any information made it into the hands of people not privy to such information.
It could have been handled better, and her overall penchant for secrecy certainly makes things worse, but the FBI director himself concluded that she is – at most – guilty of some carelessness. Carelessness she had in common with large swaths of Washington. Again, one can’t say she was entirely aboveboard with the e-mail situation, but there was nothing criminal or particularly dangerous. I’m going to provide the below links for further research, mostly since embedding these is a pain in the ass.
Clinton and/or the DNC stole the primary from Bernie Sanders
This myth is fading a bit, but among some die-hard Bernie supporters, as well as some others on the far-left (and far-right), Bernie Sanders was robbed in his primary challenge against Hillary Clinton.
There’s a lot of different (and sometimes conflicting) conspiracy theories with this one, but basically, Bernie Sanders supporters claimed the DNC was rigging the election against Sanders. Short answer: Definitely not. Longer answer: They certainly preferred Hillary, and some leaked e-mails made this preference clear. But in general, the actual process of voting was fair and scandal-free.
A few basic facts:
* Caucus states actually helped Bernie more than they did Hillary.
* Purged voters in Brooklyn were voters who hadn’t voted in two straight elections, and likely would have been more supportive of Clinton than Sanders. Many voter purges are simply a matter of cleaning up voter rolls to ensure deceased people, and those who have moved, don’t remain registered for too many cycles.
* Hillary would have won strictly on the popular vote with and without superdelegates, with proportional voting, and under GOP rules. She simply had more supporters than Bernie.
* Open primaries were actually better for Hillary than for Bernie.
Yes, the “establishment” never warmed up to Bernie Sanders. But the primary contests weren’t rigged against him. He performed exceedingly well, and forced Clinton to move to the left on certain issues – which she largely stuck with after the convention. Despite losing, Sanders still accomplished quite a bit.
Hillary lost 6 billion dollars at the State Department
Nope. Money wasn’t missing. Over a period of a few years, paperwork on some government contracts went unsigned and in a few cases, yes, missing. Two thirds of the contracts involved Secretary Clinton’s predecessors. In a vast bureaucracy, unfortunately, paperwork sometimes gets mishandled. It’s true that the audit found that 6 billion dollars worth of contracts had these paperwork issues. However, the money itself was entirely accounted for.
The Clinton Foundation
So, the Clinton Foundation was started, mostly by Bill Clinton, after he left office in 2001. Hillary Clinton has been accused of providing favors for people, companies, and even countries, in exchange for donations to the foundation. In addition, some have accused the foundation of doing minimal charity work. Some have also accused it of being a giant money laundering organization, intended to enrich the Clintons themselves, and help fund Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. Thus far, none of that has been proven true.
The Clinton Foundation itself has actually been remarkably successful, especially with providing inexpensive AIDS drugs to people across Africa. It has been suggested that literally millions of lives have been saved thanks to the Foundation. Seriously. Millions. That’s a big deal. The Foundation has definitely had its share of failures, but it has almost certainly been a hugely positive force in the world. It is considered (by people who are paid to consider these things) one of the best charities on Earth.
Hillary laughed at a rape victim, and freed her rapist.
Not even close. In 1975, young lawyer Hillary Rodham was assigned by a court to defend the accused rapist of then-12-year-old Kathy Shelton. The prosecutor on the case has stated that Hillary was unhappy with the assignment and resisted it at first. Hillary did her job and defended the accused. Eventually, Kathy and her mother pushed for a plea deal, and the rapist plead guilty, was sentenced to 5 years, and ended up serving a total of 10 months. The “laughter” came from her reminiscing about aspects of the case many years later.
Bill Clinton’s policies
Bill Clinton had kind of a mixed record to liberals. He often pivoted to the center, and frequently worked with Republicans on bills that would be anathema to previous liberal stalwarts. Welfare reform, the 1994 crime bill, deficit reduction, NAFTA – these policies have been controversial among progressives and liberals. And Hillary Clinton has been seen as a symbol of those policies.
However, the truth is a little trickier.
It has been pointed out that her involvement with domestic policy largely ended after the failure of health reform. And while she did occasionally voice support for some of her husband’s policies, she actually spent some time behind the scenes fighting against some of the harsher aspects of the welfare reform law. Similar things occurred with the crime bill. As an aside, it should be noted that Bernie Sanders himself voted for the crime bill.
There is also quite a bit of doubt that the crime bill actually had much effect on mass incarcaration. This is a myth that doesn’t have a lot of statistical backing. It certainly is true that the crime bill included harsh policies that disproportionately affected minorities. It’s also true that new policies proposed by the 2016 version of Hillary Clinton takes strides to atone for much of the excesses of that bill.
NAFTA, a boogeyman of both the left, and the Trumpian right, didn’t actually have that much of an effect on job losses and trade imbalances. Treaties with China were far more impactful to American jobs.
Hillary Clinton is too right wing/hawkish/pro-corporate
Well, there are some legitimate arguments to be made here. I will get into some of them in the “Real Concerns” section below. She certainly is not the most progressive candidate on certain issues. However, much of the complaints about her from the left have been overstated. 3.9% of her campaign contributions have been from Wall Street sources, which is far less than many of the big names in Washington. And her foreign policy, while definitely more inclined toward military solutions than I would like, also has included some deft diplomacy. From an ideological standpoint, she was generally rated as one of the more liberal Senators, and matches up on most issues 85-90 percent of the time with Bernie Sanders.
So, one popular knock on Hillary Clinton is that she’s dishonest. Well, how does one measure dishonesty? Do we talk about her reactions to the aforementioned “scandals?” Well then, for the most part, she comes off well. Does she bend the truth now and then? Sure. She’s a national political figure with a penchant for secrecy. She certainly isn’t perfect. And if you still persist in thinking all of the above issues are true, then I suppose she is a hideous liar. But in the real world, where she’s generally pretty clean on those topics, she’s reasonably honest.
If we’re talking policy and her take on governing, then she may the most honest major American political figure, next to President Obama. She’s been quite accurate compared to all of the major primary candidates of this current Presidential election.
When discussing Jill Stein earlier, I noted that she is unrealistic about the size and interconnectedness of American military power. Simply cutting the US military budget by half in one fell swoop would have serious consequences all around the globe. Having said that, there is something to be said about just how extensive our military is all over the world. The United States has more than 800 military bases in other countries. We spend more on our armed forces than the next seven largest militaries combined. We are engaged in actual conflicts in literally dozens of countries. And we have killed (albeit largely unintentionally) thousands of civilians every year for decades. The United States has sometimes supported noble causes and helped broker peace. The United States has also supported unlawful coups and helped prop up murderous regimes.
And as a Senator, and then later as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has been complicit (sometimes more directly than others), in quite a few interventions in several countries, with a rather mixed success rate. Many civilians have died, and international democratic reforms haven’t exactly spread like wildfire. Clinton has demonstrated a faith in a fairly aggressive foreign policy and definitely deserves credit (blame?) for much of the drone program that turns warfare into a videogame. It becomes far too easy to pull the trigger when there’s a disconnect from the target. A lot of innocent people have died.
It’s true that American foreign policy has been violent and often expansionist – especially over the last 120 years or so. And Hillary Clinton hardly has the most blood on her hands among Secretaries of State. But she definitely has far more than she should. And her foreign policy is something we need to watch carefully.
I’m also concerned, albeit somewhat less so, about her friendliness to corporate interests, While she is certainly a believer in climate change, and not opposed to some increased regulation and restriction on carbon, she isn’t groundbreaking. There has been a willingness to trust private enterprise far more than she should, and that needs to be watched closely.
Voting your conscience
To me, “voting my conscience” means ensuring that the best possible outcome occurs in the election. Note the word “possible.” My conscience is fine with compromise. My conscience would be much worse-off knowing that the reckless, ignorant, dishonest, corrupt, hateful, and predatory Donald Trump is elected. Yes, maybe Stein’s policies are a hair closer to my own. Yeah, Johnson seems like a cool guy. Sure, McMullin is… um, not Trump. But so what? Those three aren’t gonna be President. Even in a system that made it easier for third parties to succeed – they would still be longshots, because none of them represent a plurality of the American electorate. All three reside closer to the ideological fringes.
The Democratic and Republican platforms are both close to a plurality. Either Clinton or Trump WILL be President. And I reject the notion that I’m choosing “the lesser of two evils.” Imperfect is not synonymous with evil. Perfection is something children and those who don’t care about actually getting elected aspire to. When one candidate actually is evil, and the other one is flawed, but basically on my side, and a handful of others have no practical hope of victory, my conscience tells me to prevent evil. The worst-case scenario is not a viable option, especially for something as shallow as trying to prove a point.
And it’s fair to note that most (I know, not all) of those who are casting a protest vote are relatively well-off white people – and usually male. You know, the people who stand to lose the least with a Trump election. Many straight white males have trouble empathizing with those who are directly threatened by a Trump presidency.
But my conscience tells me to pay attention to the plight of those who aren’t as privileged as I am.
Hillary Clinton has three major points going for her this election.
* She’s experienced and knowledgeable. Arguably moreso than any major party candidate of the past half century.
* She supports most of the better policies of the Obama Administration, while adding improvements to many of them. On several topics, she is proposing the most progressive policies since the dawn of the New Deal.
* She’s not Donald Trump.
There are plenty of other positive attributes to discuss, and I can expound in depth on my three initial points (I already have in many of the above paragraphs). But she is simply the best, and most practical choice for the system we currently have.
Hillary Clinton has demonstrated an ability to work with those who disagree with her, to compromise, and to make dirty political decisions that don’t satisfy the purists. But those decisions are how bills get passed. Those decisions are how meaningful progress occurs. It’s slow, it’s meandering, but real progress almost always requires concessions in a diverse democracy. And Hillary Clinton understands that better than any of her 1,909 opponents.
Hillary Clinton isn’t a perfect person, or a perfect candidate. But neither are any of her opponents. And she, above all others, understands how to use both her strengths and weaknesses to produce real accomplishments.
Barack Obama is arguably the most consequential American president since Johnson, maybe even since FDR. His policies, for all their flaws, (and for all the obstruction that has slowed them), have reshaped our government and political landscape more than any president in decades.
And Hillary Clinton may do a better job of pushing through further refinements of what he started. And that’s plenty good enough for me.
Beyond that, as mentioned before, she IS incredibly intelligent, accomplished, and experienced. She isn’t a leftist, but she has a solid progressive track record on several issues. Her party platform – largely thanks to a spirited primary challenge from Bernie Sanders – is more progressive than it otherwise would have been.
I think it is important to watch her carefully, and hold her accountable for decisions she makes. There are concerns about foreign intervention, the size of the military, and the national security state. It’s important for the left to pressure her on those issues, and make sure support is contingent on her making positive changes on those topics.
Meanwhile, for whatever it’s worth, I support Hillary Clinton for President and will happily cast my vote for her in just a few short hours. I really hope those who read this do the same.
For other endorsements of Hillary Clinton, please peruse the links below: