[Trigger Warning: If you are one of the fifty people in America who genuinely believes that Hillary Clinton was a fabulous Presidential candidate and that the leaders of the Democratic Party made an inspired choice in backing her, you may experience feelings of unease by reading this, so please stop at once and go directly to your safe space. The rest of you are cleared to proceed.]
We just lived through a real shocker of an election. I am on record as having serious reservations about both candidates, so I suppose this makes it easier to be relatively sanguine about the surprising result.
But in the hours since the campaign commercials stopped, I have seen a series of pieces online with titles like “How Do We Tell The Children” and “How To Cope With These Election Results.” My favorite is “We Did Not Deserve Hillary Clinton”. Many in my circle of family and friends are avowed non-fans of Trump as President. I get that. But all of the hand-wringing in the leftern half of the blogosphere over voters’ unwillingness to support Mrs. Clinton? Please, just stop.
I have no desire to re-fight the merits of the Clinton vs. Trump election. That drawn-out event is (thankfully and blessedly) over. And I have genuine sympathy for friends whose favored candidate(s) lost the election – my favored candidates have been on the losing side many times, and it is never a good feeling.
But the merits of Trump and Clinton’s respective positions and platforms aside, does anyone really dispute that Hillary Clinton was a uniquely awful candidate? What, I wonder, was the donkey smoking?
You never really liked her, you know – just admit it. Her only value was that she stood between America and President Trump. But was she ever, under any conceivable circumstance, a good choice of candidates?
I don’t think I am being provocative when I say that out of all the candidates to run against the most disliked, most divisive Republican nominee in history (yes, history), you Democrats chose the worst one possible. Did you not understand just how unpopular she has been to so many people in so many parts of the country for so long?
I am old enough to remember the ’90s quite well. While I never supported him, I could see why so many were fans of Bill Clinton. He was charming and likable and spoke to a broad cross section of America. Hillary Clinton was never any of those things. She was always smarter then the rest of us and lectured us on things big and small, often finishing sentences with an implied but unsaid ” . . . you [bleep] idiot.”
Everyone knew that she came with all of Bill’s negatives. She may not have engaged in the affairs (or worse), but she was one of the fixers cleaning them up and making them go away. Every time there were allegations of financial shenanigans, her name was always right there in the middle of things. These old issues are only relevant because when her opponent was charged with some of the same kinds of conduct, her credibility in attacking him was not far from zero.
By the time 2000 came along, there were many, many people in America who were just ready for her to be gone from the political scene. Bill maintained an enduring popularity. Hillary did not, because she was never that popular in the first place.
Everyone knew that she had, over a very long time, a thin and largely undistinguished record of professional accomplishment. Does anyone really dispute that her main claim to fame was being an insider VIP politico?
Everyone knew that she ran a private server for reasons other than simple convenience. It has been a clever dodge over the last couple of Administrations for people in government to use private email accounts for certain communications in order to keep them shielded from FOIA requests. But Hillary, as is her habit, took the practice to a whole new level, well beyond the blurry boundaries of legality, not to mention good sense. But how else to keep the shadowy world of Clinton Inc. out of sight so that no outsiders would ever see into the mysterious cauldron where mega-fundraising, influence peddling, pay to play (and even a little charity) were mixed into the kind of soup that never looks good in the daylight?
Everyone also knew that when she got caught with classified documents on her unsecured off-site privately owned and managed server, she lied about it, early and often. This was just one more example of the awful instincts that everyone knew she had – she was Nixon in a pantsuit, but without the record of accomplishments.
Everyone knew that she had no philosophy of her own – or at least none to which she was strongly attached. Was she the Elizabeth Warren Populist? Or the lady making speeches to Wall Street for big money? Champion of the forgotten? Champion of those who could write big checks? Or simply the Champion of Clinton, Inc.?
Everyone knew that because of all of these things and more, she had the highest negatives of just about any Democratic politician, living or dead. But for reasons that resist understanding, the Party apparatus cleared the way for her like a snowplow in a snowstorm, preventing many other viable candidates from venturing out of the garage. You may have heard of Joe Biden?
Everyone knew that by the time a seventy-five year old congressional back-bench socialist’s quixotic challenge suddenly sprouted some impressive legs, Hillary’s people in the DNC rigged the system (to coin a phrase) to keep her in the lead.
We had seen how prior democratic nominees like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had a personal appeal that reached out in new directions to find support. Bill was from the south, where he knew how to communicate with conservatives and to make them comfortable with his more liberal views. Obama promised healing for our persistent problems with race in America, making himself appealing to a broad group of people outside of big-city Democratic strongholds.
Everyone knew that Hillary lacked the personality and the skills to appeal to voters on a personal level. Where Bubba and Obama were able to woo those from outside of their normal constituencies, Hillary called them names. A “basket of deplorables”? Really? I am having a hard time thinking of another major political figure with this kind of a tin ear for what does and what does not rally others to the cause.
Be honest, how many people do you know who were genuinely enthusiastic about her as a candidate? For much of the Presidential campaign, I heard many of my friends on the right bemoan the fact that there was one candidate who would lose to Hillary Clinton, and the Republicans nominated him. That phrase passed my own lips more than once. The joke, as it turns out, was on me. Because the opposite turned out to be true.
There will be quite a lot to say about Donald Trump in the coming four years, and I have no doubt that it will be said, all down to the very last word. I still have significant reservations about the man and whether he does well or poorly in fulfilling his duties as our President will be a matter that we can take up as examples come our way.
But Hillary Clinton? I remember what Colin Powell once referred to as the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you buy it, you own it. I know many, many people who were quite unsettled with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. Most likely, many were ready to employ a favorite maxim of my grandfather: “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” But sometimes, the devil you know is so – well, deplorable – that you just. can’t. vote. for. her.
If you detect a bit of bile in my treatment of today’s subject (which I am usually able to keep out of my writing on serious topics), you would be correct. In wondering why this is, I believe it is because I carry no small bit of resentment that the Democratic Party would not provide any real alternative to Donald Trump. It is true that I am a longtime conservative who has seldom voted the D. But that doesn’t mean that I would not be willing to break the glass and pull the lever on the left in case of a real emergency. Where the heck was a decent opposition candidate when a guy needed one?
As an American and as an optimist by nature, I am hopeful that things with a Trump Administration will go smoothly and well. I like to believe that there will be enough good people around him to insulate us all from his worst tendencies. If things go badly, as one who voted for the man I am prepared to stand up and take my share of responsibility (while noting that he would have won my State whether I had voted for him or not.) However, I do not intend to stand there all alone because there were some significant unforced errors from the opposition party that were much more direct causes of our current situation than little old me could ever have been
I recall reading one wag who said that nothing good could come of a vote for Hillary Clinton. Something good might possibly, however, come from a vote for Donald Trump – if only by accident. For we conservatives, the biggest bonanza of state and federal election wins since the ’20s might have been one of those happy accidents, though I am quite sure that my more progressive readers will disagree. In either case, I guess we will have to wait and see.