Interlude: Voting for Hillary

I have no intention of getting into politics much in this blog — my friends and family who read it are mostly on the same page in these matters, so aside from the occasional venting, or irresistible opportunities for humor, there’s little point.  But while playing ESO recently with Mum and Sarah, we got to talking about Hillary.  She’d just picked Tim Kaine as her running mate, and we were talking — in various flavors and degrees — about Hillary not being our first choice, but that even if you actually didn’t like her wouldn’t you have to vote for her to be sure that Trump didn’t get in?

This, of course, is the Choice of Sanity.  You may or may not be wild about HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton), but she’s incomprehensibly better than HTF (Human Tire Fire).  I would vote for a rutabaga before I would vote for Trump.  Rutabagas stir up very little nationalist, racist, astoundingly-Nazi-sounding sentiments, rally few Klan members, and are very unlikely to push The Button in a fit of pique.

But, as far as my feelings about Hillary, I’ve gone through a bit of an evolution on this, over the course of her two campaigns, from liking her before the first one to not liking her much by the end of it, and liking her even less, recently… but I’m currently liking her more than I used to and not minding so much that I’ll be voting for her.  I mentioned some of the reasons for that when I was talking to Mum and Sarah, and then this morning I sent them an e-mail with links to a couple of the things I’d brought up that had influenced my change of heart.  It occurred to me that they might be as helpful, to anyone else having the same concerns, as they have been to me, so I thought I’d repeat them here.

BTW, none of this is intended to persuade you to like her or to take any particular political position. 🙂  She wasn’t my first or second choice for the job, and anyway we’re all on the same page, I think, that voting for her is at least necessary to keep HTF out of the most powerful office in the world.  But, in the last few months, I have reluctantly gone from really kind of disliking her (“Fine, I’ll vote for her if I have to.”) to wondering if maybe she won’t turn out to be actually good at the job?

The first thing that had influenced me was an article I read a couple of months ago that I cannot now find hide nor hair of — sometimes the internet’s like that, if you don’t bookmark something, it’s lost in the sea of similar search terms — on where the commonly reported knock on Hillary’s truthfulness comes from.  Some reporter had traced through the media over the last 25 years and found what appeared to be its first source, many years ago, from an opposition accusation that the Republicans picked up and kept repeating until it stuck.  (More on that later.)

The second was a chart compiled from the fact-checking group Politifact, that I’ve seen several times, that very favorably ranked her honesty in comparison to the other candidates.  This was a bear to track down, but I found a copy, along with a very good article with other useful links, at a website called Mormon Press, of all places!

http://www.mormonpress.com/lying_liars_who_lie_2016_edition

It shows that she has a higher percentage of statements that are True or Mostly True than any of the other leading politicians, including Bernie and Obama.  And her pants are less on fire than anyone but Sanders. 🙂

The third was a recent article by Ezra Klein, a Vox reporter who began to wonder about the disparity between public perception of her and what he kept hearing from people who actually knew her. I didn’t remember the source, at first, but it was much faster to find than the chart:

http://www.vox.com/a/hillary-clinton-interview/the-gap-listener-leadership-quality

It’s not a whitewash, and points out a couple of potential issues.  But it suggests that she’s good at working with people, listening, forging agreements, and making sure that the right opinions get heard and acted upon. And then on Friday she picked a VP who is massively liked and respected on both sides of the aisle, and that really suggests that she’s interested in building unity and agreement and getting what she wants through Congress at a practical level.  Which Obama has not really been great at — he’s obviously been fought tooth and nail to an absurd level by Republicans, who value political gain over national benefit, but my reading suggests that he didn’t expect that level of resistance to obviously beneficial actions, and thought that plain compromise would get them through. It’s clear that Hillary has no such illusions, but she sounds, from the Klein article, like she may be better at dealing with it.  And I would assume that Tim Kaine will be relied on heavily for that.  (Hopefully, we can deliver a Democratic congress, to make it even easier!)

As I said earlier, I couldn’t manage to find the article I read a couple of months ago, tracking down where the original accusation of her lying started, but I did recently see this great Veritasium video on how simply repeating a thing — any thing — causes it to be viewed as better, more true, etc.  It’s a kind of amazing video, and I highly recommend it:

I do still have some Hillary concerns, though I think some of them have been moderated by Sanders and Warren getting on board.  I don’t like the way she’s sometimes a very political player nor some of the things she says while acting that way, and that viewpoint is unlikely to improve. (It’s not uncommon for politicians, but it doesn’t make it laudable.)  I don’t like the support she had for fracking in other countries when she was at State, and I’m certain she won’t reign in the drone attacks we’re doing in other countries, which in my opinion are a betrayal of basic American (and human) principles.  (Of all the candidates, only Bernie would have been likely to have done that.)  She’s unlikely to pardon Snowden.  (Again, only Bernie.)  I wasn’t convinced that she would create the real financial reforms that this country needs, but Warren is supporting her and I suspect that there were concessions involved in that support. And Warren leading banking committees in the Senate, with Hillary’s support, could be a very strong combination.

And Sanders pushed the party platform leftward, and I’m pretty sure got some concessions from her in exchange for his support; some of her recent proposals (such as for reducing student loan debt) are clearly Sanders related.  And if Trump can help us get a Democratic congress, we could get a lot of vital stuff pushed through.

But, based on the information above (and other, similar articles), I’m coming to the conclusion that I’ve been misled in some areas by the constant slander against her, and that at least some of concerns may not have been exaggerated by its influence. (Mother Jones magazine has a kind of amazing list of conspiracy theories about her, which I won’t link to because Veritasium, but it’s easy to Google if you really want to.)  Even without liking her, she is clearly competent to do the job, and if I mark my concerns about her integrity as suspect, as I’m coming to think they are, then I’m not sure I have any strong objections.  Would I like her to have some different viewpoints on some things? Sure. Is that true of every president? Sure.

So, I’ve gone through a bit of an evolution on this; I’m still not sure, but I have come to feel better about her, I’m hoping that she’ll prove my concerns to be unfounded, and I’m maybe even optimistic that she might turn out to be much better at the job than I had thought she might, based on how she’s described by associates in the Ezra Klein interview, by her VP pick, and by Sanders’ and Warren’s support.  So, I thought I’d lay all of that out here, on the off chance that it will be helpful for anyone else who has had similar concerns.  Maybe it will help you feel better, at least, as you cast your vote against the Human Tire Fire.

-Charles

P.S.(Also, as a traveler, I’m just grateful that the Brits had Brexit.  Suuurrrre took the heat off America, in the “dumbass nationalists” department.  Nobody over here is spending time talking about HTF.  Let’s all do our best to keep it that way, shall we?)


UPDATE: 09/15/2016

Since I wrote this, I’ve run across a couple of other really good pieces about Hillary, which I’m going to add here.  Nobody is ever likely to see this, but, what can I say? I’m a completist.  ¯\ _(ツ)_/¯

One person’s experience with Hillary as Senator

Garrison Keillor: “Hillary Clinton’s concrete shoes”

I’ll add more, if I trip across any that I think are really good.

-C

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