the biggest clinton cover up of all? she didn’t come to fool you
On 8 November 2016 I found myself watching the Clinton—Trump showdown from a remote town on the Pacific Coast. In its aftermath I joined the masses in experiencing a carnival of emotions, namely, the overwhelming sensation that I had been sucker-punched. I’m now sitting in a sandy cafe listening to a blonde with a drawling accent land theatrically on the subject of the election, as would a butterfly on the edge of a flower. Her voice rising and falling based on how she rates the insightfulness of her commentary. And I know what’s coming.
‘But in a country of that many people,’ she begins, in sing-song enjoyment of her keen political take. ‘How are those two candidates the best they could come up with?’ Now, I’m an introvert whose idea of extreme confrontation is direct eye contact, but at this point I struggle not to throw something at her.
It seems there is no corner of the world in which I can avoid this insane quip. To imply that America was presented with a ‘Sophie’s choice’ of candidates and that it could have only begrudgingly elected Hillary Clinton is karmic lighter fluid. It is irrational, misogynistic and we have seen the worst of its effects.
Yes, a myriad of factors converged to lead us down this rabbit hole in which Donald J. Trump is the president-elect. He-Man-Woman-Hating doesn’t deserve all the credit. But it has played its part. At times with subtlety, other times with gusto and always with a gentle nostalgia for the classic name-brand patriarchy of days gone by. One of the more nuanced roles it has played is in carving a chasm between what the facts are about Clinton and what the feeling is.
Because for all that anti-Clinton liberals see themselves as the antithesis of Donald Trump’s base, these two groups share a common process of evaluation. Their convictions are in a committed, symbiotic relationship with social media and are often instinctive, emotional and bolstered by popular consensus: ‘There’s just something about her.’
This type of feelings-first rhetoric was pushed hard at this year’s Republican National Convention when Trump’s surrogates said it was irrelevant whether or not crime was down under President Obama. Facts and figures, they said, were subjective (yes, you read that right). Facts and figures came from the press and were not to be trusted. What really mattered, they argued, was that many Americans felt like crime was on the rise.
That logic is nonsensical. And at a certain point, when a thing refuses to make sense, you go to what’s unspoken. The GOP spending eight years trying to delegitimise America’s first black president, requesting his birth certificate and calling him a secret Muslim, for example. Make sense? No? Racism? Millions around the globe insinuating that the country’s first female presidential candidate is a banshee who given half a chance would poison her opponents’ cereal. Make sense? No? Sexism?
Of course you could have legitimate, informed concerns about her policies. In which case, fair enough and congratulations to you for researching the election for longer than you researched where to get lunch. But when DONALD TRUMP is named as the alternative. You’re now in favour of a third-party candidate who can’t name a foreign leader and thinks Aleppo is a brand of yoghurt? Sexism.
And beyond sexism, stupidity. To promote false equivalency by dismissing Trump and Clinton as two of a kind is absurd. One is a barely literate, belligerent bigot who has never held any type of office or, for that matter, applied for any job besides President of the United States. The other is a gracious, intelligent and capable former Senator who worked her way up from the bottom. A woman who is, in the words of journalist Rebecca Traister: better and tougher than we deserve. If I had a daughter I would name her Hillary Badass Rodham II as a middle finger to the world’s… what’s the opposite of intelligentsia?
The contempt felt for Clinton is not compatible with the information at hand. I can only suppose those who experience it are trying to appease their first-world guilt by railing against the establishment. Or harbouring repressed hatred of their mothers. As Hugh Laurie puts it, ‘It’s as if I missed the first reel of the film where she burned down the orphanage.’
Hillary Clinton did not burn down an orphanage. And if you were to propose that she had, it would be amongst the most credible of the charges levelled against her. You poor, sweet, naïve girl, I hear you say. Don’t you know how corrupt she is? The Clinton Foundation? Haiti? Benghazi? Mass murder? Mother of aliens? Well, the most prominent allegations of corruption have been debunked. Or found wanting by journalists, judges, prosecutors. But what do they know.
So let me put it to you this way. Chances are you personally feel unfavourably towards Clinton. Not very unfavourably, but pretty unfavourably. When you hear crowds chant ‘Lock her up’, you nod along because it’s catchy! But you wouldn’t sincerely want her jailed. You’re not a monster. And her precise crimes are hard to pinpoint.
But, consider the fact that some powerful, high-ranking Republicans feel very unfavourably towards her. These are men who have infinite funds, influence and resources available to them. And they have long since used every tool in their arsenal to wage an all-out vendetta. Time and time and time again, they have failed to identify any imagined wrongdoings. But no, she can fool them but she can’t fool you. Fair enough.
Sure, most career politicians rely, to some extent, on pay for play, shady favours and the like. And Clinton is probably one of them. ‘Not like our man Bernie Sanders,’ you cry. And yet, dogged integrity and charisma will only get you so far, however many toys Democratic millennials throw out of the pram. Clinton’s experience, efficiency, flexibility and willingness to compromise with those across the aisle are an asset, not a betrayal.
If you’re prone to cynicism (and mild hysteria) you might be among those who believe she stole the nomination. In reality, she won by enough votes to make the bias of the DNC a moot point. The party did not hand it over just because it was “her turn”. No one has ever handed a woman anything because it was her turn.
‘But she’s a flaming, pants-on-fire liar’. To your above point, according to fact checkers, she statistically lies less than Bernie. Buried deep in Wall Street’s pocket? Then she’s not doing a very good job of it. They ran campaign ads against her.
Accepting inordinate sums of money for speeches? I feel you. Not a day goes by that we don’t see her lounging on a Caribbean island, laughing maniacally. If someone offered you or me 500K to say a few words, we’d say no thank you. But, to be fair, the Clintons had been in debt before. She may have had no more insidious a desire than to provide for the future. And run for president. And continue working in public service even on the days she had walking pneumonia. Go figure.
But how, you ask, can I defend her emails, the pièce de résistance. Can you even persuade yourself that you care whether she mistakenly or even intentionally used a private… I’m too bored to finish the sentence. And wiping correspondence using software such as BleachBit is standard government protocol.
By the way, thousands of this woman’s private messages were made public. In what was a disgusting violation of privacy and horrifying on several levels. Despite this, the Trump campaign had to clutch at straws to string a scandal together. If as many as ten of my emails were made public, all the relationships in my life would dissolve within minutes. The common thread is not that Clinton has been repeatedly found guilty of unspeakable transgressions but that she has been accused of everything under the sun.
And at this point I honestly don’t care if it turns out Killary kills kittens, because if she does you did not have that information at your disposal during the 2016 election. You know, when you thought she was “just as bad” as a KKK-endorsed sexual predator. So I would still need you to break down your reasoning. Using real, grown-up evidence. Not a YouTube video.
We’re talking about a person who began her career at age 23 working at the Children’s Defence Fund and campaigning against racial segregation long before any of us claimed to know her. A renegade feminist who refused to take her husband’s last name until America insisted upon it.
And yet the US and the rest of the world mocked her for wanting to be Commander in Chief, mocked her for being unlikeable, mocked her for wanting people to like her (that one’s harsh). And now they mock her for losing to Donald Trump after they spent twelve months perpetuating the narrative that she was a satanic bitch at worst and boring at best.
History should never forgive us for the way we collectively treated her. Think Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson times a thousand. She will, because she has superhuman patience, but history shouldn’t.
It will cast a stern eye on the alt-right base that called for her to be “hanged” and elected a lunatic so they could enjoy the catharsis of watching a fast-changing world burn. It will cast a sterner eye still, perhaps, on the straight, white, educated, ‘Bernie or Bust’ bros and post-menopausal Hollywood actresses who, in an effort to downplay their white privilege, clung to some obscure self-righteousness in abstaining from voting or opting for a third-party candidate over “politics as usual”.
No coincidence that this faction of voters now has the luxury of going on with their lives in relative safety after they threw fertile women, minorities, Muslims, immigrants and the LGBT community under the bus for their cause. And did this brand of so-called progressives show remorse as Donald Trump was shown around the White House? No, of course not. They said it should have been Bernie and called for Michelle Obama 2020.
Give me a break. Putting forward a female saviour who never asked to be in the running is the epitome of the aggressive chauvinism that just gave agency to unhinged white supremacy. Yes, the First Lady is a graceful queen of all things wonderful, but so is the woman you didn’t deign to support, despite her being the most painstakingly prepared and overly qualified candidate to ever run for the presidency.
Unlike Mrs Obama, who was brought into the public sphere temporarily and in support of her spouse, Clinton has worked tirelessly as a public servant of her own volition for thirty years. Meaning most of what she has ever said and done is on the record. You don’t judge Mrs Obama not because she is perfect but because she has not put herself in the line of fire. You have faith in Mrs Obama not because she is without fault but because she has never had the audacity to ask for power.
And as Barack Obama pointed out, while we admire ambition in men, we do not trust it in women. We feel they must be hiding something. This double standard and warping of reality is perverted. It is the modern day political equivalent of idolising purity and subservience whilst rejecting and demonising any woman brazen enough to want the same as the man beside her.
So let me take the liberty now of speaking on behalf of womankind when I tell you, you can relax. When we talk about wanting to break glass ceilings, we’re talking about equal opportunity, not a desire to grab the shattered shards and shank you with them.
I can promise you that a lady boss is not more dangerous than a man who brags about assault. A man whose Vice President once tried to pass a bill forcing women to hold funerals for the babies they aborted and who will do his best to repeal Roe v. Wade. A man whose chief strategist has overseen the publishing of articles including, ‘Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?’ and ‘Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy’.
This type of sentiment – the belief that women should not overstep their bounds; that they are unbalanced, untrustworthy – is the reason Clinton will only ever win the popular vote on paper. So here’s hoping that over the next few months, humanity can recover some of its dignity and grace. And if it’s struggling, I know who has some to spare.