In the 2016 presidential election, now more than ever there is a contest between the competing agendas of the Republican Party, most likely embodied by Donald Trump on the one hand and the Democrat agenda, likely to be embodied by Hillary Clinton on the other. The former calls out the ugliest, most selfish and worse impulses of Americans and would benefit vulture capitalists, the self-fish modern day Pharisees of the Chistofascist set, white supremacists (who have endorsed trump) and the wealthy and privileged. The middle and lower classes would continue on the road to a modern day version of economic serfdom as attacks on unions intensify and more wealth moves from the middle class to the 1%.
The Democrat agenda is starkly different and seeks to equalize the playing field and to give all Americans, not just the privileged few, a chance to pursue the American dream. It seeks to restore upward social mobility which now lags behind that achievable in Canada and Europe. Yes, "Old Europe" as the GOP derisively calls it, now offers more upward mobility than the USA. As I see it, while admittedly sounding melodramatic, it is a contest between good and evil, with today's GOP and its racist, homophobic, religious extremist agenda embodying a form of social evil that must be stopped. A piece in the Daily Beast looks at this contest and also the need to not fall for the anti-Hillary narrative that the GOP has disseminated for years and which sadly some of Bernie Sanders' followers have embraced. Yes, some readers will shriek and scream since I am not backing Sanders, but I remain unconvinced that he can win in November. Hillary withstood 11 hours of a GOP lynch mob during the Benghazi hearings. We need that toughness in the coming months. Here are some column highlights:
I hear you’re still not Ready for Hillary. I get it. I didn’t start off as her biggest fan either. During the 2008 campaign, I wrote plenty of less-than-complimentary words about Hillary Clinton in my role as Barack Obama’s speechwriter. Then, a few weeks after the election, I had a well-documented run-in with a piece of cardboard that bore a striking resemblance to the incoming Secretary of State.It was one of the stupider, more disrespectful mistakes I’ve made, . . . I had the chance to serve in the Obama administration with someone who was far different than the caricature I had helped perpetuate. . . . . She worked harder and logged more miles than anyone in the administration, including the president. And she’d spend large amounts of time and energy on things that offered no discernible benefit to her political future—saving elephants from ivory poachers, listening to the plight of female coffee farmers in Timor-Leste, defending LGBT rights in places like Uganda.
Most of all—and you hear this all the time from people who’ve worked for her—Hillary Clinton is uncommonly warm and thoughtful. She surprises with birthday cakes. She calls when a grandparent passes away. She once rearranged her entire campaign schedule so a staffer could attend her daughter’s preschool graduation. Her husband charms by talking to you; Hillary does it by listening to you—not in a head-nodding, politician way; in a real person way.
This same story has repeated itself throughout Clinton’s career: those who initially view her as distrustful and divisive from afar find her genuine and cooperative in person. It was the case with voters in New York, Republicans in the Senate, Obama people in the White House, and heads of state all over the world. There’s a reason being America’s chief diplomat was the specific job Obama asked Hillary to do—she has the perfect personality for it.
You don’t often see or read about this side of Hillary. You don’t doubt her fierce brilliance when she’s debating policy with Bernie Sanders. You don’t doubt her stamina or tenacity when she’s sitting through hour eleven of the Benghazi Kangaroo Court. But when it comes to nearly everything else, Clinton can seem a little too cautious and forced—like she’s trying too hard or not at all, preferring to retreat behind the safety of boilerplate rhetoric and cheesy soundbites. It’s a tendency that can’t just be blamed on her opponents or the media, though I wonder how many of us would be so brave and open in our public personas after being subjected to 25 years of unrelenting and downright nasty criticism of what we say, what we do, and how we look. . . . Recently, though, there are signs that Hillary is finding this courage.
If nothing else, you’ll notice that Hillary Clinton’s words are the very antithesis of the mean-spirited, xenophobic bile that spits from the mouth of Donald Trump. And that’s my point. Every election is a competition between two stories about America. And Trump already knows his by heart: He is a celebrity strongman who will single-handedly save the country from an establishment that is too weak, stupid, corrupt, and politically correct to let us blame the real source of our problems—Muslims and Mexicans and Black Lives Matter protesters; the media, business, and political elites from both parties. Trump’s eventual opponent will need to tell a story about America that offers a powerful rebuke to the demagogue’s dark vision for the future.
I like Bernie Sanders. I like a lot of what he has to say, I love his idealism, and I believe deeply in his emphasis on grassroots change. My problem is not that his message is unrealistic—it’s that a campaign which is largely about Main St. vs. Wall St. economics is too narrow and divisive for the story we need to tell right now. In her campaign against Sanders, Hillary has begun to tell that broader, more inclusive story about the future.
Hillary Clinton isn’t perfect. She isn’t flashy or entertaining. She isn’t cool or hip, so please stop forcing the poor woman to learn the Dab on Ellen. As someone who’s been in politics for a few decades, she’s made plenty of mistakes, and will probably make many more.
But Hillary is also more than just a policy wonk who can’t wait to start shuffling through white papers in the Oval Office. She cares. She tries. She perseveres. And now she has a chance to tell the story she’s always wanted about America: the story about a country that found the courage to turn away from our darkest impulses; that chose to embrace our growing diversity as a strength, not a weakness; that pushed the boundaries of opportunity outward and upward, until there are no more barriers, and no more ceilings.
At stake in this election is control of a Tea Party-run Congress, at least one Supreme Court vacancy that could tip the balance for a generation, and the very real chance that a highly unstable demagogue could become the 45th president of the United States. So while I may not have imagined myself saying this a few years ago, I certainly believe it now: It’s far more important to elect Hillary Clinton in 2016 than it was to elect Barack Obama in 2008.
Like the author, I did not support Hillary in 2008, and instead backed Barack Obama. The contrast between the GOP agenda and the Obama agenda was stark in 2008, but the differences in what the nation's future may be depending on which party wins the White House in 2016 is even more extreme now. Like her or not, if you believe in a positive future for all Americans (including my grandchildren), we need to make sure Hillary is elected in November. We cannot allow the GOP to spread its cancer further and pervert the United States Supreme Court for a generation or more.