With all this recent talk about Hillary Clinton’s health, her “basket of deplorables” remark, and her virtual tie in the polls with Earth’s favorite half-orangutan, half-real estate mogul Donald Trump, it’s difficult to remember that a little over a year ago, everyone believed that the former First Lady had the 2016 presidential race in the bag.
Who is Hillary Rodham Clinton? From being a bright, vivacious, and prominent lawyer who was involved in the radical fight for equal rights in the 60’s and 70’s, the wife of one of the most popular political figures of the 20th century, a former senator from the state of New York, the former Secretary of State–take your pick. The woman is tailor-made for a spot behind the desk in the Oval Office.
So why is she not sweeping the floor with a broom made from the leftover wisps of Trump’s “hair?” There are more than a few reasons, and many, if not most of them, are of her (or her campaign’s) own doing.
Honesty and Transparency
As a card-carrying, bleeding-heart, die-hard liberal, even I can admit that Hillary Clinton sometimes has a problem with telling the whole truth. Now, do these statements ever amount to anything incredibly important or consequential? No, they don’t. With Benghazi, arguably her most upsetting “scandal,” having been determined to have not been her fault, the most serious allegations against the former Secretary of State seem to be far in the rearview.
But to many people on the left and the right, the fact that her half-truths hold little weight or consequence is exactly what makes them so offensive. Why not be as open and transparent as possible with the American people?
Hillary’s obfuscation of her past remarks, flip-flopping on important issues without acknowledging her past stances, and telling half-truths about other candidates (specifically Bernie Sanders) have hurt her campaign deeply, especially in an age where videos and statements from 20 years ago can be pulled up in a microsecond. Examples of these include:
- Her positions for/against NAFTA.
- Her tepid support for the “Fight for $15” movement.
- Her claim that she, nor anyone else, has never ran a negative ad against Bernie Sanders.
- Her decision to not release the transcripts of the speeches she gave to large banks and other financial institutions.
- Her “evolution” on marriage equality.
- Her dig at Bernie Sanders on his involvement in the fight for healthcare in the early 90’s.
All of these things and more make Clinton a confusing choice for many, especially younger voters. In the spotlight for decades now, Clinton has a public record that reaches back farther than many voters have been alive. With phones in everyone’s pockets and Twitter constantly fact-checking candidates in real time, someone like Hillary cannot afford to be caught saying something contrary to her past positions without at least acknowledging that she has changed her mind.
Not to be mixed in with right-wing conspiracies about syphilis, body doubles, or worse, Hillary’s health has become an issue of concern as well. Not only because the president needs to be healthy to be able to do the job, but also because getting specific answers about Clinton’s health from her own campaign can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. See our own Justin Horner’s article about the 9/11 memorial pneumonia debacle here.
It is important to read and understand the above while also knowing that Donald Trump’s record on honesty and transparency is worse. Much worse.
Those Damn Emails
Confidential information. The Secretary of State. The FBI. The Clinton email scandal has been rocking around Washington D.C. (and most of our grandparents’ Facebook pages) for some time now. After hearings, subpoenas, investigations, interviews, and everything else you can think of, Hillary Clinton will definitely not be facing any criminal charges over her use of a private email server.
But that doesn’t mean this controversy is over, folks. Just recently we saw the former Secretary of State Colin Powell get thrown into the fray. While it does seem that Powell legitimized the use of a private email server, two wrongs don’t make a right. Regardless of her predecessor’s actions, keeping a private server with anything on it that wasn’t private business was objectively wrong and potentially dangerous. And with Trump’s tendency to never let anything go, he’s going to continue to remind his thousands of adoring fans that it was.
This leads us to the real meat and potatoes of this election cycle…
The Internet Strikes Back
Oh, Wikileaks. What would the 21st century be like without you?
Starting with the DNC email leaks from earlier in this election cycle, Julian Assange and crew have proven themselves to be determined to reveal what they perceive to be corruption, no matter the cost. This, coupled with the fact that Assange has been openly critical of Clinton and the DNC, has hung over the Clinton campaign like a dark cloud for months now.
With the addition of Colin Powell’s emails the public is getting an extremely personal look into the figures we, in the past, have rarely gotten a close view of. From gossip to important briefings, Wikileaks has made it its mission to expose any and all possible corruption, some would say regardless of the potential blowback.
In an incredibly disturbing leak which showed the Obama administration appointed its campaign’s largest donors to positions in the administration, many (rightfully) worry that while Clinton talks about income equality, her party regularly rewards large donors with important position and influence.
Millennials still “feel the Bern.”
What is perhaps Clinton’s biggest weakness is sadly her likability. With large swaths of voters on the right and the left considering her to be untrustworthy, robotic, or even calculating, Clinton has an uphill battle to fight in order to connect with the average voter on a personal level. Being a multi-millionaire who has been known worldwide for almost three decades, Clinton is not ever going to be able to convince 99% of the voting population that she is like them. And that is fine. It really, really is. What she needs to do is convince us that she cares about us.
Ironically, this is what her former primary opponent Bernie Sanders did so well. By coming across as genial, trustworthy, and sincere, Sanders captured a large portion of the left with relative ease and almost no corporate donations.
But if her supporters’ strongest argument is going to be “Hey, at least she’s not Donald Trump,” then she has a real chance of losing this election.