On Hating Hillary

There’s an interesting post by someone who doesn’t understand all the vitriol that Hillary is catching from the liberals who should be part of her base. I think the author has missed the boat, however.

There are two candidates in this race who are saying that the US American political system is broken.

One is Bernie Sanders. His claim is that money has corrupted politics to the point that we are becoming — or have already become — a plutocracy with decorative democratic trappings, where the real economic and political systems are rigged in favor of the extremely wealthy. If we want to have any kind of real democracy in the future, now is the time to speak up, because the options are slipping away permanently even as we watch on television.

The other is Donald Trump. His claim is that the problem is Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks, Chinese, cripples, liberals, the politically-correct, and not nearly enough war, torture, and autocracy emanating from the White House. He’ll personally fix everything and make America great again. Trust him.

But these two both agree, and say out loud, that the system is broken.

None of the other candidates, including Hillary, seems to believe that the system is broken, or even that there is anything particularly wrong with it. They all call for incremental change to what they seem to see as a centrist, traditional, entirely functional government; a government that is perhaps going through a bit of a rough patch right now, but will inevitably right itself as it always does.

For those of us who believe, rightly or wrongly, that the system is in fact seriously broken and in danger of slipping away entirely, and who are horrified by what we have seen the US become in the last forty years, particularly the last ten, there are really only four ways to view Hillary.

  1. We are simply wrong. There really is nothing wrong with the US government, or the US economy. We’ve been listening to horror stories from the sensationalist media outlets, whether it’s the Daily Kos or Fox News, and we are — frankly — only a half-step removed from wearing tin-foil hats to keep the CIA from altering our brain waves. Hillary is the only credible candidate, and Sanders and Trump are both demagogues playing to our baseless fears. We need to get some therapy, and get over it.
  2. We are right to be horrified by the US political system, but it really hasn’t changed in the last forty years, or the past two hundred — we’ve simply grown up beyond our golden childhood view of America, and have come to realize that politics is a barnyard full of manure, as it has always been, as it will always be. Hillary is the best candidate, the quintessential, experienced adult, someone willing to go out and muck the barn, today, tomorrow, and the next day. Sanders is an idealistic fool, and Trump is a fascist demagogue. We need to finish growing up, get used to the smell of manure, and get on with life as adults.
  3. We are right to be horrified by the US political system, and Hillary — for whatever reason — simply doesn’t see the problem. She has become like George H. W. Bush during the 1992 debates, when Bill Clinton offered his election-winning zinger, “It’s the economy, stupid.” GHW Bush — a white, cultured, educated, wealthy, well-connected, hereditary player in the Washington system — had become so disconnected from America that he was, or at least seemed to be, genuinely clueless about what most people were experiencing in the country he served during twelve years of stagflation and economic and political scandal. Hillary is likewise clueless, and by the time she figures it out — if she ever does — she’ll be a lame duck at the end of her last year as president. Sanders is the only credible choice, and Trump is a fascist demagogue.
  4. We are right to be horrified by the US political system, and Hillary is a corrupt tool of the system, and part of the problem. She’s bought and paid-for; whatever rationalizations she uses to sleep at night are her problem, and should not become ours. Hillary is no better than Jeb Bush, no different from Jeb Bush, and is not a viable candidate at all. Sanders is the obvious choice, and Trump is a fascist demagogue.

The liberals who hate Hillary fall, I suspect, into category #4.

Very few people will accept that they belong to category #1, of course, even if they do belong to category #1. It’s worth mentioning for completeness, but no one is going to admit to belonging here.

I could probably be talked into category #2. I grew up with a much rosier view of US history, and of human herd instinct, than I’ve developed in more recent years. I have to say, though, category #2 makes it very hard to vote, or even care what becomes of the barnyard.

But I actually fall somewhere between #3 and #4. I know a little bit about how confirmation bias works, and how people fall in with other people who agree with them and then conform to the group. There isn’t a lot of moral struggle that actually occurs on the slide into corruption: you simply adopt the attitudes of your peer group, avoid censure, bask in the praise. You accept and repeat the most common rationalizations, and your peers nod thoughtfully and smile and make you feel like you said something smart and relevant. You come to feel you are doing right, and if it’s less than perfect, well, for God’s sake, you’re only human.

So I don’t think there’s really a lot of difference between #3 and #4 in practice. It’s why I don’t hate Hillary.

But I don’t trust her.

It isn’t that I think she’s “untrustworthy” in some abstract sense, and I certainly don’t think she answers to corporate overlords whose minions drop into her office and remind her that she owes them favors, then tell her what she’s going to do next. That’s how things work in the X-Files, which is television fiction. It isn’t how things work in real life.

I don’t trust her judgement.

There’s the interview with Bill Moyers where Elizabeth Warren talks about her experience talking with First Lady Clinton about the bankruptcy bill the Republicans pushed through Congress, where she praises Hillary for her quick grasp of the horrors of the law being proposed, and then comments on Hillary’s flip-flop on essentially the same bill as a Senator only a few years later.

What struck me was not Hillary’s flip-flop, but that Warren had to explain this to Hillary in the first place.

We have here a bankruptcy bill drafted by the banks, and people representing the banks. Bankruptcy law is more correctly called “bankruptcy protection law,” and its whole purpose is to protect individuals who are over their heads in debt from having banks do horrible things to them — things that banks used to do quite commonly before there were such bankruptcy protection laws in the US.

So if a bank were to come to me with a new bill that proposes changes to bankruptcy law, I would immediately suspect that this bill removes protections that prevent banks from doing horrible things to people to increase their profits — harvesting organs, selling children into slavery, imposing indentured servitude, or perhaps more subtle things. I would expect a person of good judgement to seek out people like Elizabeth Warren, and ask bluntly, “What’s wrong with this bill? Tell me what I’m not seeing.” I would even expect a person of good judgement to seek out people who have an axe to grind with the banks, to see if they can make a solid argument against the proposed law.

This is what Franklin Roosevelt used to do. He’d pull in experts with widely varying opinions, and he’d put them in a room together and make them argue. He would sit and listen to their arguments. There were reportedly a great many tempers lost during these arguments. But some of the best ideas in the history of the US came out of this.

That apparently did not happen with the Clintons and the bankruptcy bill.

In the 1990’s, Hillary pushed hard for an early version of universal health care, based on the HMO model. I’d been involved as a patient in HMO care in the 1980’s, and it was utter shit. There is nothing good to say for what I experienced. This was obvious to anyone who had ever dealt with an actual 1980’s HMO. This should have been obvious to anyone at all simply from the stated objective of the HMO model, which was to act as a barrier to patient care. Hillary wanted to make this HMO model the law of the land, based on the recommendations of a few corporate tools who worked at for-profit health insurers. It was such bad judgement that the stink of it has followed Hillary to this day.

In 2003, Senator Clinton stampeded with the herds on the Iraq war. Hillary is clearly well-received by the biggest banks, which caused the 2008 meltdown. She’s recently cited Henry Kissinger as a trusted resource.

I think there’s a pattern here. I think Hillary is particularly vulnerable to confirmation bias, based on her absolute trust in “her people.” I think this leads her into making very bad judgements.

So I have to ask, what will Hillary do if the for-profit prison industry comes to her with recommendations for expanding their business model? What will she do if the banks come to her and pitch privatization of Social Security? What will she do if policy analysts from some neocon think-tank propose war with Iran? What will she do when arms dealers push for dropping nuclear weapons on terrorists in Afghanistan, and then tell her that, as a woman, she doesn’t have the cojones for the job?

I don’t hate Hillary. But I don’t trust her judgement at all.

This entry was posted in General.

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