Politicians frequently gerrymander their own policies, “calculate” or “tailor” them if you prefer, in order to compete for a particular coalition of voters or to establish credentials for the occasion of greater ambition. By now, the Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton, owing to a lengthy career in politics, including her participation in the career of her controversial husband, has probably muddied the museum of her viewpoints by pledging support for a sufficient number of leaky, contradictory, or even baldly conservative stances. Swing, centrist, and left-of-center voters who vote Hillary must be trusting in the sense that she represents, however tepidly, the inclusive space where most Americans would probably situate themselves. We say “must be trusting” because her campaign hasn’t done enough to define her core values, hasn’t done enough to establish her as a likable candidate, and hasn’t done enough to defeat allegations of dishonesty frequently recited by her polarizing opponent, Donald Trump. The “Crooked Hillary” sticker, which Trump coined early in his battle to win the Republican nomination, functions best when her foe doesn’t supply verification. “Crooked Hillary” this, he says, “Crooked Hillary” that, “Crooked Hillary” universe. Trump also scores points by portraying the Democrat nominee as being mired in the ineffective politics of the past, and establishing himself as the agent for rescuing America from its purported economic and cultural decline. In her two campaigns for president, Hillary has somehow failed to establish herself—herself, a woman, set against more than two hundred years of male presidencies—as the change candidate, even as Trump’s profane orientation toward women has provided the Democrat with ample material for television commercials and reprimands during the debates.
Yet the case for Hillary begins, finally, with the debates. She out-pointed her opponent for all three of them, including the third contest, during which Trump, arguably, presented himself in improved fashion. When we say “she won”, we mean she demonstrated broad knowledge—a command—of various issues, as opposed to Trump, who periodically seemed lost when it came to the inconvenience of details. Often times, Trump projected annoyance or poor sportsmanship. In the case of the second debate, the town hall setting where the candidates were free to roam the stage, he famously loomed around Hillary, lending additional credence to the growing legend of his gender-specific hostility. The stalking, harrumphing, acerbic Trump radiated bullying energy, in how he tried to dominate Clinton’s televised image by virtue of his larger body. It was then, especially, when Hillary wouldn’t rattle, and the toughness she exhibited, the mettle, might reassure wobbly voters of how she might comport herself on the world stage, among the likes of Vladimir Putin, a character whose ties to this election—and potentially to Trump himself—continue to be lightly investigated. The amount of scrutiny heaped upon Clinton’s shadowy but otherwise innocuous email server ought to be refocused on the alleged links between Putin and cyber-crime, including the strongman’s reputed interest in sabotaging the presidential contest. Trump’s own mysterious comments in calling for Russia to hack into, or hack further into Clinton’s emails, ought to raise the specter of collusion. If nothing else, it’s a strange thing to have said in the first place. Of course, the Republican candidate has numbed the American public with his flair for theatrical commentary, and the route to defeating him won’t be accomplished through mere criticism. Trump’s supporters have made peace with his unending capacity for indecency.
Democrats ultimately chose Hillary as the party’s representative despite the insurgent appeal of Bernie Sanders, a candidate whose identifiable anti-corporate message easily attracted young voters, liberals, and independents. In denying Sanders, the party establishment really flexed its musculature, and by “musculature”, we mean the big-donor throwback apparatus of the democrat machine, even in a cycle when many voting blocs hungered for the fresh territory of a political outsider. Enter Trump, who easily and angrily vanquished a host of well-funded, flabby Republican hopefuls, many of whom denounce him, to this day. In the course of consolidating his power, Trump battled many additional Republican icons, including John McCain, the unlikely recipient of a scathing Trump attack. When Trump faulted McCain for being captured by the Vietcong—“I like people who weren’t captured,” went the quote—he unthinkingly called into question the service of countless heroic members of the armed services. Consider the roughly 23,000 American troops captured (or listed as missing) during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, a five-week winter counteroffensive launched by the retreating Germans that created a dangerous “bulge” in the Allied lines. Trump wouldn’t have liked those 23,000 soldiers, apparently, despite the fact that they aided in thwarting a vicious, desperate attempt by the Nazis to prolong the war and cause even more Allied casualties. The Republican nominee hasn’t served his country, of course. He was given a million dollars as a young man, and has spent his life, by all accounts, shamelessly multiplying it, and shamelessly bragging about it, as if that’s the highest single calling for an American.
The great American, Eleanor Roosevelt.
We at Blood And Gutstein supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and as Bernie did, we endorse Hillary Clinton for president. Should she prevail on Tuesday, when the country completes its voting, we hope that she’ll incorporate many of Bernie’s themes into her first term as president, as well as battle the obstructionist Republican-dominated Congress, should it prevail, too, on Tuesday, with all the vim and vigor she unleashed in the debates. Hillary doesn’t strike us as being the perfect candidate, but she is—by far—the best remaining candidate in the contest. If the nation elects her, then Democrats will have broken both the race and gender barriers in presidential elections, despite the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt was truly the first, if unelected, woman president of the United States.