Editor’s column: Hillary can’t heal the Divided States of America
I’ve been writing for the last few weeks about presidential politics in the early going of the 2016 campaign, and can’t conclude the series (I know, you were hoping I’d cover all 22 candidates) without writing about Hillary Clinton.
The well-financed, supposedly inevitable Democratic nominee is an uninspiring candidate who, as I said earlier, might be the best thing the Republicans have going for them next year.
Her candidacy, unless grassroots Democrats reject her as they did in 2008, strikes me as destined to be an unenthusiastic trudge to defeat and Republican control of both the White House and Congress.
While I admire John Kasich and Bernie Sanders for not switching around like weather vanes depending on what the polls say, I have trouble figuring out what Hillary really stands for.
She’s a liberal, for sure, but voted for the war with Iraq out of political consideration for a future presidential bid. (As it was that only a Republican, Nixon, could open ties with China because no Democrat dared to be seen as soft on Communism, Hillary must take tough foreign policy stands lest she face sexist whispers about her ability to be tough.)
In 2008, she battled to avoid running as “the woman,” but this year, she’s glad to be a grandma and the potential first female U.S. president. I suspect her polling tells her this is a strong suit.
(Just to be on the record with this, it’s embarrassing that this country has not seen women as potential presidents. Perhaps that speaks to the root of our troubles.)
Regarding Hillary specifically, I believed Bill Clinton when he said he would fight for people who worked hard and played by the rules. I believe his wife will fight hard to make the rules work for big donors. He was the man from Hope, with humble beginnings; now the family is firmly entrenched in American dynastic politics.
Her nomination will mean months of television commercials about Benghazi, a parable for American politics today that will distract us from actual issues. News flash: Our installations in hostile places are sometimes attacked. Benghazi was a tragedy not nearly so deadly as the Marine barracks bombing in Libya when Ronald Reagan was president. But there was no equivalent in 1983 of Fox News to exploit those 300 deaths (242 Americans, 58 French) for political gain.
The email server question strikes me as a much more real issue, a simply bad idea that could have compromised national security.
With numerous critical issues facing the United States, among the most serious is the bitter partisan split that has gridlocked Washington and divided us as Americans.
Hillary Clinton is not the person who will bridge that rift.
She merely rolled through Glenwood Springs en route to her airplane after a fundraiser in Aspen early this month and the story about it generated more vitriol on our website than any other this year.
She didn’t start this viciousness, and she’s hardly alone among candidates who wouldn’t be able to effectively address it. Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Scott Walker — the list of non-uniters is long.
Fox News, MSNBC and others — many others — foment and benefit from the discord that rose during Bill Clinton’s presidency and has only worsened. Clinton was the first president targeted by a well-financed television network that is a propaganda machine disguised as a news organization.
The unending criticism only got worse with W. as left-wing websites such as Daily Kos and Salon, joined by MSNBC’s shift to being Fox’s counterpoint, battered him. I know; he deserved it. Go ahead and write the letter.
As the Internet proliferated in our lives, more sites on both sides joined the fray, and Obama has been savaged like no commander in chief.
The anti-Bush letter referenced above will be offset by one about how Obama is a Muslim socialist. As I said, no president has been vilified as he has.
The fact is, our political division has gotten so bad that I couldn’t write a single sentence about our twice-duly-elected president without drawing the ire of one side or the other.
Our division is so bad that a presidential candidate who is a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady — pretty clearly a potential terror target who needs law enforcement protection — can’t travel in a low-key, four-vehicle motorcade without being called middle-school names on a news website and being criticized by the Republican sheriff as acting “entitled.”
So we treat our leaders and would-be leaders like crap and then expect them to unite us. That’s a storm cloud over this presidential race and the country, and it’s on us.
We have let screaming radio hosts, biased websites and ridiculously profitable cable networks make us forget that we first are Americans. We all have far, far more common interests than we have differences, and we wouldn’t really have to look hard to realize that.
Liberals aren’t libtards and conservatives aren’t fascists — though forces that profit from it seek to drive us there.
That doesn’t make Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump good candidates, but I hope we collectively find a way to remember our common cause as we choose our next leader.
Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.
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