A 2016 Voter’s Post Mortem: Think Independently in 2020

A thoughtful old friend challenged my frustration regarding the DNC’s choice of candidate in 2016. My thoughts follow, skipping the part where I accuse him of assigning other folks’ thoughts to me.

What did everyone hate so much about Hillary? Now, look at where you got that impression. Most people who really “hated” her were duped by 20 years of Republican propaganda. Many were willing to buy that propaganda because of misogyny. Don’t think the term applies? What else do you call the double standard by which the same trait that results in a man being called ‘strong’ gets a woman called “controlling?”

My friend, I certainly agree with you that she’s strong, and has that necessary quality for presidential leadership. She’s also a — what do they call that? oh yeah — a reader.

Back when we were friends in college, I was more susceptible to the propaganda you describe, but in the opposite direction. After my disappointing disillusionment with the Carter administration, Ronald Reagan was the first presidential candidate I was old enough to vote for, and I happily did so, twice. But it was during his second term, when he denuded the FCC of its authority over news agencies that my excellent mass media graduate school professor foresaw the coming of Roger Ailes, MSNBC, and the like, that I began to put that together with the Carter experience and understand that enthusiasm for a political ideology simply doesn’t work. I’ve been an Independent, with Conservative friends convinced I’m a Liberal and vice-versa, ever since.

I find topic-driven voters rare. On the other hand, the party faithful are plentiful, and most of them can’t imagine there being any other way to think. They’ll cling to the flawed people in their ideological camp. The current president, who said in a 1998 interview with NBC’s Stone Phillips, “[I’m] liberal on health care, we have to take care of people that are sick…I like universal [health coverage], we have to take care, there’s nothing else. What’s the country all about if we’re not going to take care of our sick?” And, on abortion, “I’m totally for choice. I think you have no alternative” is simply the most extreme example (albeit the most extreme by far) is the result of this problem on both sides.

Trump’s existence as an RNC-nominated candidate is far, far more of a demonstration of reductio ad absurdum than Clinton is from the DNC. But even if you’re objective enough to observe Trump holding the far extreme, I think it’s difficult to argue that they both don’t exist in this space. I’ve watched Clinton’s disturbing lack of hubris, her inability to authentically apologize, her capacity for cover-up, and other trust-straining qualities throughout my adult life. For me, it was watching her behavior during the Whitewater investigation that made me consider her ineligible for high office, and brought me the sense of waiting for a shoe to drop during every moment of her time as Sec’y of State (though it is difficult to ignore her many achievements during her tenure there, even if many Conservatives manage to).

So no, I don’t feel hornswoggled by Conservative propaganda. While I’ve voted for many on national and local stages, I haven’t found a worthwhile Republican White House seeker since George H.W. (and I wasn’t too sure about him, at the time I pulled the lever for him). I’ll add that, were Trump involved in Whitewater (which, again, I consider to be both Clintons’ most egregious evasions, with Hillary’s duplicity and obfuscation outshining even that of her husband, which is saying quite something) it would be so distant and diminished among the Teflon Mad King’s repertoire of skulduggery as to be unnoticeable.

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