Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton

I'll likely be voting for Hillary Clinton in November. I'm not happy about it, but Trump. Florida's a swing state, the polls are (currently) showing the two neck and neck, there just isn't another choice right now. I'd vote for Richard Nixon if he was standing as Trump's opponent right now. I'd even vote for George W. Bush. And God bless you (figuratively, I'm an atheist...) if you're a Republican reading this and feel like you have to vote for Clinton too.

Is Hillary Clinton bad though? I'm not impressed by her, though I think my reasons have... evolved over the last few months. She's often thought of as the establishment, right wing, candidate, and I'm not actually sure that's true. Oh, don't get me wrong, she has wide support from the US political establishment, especially right now.

Is Clinton actually right wing? My evolved view is that she's not, but that doesn't make her liberal either. Clinton can be relied upon to do the right thing, but only once it's popular and politically acceptable. She supported gay marriage, after it became clearly acceptable, but not a moment sooner. She changed her mind over the Iraq War... when everyone else did.

That doesn't mean she's evolved, alas it means she doesn't have much of an agenda, one way or another. Possibly the most extreme example of this was when she went the other way in the early nineties. Faced with calls from Black community leaders to do something about the deteriorating conditions, poverty, and resultant high crime in those areas, she and her husband adopted a package of proposals to solve the problem. The package was then ripped to shreds by the usual political process, until it became merely an extreme, draconian, and inhumane set of proposals to semi-permanently imprison high profile criminals in those communities. Both Clintons continued to support it, despite it no longer solving the problem it was designed to solve, and the consequences were predictable and devastating.

Her current views on the legalization of drugs also offer a parallel. The ban on pot has severe humanitarian consequences, and on the face of it, there's no real reason to continue with it. That's not the consensus within the country however, though there is a consensus to allow people to use it as a painkiller.

So Clinton supports the partial legalization of pot, purely for medicinal reasons. Is this a good thing? Well, is dividing pot users (an entirely blameless group who cause no harm per-se) into the "deserving" and the "punishable" a good thing for society?

Clinton is, ultimately, a politician. She's not so much interested in improving society as gaining power for its own sake. Discussions of her that describe her as a liberal or conservative aren't constructive, because ultimately, she will act with whatever side can force the country to have a consensus, or not act at all.

Her philosophy is more of a variant of FDR's famous line 'I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it'. She wants you to make her do it, but actually she doesn't agree or disagree with you, and she certainly doesn't care about doing it or not.

What about Clinton position as an establishment candidate? Again, this is a misunderstanding of who she is and where she stands. Both Clintons actually have a great deal in common with Trump, except unlike Trump they at least partially won the battle to be recognized as competent by the political elites.

The Clintons certainly weren't establishment figures in 1993 and the difficulties they had progressing forward were reflected in that. For eight years, they endured constant and hysterical attacks from the Republicans and from the political media. They were given reluctant support by much of the liberal Democratic establishment, but many of their strongest critics had a (D) after their names.

Those attacks have never really let up, not even after the Presidency. A sizable amount of the media continues to plug every hare brained conspiracy invented by any of her critics as worthy of consideration long after it became clear that virtually all of them have no basis in reality.

Hillary Clinton is also a woman, and that almost certainly colors her view of her position within the largely male dominated political establishment. Whatever recognition she may have gained, it's unlikely she feels like an insider.

To that end, I suspect Clinton's reluctance to adopt clear, positive, progressive policy making is probably related to her "outsider" position - she doesn't want to alienate an establishment that is itching to kick her out.

I, personally, don't want her as a President. I want someone with a heart, and I don't see one beating when it comes to Clinton. But at the same time, I can't say it'll be the end of the world if she's elected.