Little Things That Make Me Like Hillary Clinton (More Than I Already Did)

My cards are on the table at this point: I like Hillary Clinton. I think she’ll make a damn good president if she wins (which is looking good at this point). But in addition to her issues and her experience and her general capableness for the job, there’s something else that keeps happening as I learn more about her and her campaign: I keep learning about little things she’s done that make me like her more. They’re not the massive, media-blitzing actions of a campaign. They’re just the little things that you see here and there that suggest someone who has put together an operation that genuinely cares about people. I really appreciate that in a candidate and campaign.

Here are a few of those things.

Her website has a form where the “gender” field is a free-form text input. Follow that link to see why that’s important in more detail, but suffice to say: it’s very significant for nonbinary trans people, and I don’t think it’s because she expects to win on the strength of the Tumblr vote.

Her website also has a form where the “prefix” (aka “honorific”) field includes options for “Other”, and “Mx.” in addition to the usual “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Dr.”, etc. Same as the gender text input, this is a significant deal for people who don’t fit into the options traditionally provided.

I strongly suspect that her campaign is the first in history to do either of the above.

Her website is designed to be accessible to low-vision and colorblind users. The accessibility of the web may or may not be something that you have to think about day-to-day, but things like this are a big deal for a lot of web users. Being inclusive in this way matters, and it suggests a care about people and an attention to detail that, suffice to say, not all candidates or campaigns have.

In 2010, she was responsible for quietly enacting a rule allowing trans people to change the gender on their passports without reassignment surgery. This in particular feels like a microcosm of why I like Clinton so much as a politician. If she can get shit done — if she can help someone more — by quietly changing something instead of loudly running on it, she does that.

This is why I tend to trust her as much as I do. I believe her when she talks about having public and private positions on things. I believe that’s true for most if not all politicians (seriously if you think this wasn’t the case for, for example, FDR, I have some news for you), and for non-politicians as well. For the most part, it’s just how people work. And in her case, in this case, I believe that she decided that keeping her opinion — that trans people deserve to be able to determine what gender goes on their passport without surgery — keeping her opinion on that relatively quiet at the time made it more likely she would succeed at accomplishing something real that changed people’s lives for the better. That rule change is a big deal for trans people. And she got it done before trans issues had become at all front and center in US politics, because she wanted to help someone.

She advocates for issues affecting autistic people by advocating for the things they actually want and need. This may not seem like a big deal if you’re not aware of how frequently “advocacy” by major organizations, parties, and campaigns tends to look like “doing what we think is best for you” instead of “doing what you actually say you want and need”. But it is.

It isn’t just the shift in emphasis that I applaud, but the language itself. The extreme, pathological language that usually surrounds autism is almost totally absent from Clinton’s proposal. The word “epidemic” doesn’t even occur once. “Disease” only occurs in reference to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oftentimes, autism is portrayed as a sort of tumor – an unpleasant, discrete growth that can be separated from its “host” and destroyed. The thing is, autism doesn’t work that way, and Clinton’s proposal doesn’t act like it does. She doesn’t talk about combating autism. Instead, she provides concrete ways to improve the lives of autistic Americans. I am delighted.

 

None of the things I’ve mentioned are the kinds of things that get national attention. But they all matter. In my opinion, they are all the actions of someone who cares about making change happen in the little ways that, while important, don’t make headlines. They make me feel more confident that the perceptions of those who know her and have worked with her are the accurate ones. I think that those people, who see her as an incredibly smart, capable, and caring person who wants to help others, are the ones whose impression of her is most accurate.

As you know, I liked her already. These things just make me like her a little more.

 


* If you want reasons to vote for her, check out Greta Christina’s posts about why to vote for her. If you want reasons to be skeptical of the coverage of her scandals, watch John Oliver’s coverage of them. If you think this election is as important as I do and want to help her win, this handy Chrome extension can suggest things to do to help, or you can just go to her website for events to volunteer at and/or a phone banking app you can use to do phone banking from home. And of course, make sure you register to vote and find your polling place.

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By ResearchToBeDone Posted in other

Hillary Clinton, Alexander Hamilton, and Propaganda

Something you may not know about Alexander Hamilton is that during his time as treasury secretary, he was accused of corruption constantly. He was accused of it for years on end, in ways that had little-to-nothing to do with his conduct and everything to do with politics.

On February 24, 1794, a committee full of his political opponents was formed to investigate his time at the treasury department, and pin whatever they could on him. Here’s how that turned out:

In its final report in late May, the Republican-dominated committee could not deliver the comeuppance it had craved. Instead, it confessed that all the charges lodged against Hamilton were completely baseless, as the treasury secretary had insisted all along.

Nevertheless, it frustrated him that after this exhaustive investigation his opponents still rehashed the stale charges of misconduct. He had learned a lesson about propaganda in politics and mused wearily that “no character, however upright, is a match for constantly reiterated attacks, however false.” If a charge was made often enough, people assumed in the end “that a person so often accused cannot be entirely innocent.”

Chernow, Ron (2005-03-29). Alexander Hamilton (pp. 456-457). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

When I read this, I couldn’t help but feel like it sounded eerily familiar.

While a lot of ink has been spilled over how GOP propaganda has created Trump’s base on denial of basic facts, there has been less talk about how the same forms of propaganda have impacted liberals. While it’s hard to find a liberal supporting Trump, it’s easy to find liberals who resent the hell out of Hillary Clinton.

People talk about her stealing the primary, about her dishonesty, about her corruption, about her being “basically a conservative”. Yet none of these claims seem nearly so clear-cut under scrutiny, and many (if not most) of them fall apart entirely with a closer look.

If decades of conservative propaganda paved the way for Trump, then decades of conservative propaganda also paved the way for the world’s current impression of Hillary Clinton.

People call her dishonest when she’s been rated more honest by Politifact than any other candidate who ran this year. People talk about her stealing the primary when she won it by a considerable margin on every conceivable metric. People talk about her e-mails, a “scandal” in which she has been investigated and found to have done nothing illegal, and which would barely register on the scandals-scale for any other politician.

Genuinely, the things that have passed as scandal for Clinton lately seem to do more to recommend her than to diminish her. The idea that this quote: “The people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry” is the worst thing anyone can find in her Wall Street speeches is telling. The idea that people think “Those in an industry should have a seat at the table” is the same as saying “Those in an industry should be totally self-regulating” speaks to the low level of nuance of the accusations, and to the credulity with which many of us are reading the accusations against her.

But, as Alexander Hamilton mused more than 200 years ago after his own Benghazi-esque investigation and exoneration, “no character, however upright, is a match for constantly reiterated attacks, however false.”

If you think Clinton being dishonest is a major problem for her, but you didn’t think it was a problem for Sanders, who has rated almost exactly the same level of honest as her (and that’s without having to go through all the trumped-up investigations she has), and who cried “scandal” at primary rules that have been the norm for decades, and at 100% standard responses to reports of compromised data, then you are susceptible to media propaganda as well. I say this as someone who liked Sanders’ platform and much of what he had to say.

Believing propaganda may be a problem that is worse among Trump supporters, but this isn’t just a Trump supporter thing. Liberals have been taken in by propaganda, too. I have been taken in by propaganda, too. My distrust of Hillary Clinton has only evolved into trust over a long period of reading details about each of the scandals that have been reported. It was only in reading the details that I found that most of them are meaningless and none of them are remarkable.

Is Hillary Clinton a perfect politician? No. Neither was Alexander Hamilton. But they have the shared experience of (A) being imperfect (A. Ham. having cheated on his wife and, while not engaging in corrupt dealings himself, certainly being lamentably blind to the corrupt dealings of someone under his direct employ), (B) being constantly accused of corruption in ways that were eventually revealed to be baseless, and (C) their exoneration making hardly a dent in the minds of people already convinced they were crooked. Yet in spite of his faults, we don’t look back and scorn Alexander Hamilton for being imperfect, we look back and celebrate him for being capable.

If you think “Well, there’s so much more to the accusations about Clinton”, you should understand that in Alexander Hamilton’s time, the papers were absolutely inundated with accusations against him of all kinds — accusations that sounded plausible if you took their version of things at face value. Much as the accusations against Clinton sound plausible if you take them at face value.

In my opinion, a refusal to vote for Hillary Clinton isn’t a protest against corruption, it is an endorsement of it. It is an endorsement of campaigns of baseless propaganda and a reinforcement of the idea that they can work wonders on people from any (or no) political party. Not just the party of Trump.

 


If you want more reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton, check out Greta Christina’s posts about why to vote for her. If you want reasons to be skeptical of the coverage of her scandals, watch John Oliver’s coverage of them. If you think this election is as important as I do and want to help her win, this handy Chrome extension can suggest things to do to help, or you can just go to her website for events to volunteer at and/or a phone banking app you can use to do phone banking from home. And of course, make sure you register to vote.

 

By ResearchToBeDone Posted in other

Hillary Clinton and Protest Votes

When I’ve heard people this election season talk about not voting, or voting third party, a lot of people talk about wanting to change things. Voting for the lesser evil, they say, will do nothing to change the system. How will we get real change to happen if we don’t rebel against the system that has made everything so fucked up to begin with?

And you’re right. Without work, nothing will change. The good news is, people are doing that work. There are activists and activist organizations all over the country working to improve the lives of citizens and to change the things that are fucked up about the system in which we live.

Real change happens slowly and with the combined efforts of thousands or millions of people. It is hard, and it is long-term.

And it is not going to happen if all of the people putting in that real work are in jail for having abortions. Or for peacefully protesting against police brutality, or for being politically inconvenient for those in power.

If Trump wins, your protest vote will put the people working hardest to change this country at tremendous risk. Refusing to vote for Clinton to stop Trump is not working to make the US better, it is being complicit in allowing it to become much, much worse. Whether you think Hillary Clinton will be a good president or not, there’s no reason to think she will overturn Roe vs. Wade, jail political opponents, or put up to 4 carbon-copies of Antonin Scalia on the supreme court.

The people working for real change: do you want them to be able to continue that work or not? Do you want them to be organizing initiatives to save lives, or in jail for having abortions? Do you want real change? Then you need to do everything you can to stop Trump, and that includes voting for Hillary Clinton.

 


If you want more reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton, check out Greta Christina’s posts about why to vote for her. If you want reasons to be skeptical of the coverage of her scandals, watch John Oliver’s coverage of them. If you think this election is as important as I do and want to help her win, this handy Chrome extension can suggest things to do to help, or you can just go to her website for events to volunteer at and/or a phone banking app you can use to do phone banking from home. And of course, make sure you register to vote.

 

By ResearchToBeDone Posted in other