Friday, October 14, 2016

B126. Why I'm Not Afraid of Hillary

In the realm of sports, we North Carolinians are familiar with the ABC philosophy.  Whatever the sport, we know that when someone says he’s pulling for ABC, that means Anybody But Carolina. Why? Because the team most likely to win is also the team most targeted by the opposition. (Yes, I have a slight Carolina bias, inherited from my daddy.)  And although occasionally some player or fan will cross the proverbial line, in sports, the competitive animosity is usually harmless and all in fun.

Not so in politics. History has shown corruption, and sometimes pure evil, in government systems throughout the world and across the centuries, and unlike a Duke vs. UNC basketball game, a Democrat vs. Republican battle can get plain mean and nasty, with anything said (and sometimes done) to bring the opponent down.

More than a year ago, long before the Republican Party could have possibly predicted who their presidential candidate would be, Hillary was the Democratic standout and the obvious one to beat. The Republican strategists, long before you and I were interested in this election, were devising a costly plan to take her down.

It is widely known and scientifically documented that the more times we hear something, the more strongly we believe it to be true.  This applies to everything from academic studies to religious teachings or even to completely made up gossip. Some say seven is the magic number – that once we’ve heard something seven times, it becomes set in our brain. Political strategists are well aware of this phenomenon.

In searching for and testing how to most effectively attack Hillary, two targets came to the forefront, pertaining to arenas about which most of the general population would have little knowledge except what they were told: Benghazi and email servers. All the strategists would need to do is tell us over and over that what she did was criminal and she’s a liar, until that becomes our main perception of her.

Let’s Pause Here To Think Out Loud
In your own words, can you explain out loud (yes, maybe just to yourself, but out loud) exactly what happened in Benghazi? Exactly what did Hillary do? What should she have done? Not just “save the people.” Be specific. How should she have saved them? Did she do something criminal? Have similar tragedies happened in the past with someone else at the helm? (Did you know that during the George W Bush administration, there were 13 attacks on embassies and consulates, and 60 deaths? Or that in 2011 Hillary, then Secretary of State, warned Republicans that their proposed budget cuts to her dept. would be “detrimental to America’s national security," and they ignored her?) Why are you so angry about Benghazi? Who told you you should be? Say their names aloud. Where is Benghazi anyway?   

And then the emails. In your own words, what does it mean that Hillary used her own private server? What is a server? Why do you imagine she might have done this? Was it criminal? Have others before her used personal servers? Why? And then she “lost” all those emails. What do you think she was hiding? Why? Have others before her “lost” emails? Was that criminal? Why are you so angry about the emails? Who told you you should be? Say their names aloud.

Lost Emails
According to Newsweek Magazine, between the years of 2003 and 2009, the Bush administration “lost” 22 million emails (22 million!), many likely pertaining to the controversial Iraq War. Now, while I don’t condone hiding emails from any official investigation, I think I can understand on a personal level, how this might happen, and that you and I might make that same choice.  

Let’s bring this down to a level we can understand. What if someone hacked into your personal or work email server, and all of your emails were now accessible to the public? Would you go in and try to delete before others found them? I would. My emails have no government secrets, but they are my personal communications, some with personal identifying information that could threaten my security, some with private conversations with friends, some with highly confidential work communication. Yes, I would delete.

And the private email server – The Bush administration used one of those too, set up by the Republican National Convention. Yes, the same party that has set out to convince us that Hillary is unfit to be president for doing the same thing.

Criminal Investigation
Hillary was investigated and found not guilty of any criminal wrong-doing. Members of the party that brought on the investigation in an attempt (successful I’d say) to discredit her in the eyes of the public, now wish us to believe the investigation was rigged.

Many other attempts to discredit her have been tried. Her husband’s infidelity. Her religion (Yes, she’s Christian). That as a lawyer she defended a rapist (She was a lawyer, folks. It was her job. Not a chosen case, but assigned to her).  I even read once that she missed Chelsea’s first day of school, making her not only an unfit president but an unfit mother. By all indications, Chelsea is a well-adjusted, intelligent, and most promising young woman whose relationship with her parents is admirable.

Hillary’s opponents have long been digging through her past looking for anything that will smear her name. And this is all they have. Now, granted, credit where credit’s due, they have made the most of what they had. They have successfully planted doubt, fear, and even hatred, in the minds of millions of voters.

Why So Much Bad Press?
What we think we know about Hillary depends on what we watch, what we listen to, what we read, and whose political opinions we trust. FOX News, for example, is a completely right wing political machine, made to skew our views in favor of everything GOP and against everything Democratic. That’s what it is, what it does, and it does it well. Republican leaders would love for us all to watch FOX for our news, limit our reading to conservative news feeds, and listen only to conservative radio stations. Do you have any idea how much money goes into brainwashing us through these sources? And of course the constant TV ads are being paid for by powers of one party or the other – never unbiased. And even if we don’t get all our news directly from these sources, the pastor or Sunday School teacher or husband or friend who keeps us politically informed might be getting all her/his information from there.

So where’s the balance? We have to intentionally find it. Not just read whatever pops up in our Facebook feed. Check the source, and ask ourselves what its bias might be. Choose news networks that are making a good attempt at being unbiased. FOX is the most conservatively biased, MSNBC the most liberal. Choose news, programs, reading sources that provide the facts without emotionally leading our feelings and opinions. This will make us all better voters and better neighbors to each other.

It is not my intention to paint a portrait of Hillary Clinton perfection. She is human. I’m sure she wishes she had not used the private email server; and yes, there should have been more US forces on hand in Benghazi. (Do we fault her for this?) On a more personal side, she comes across as strong and tough, which has served her well as senator, first lady, and Secretary of State and will serve her well if elected President, but I do wish she were just a little more personable, more genuinely magnetic, like her husband or Kennedy or Obama.  So no, perfect she is not. Nor is any past Republican or Democratic president. Nor am I. Nor you.

Why I Like Her
I like her because she’s tough and smart. She has proven she can stand up through public humiliation, through the tensest of partisan opposition . . . She understands foreign policy. She understands diplomacy and how to interact with world power heads. She knows what the presidency entails. And as the Obamas have said repeatedly, she is more experienced and qualified for the presidency than any other candidate of either party in our lifetime. And that she happens to be a woman – I like that too.

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