Is it because of partisanship?
Or a hard-fought primary?
Maybe, NBC once suggested, it's because "she's not a train wreck."
Funny how the answers seem to be everything but the obvious.
We go on endlessly about how "untrustworthy" she is, while fact checkers rank her as the second-most honest prominent politician in the country. (And her opponent as by far the least.)
We say that she has trouble with transparency, while her opponent refuses to release his taxes and the current administration sets records for secrecy.
We decry her ties to corporations and the financial industry, while supporting a walking tax shelter or mourning the exit of a president whose re-election was funded by a record-shattering Wall Street haul.
We list so very many explanations, all of them complete bullshit.
In truth, the Hillary haters seem to resent her more than disagree with her. They demand to be humored and catered to. They hold her to wildly different standards than her male counterparts. They regard her with an unprecedented degree of suspicion. Above all, they really, really want to see her punished. And an aggressive male presence—even if dangerously incompetent—seems to comfort a great many of them.
Everyone but them knows damn well why.
Bad news for the haters: History is decidedly unafraid of "the woman card." It doesn't care how many people will stand on tables today and swear they'd feel the same if she were a man. It will see us for what we are—a sick society, driven by misogyny and pathetically struggling to come to terms with the fact that women do not exist solely to nurture.
If that answer isn't as nuanced as the average thinkpiece, that's because we, as a people, are not. No matter how many branches have formed, they all emerged from the same seed, planted way back when Bill Clinton first ran for governor. She wouldn't be so suspicious of the press, or so measured in her presentation, or so any one of a thousand other things, if she had been born a man.
The lengths we go to in order to rationalize this all will be seen, in retrospect, as extraordinary.
When the Bush administration was discovered to have erased millions of emails illegally sent by 22 administration officials through private, RNC-owned accounts, in order to thwart an investigation into the politically motivated firing of eight US attorneys, just one talk show covered it that Sunday.
When Mitt Romney wiped servers, sold government hard drives to his closest aides and spent $100,000 in taxpayer money to destroy his administration's emails, it was barely an issue.
When Hillary Clinton asked Colin Powell how he managed to use a Blackberry while serving as Secretary of State, he replied by detailing his method of intentionally bypassing federal record-keeping laws:
I didn't have a Blackberry. What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.) So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels.
... There is a real danger. If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and it it [sic] government and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may become an official record and subject to the law.
Yet the fact that Hillary Clinton emailed through a private server and didn't use it to cover anything up is somehow the defining issue of her campaign. "My God," people cry, "anyone else would be in jail!"
Or is the real scandal that her family runs but does not profit from a charitable foundation awarded an A grade by Charity Watch, a four out of four star rating by Charity Navigator and responsible for helping 435 million people in 180 countries get things like clean drinking water and HIV medication? Because the AP seems super concerned that she encountered people who donated to it—specifically Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus—in her official capacity as Secretary of State.
It should at this point be observed that her opponent is a shameless con artist who has built an empire bilking people with fake businesses, fake universities, fake charities and, now, a fake campaign. Last week, he told a lie every three minutes and fifteen seconds. Oh, and did we mention that he, (like so many of his online "supporters,") is a goddamn Russian stooge? I tried to list all of the dumb, awful stuff that he does every day and I cannot come close to keeping up.
Voters, it seems, are his easiest marks yet.
And it isn't just Republicans. The double standards are even more transparent on the left.
Back in the mid-90s, Clinton's persistent unwillingness to hide the fact that she was a thinking human female really freaked the center-left establishment out. Michael Moore observed that, "[Maureen Dowd] is fixated on trashing Hillary Rodham in the way liberals love to do, to prove they're not really liberal." The bashing slowly morphed into a creepy, extraordinary sort of policing.
Since then, Clinton racked up a Senate voting record more liberal than any nominee since Mondale. Her 2008 platform was slightly to Obama's left on domestic issues. Her 2016 platform was barely to the right of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders.
Yet, we have all heard and seen countless liberal posers passionately decrying her "far right voting record," untrustworthy promises or ever-changing policy positions. Jon Stewart recently called Clinton, "A bright woman without the courage of her convictions, because I don't know what they even are." Because if he doesn't know, she must not have any, right?
In fact, there is a very lengthy trail of public records all pointing in the same direction. If you can't figure out which, maybe the problem is you.
Yet, many on the left who gladly voted for John Kerry, two years after he voted to authorize the Iraq war, now say they couldn't possibly vote for Clinton, because she did, too.
It's time to stop pretending that this is about substance. This is about an eagerness to believe that a woman who seeks power will say or do anything to get it. This is about a Lady MacBeth stereotype that, frankly, should never have existed in the first place. This is about the one thing no one wants to admit it's about.
Consider, for a moment, two people. One, as a young woman at the beginning of a promising legal career, went door to door searching for ways to guarantee an education to the countless disabled and disadvantaged children who had fallen through the cracks. The other, as a young millionaire, exacted revenge on his recently deceased brother's family by cutting off the medical insurance desperately needed by his nephew's newborn son, who at eighteen months of age was suffering from violent seizures brought on by a rare neurological disorder.
What kind of a society treats these two people as equal in any way? What kind of society even considers the latter over the former for its highest office?
Generations from now, people will shake their heads at this moment in time, when the first female major party presidential nominee—competent, qualified and more thoroughly vetted than any non-incumbent candidate in history—endured the humiliation of being likened to such an obvious grifter, ignoramus and hate monger.
We deserve the shame that we will bear.
Reprinted from the Huffington Post. September 26, 2016.
Cover image is "Feminism at Work" by Women You Should Know
September 27, 2016