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Neglecting Hillary

August 17, 2016

I’m going to make a serious effort to remedy this. I haven’t been giving Hillary enough attention. That’s flat out because I haven’t found her interesting enough. And that, flat out, may well result from my personal bias, even the psychological bent of my narratorial personality—I am not her best audience.)

It’s a problem, not because it lessens her chance of election (kidding), but because it hobbles the narrative. Not only is she a character who is on her way to becoming President, she has first-hand experience of some of the psycho-pathologies of our democracy—especially sexism. As they disable our politics and our democracy, she knows them much better than I do.

Let me ramble a bit about this, to try to get myself together.

Hillary does interest me in one very big way: at long last, we will identify being a woman with being President of the Untied States. The importance of that fact, in itself, can not be overstated. We’re talking about power here.

My family, including four daughters, will watch the returns together. When Hillary is declared, we’ll have plenty of watery eyes. (Or, we’ll start a serious conversation about options—for myself, I’m thinking Paris, Basque country, or a hill town in Italy. That’s how privileged I am.)

Her election victory surely will be one of the great triumphs in our national history. I have a lot of respect for her—just think of all that she’s been through. Are you kidding me?! It may be that she is, frankly, tired. But she can not stop. And then think of what she’ll face as President.

The odds are overwhelming that Hillary is more interesting (and of course I mean in her political life) than I find her to be, and that she speaks effectively to, and for, a whole lot of people. I’ve affirmed her candidacy and her personal sensitivity, on the basis of which I’ve expressed hopefulness for her presidency, if it is sufficiently influenced by Progressives.

But even then, will this politician’s vision and method of governing be adequate to meet the needs—the severe needs—of the time? I keep coming back to that.

My interest flags when she seems to me to be too conventional and cautious. For instance, by not arguing for paying for infrastructure by borrowing, at essentially no interest, which is so obviously the smart thing to do. But maybe she plans to make that argument from the White House. And the Republicans will be in charge of that anyway, if they keep their majority in the other House.

At any rate, she is not one of the Democratic politicians with whom I would be excited to have an opportunity to talk. I think it’s because, yes, she’s a person who wants to fix things, but even when they’re the things that I want fixed, I feel as though her political sensibility does not actually engage the heart of those problems, or the spirit with which they can be fixed. I keep getting the impression that she gets distracted by interests, and by methods, that are part of the problem and will pull energy away from fixing it. I keep thinking I see her eyes wander.

Part of my problem is that I consider the Clinton “New Democrats,” with their “Third Way,” to have been inauthentic in the first place, since it sold out the labor-oriented Dem party to the highest bidder. I doubt that many people, 24 years after 1992, are inspired by what feels like political inauthenticity. To me it seems as though she’s trying to find a third way between Bernie and Trump. I feel as though that vision and practice was, at best, one for the moment, and now we need to move well past it.

Maybe her seeming caution is actuality great subtlety, and awareness of how complicated political life is. Maybe she really does know how to get things done, and she’s going to do it.

I wonder, too, if maybe she’s a very private person, whose exceptional abilities and sensitivities have led her into one of the world’s most public situations? [ * ] And then, her public life has been dogged by year after year of being relentlessly, viciously, stalked, by men such as Ken Starr and Roger Ailes. Her stalkers clearly have wanted to destroy her, in every way that they can fantasize.

Plus, she has spent her political lifetime dealing with Bill Clinton. Brilliant and charming.

(I know it’s just me, but that brings to mind another brilliant and complicated couple, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Well and of course, Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR.)

And now here’s Trump, sucking up all the energy in the room. He’s like a child that delights in dominating his parents by creating one near disaster after another. He’s exhausting, but he has to be constantly watched.

I’m going to make a real effort to stop neglecting the well-behaved kid.

I know her character and actions, plus her avid voters, will enrich the story, if I can do justice to it.

But darn, I wish that instead of presenting herself as a “champion” of the needy, as she did early in her campaign, she would free her inner warrior. I think we need to hear her battle cry, her challenge to any and all who dare come onto the field. I want to know that she’s had it up to here. In your face. Fukkit. “Do they hate me? I welcome their hatred!”—FDR. But she also welcomes their money. I want to know that she knows the size of the crisis we’re facing, and she’s going to grab it by the horns and throw it to the ground.

Maybe I missed it, because I haven’t been paying enough attention. I’ll see if my impression changes with knowledge. Surely if it turns out, some months from now, that we dealt adequately with our psycho-pathologies, including all that Trump represents, Hillary will have been a remarkable part of the story.

[ * Update 9-24:  excellent article about that.]

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  1. Listening to Hillary: Economy | tomkoontz

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