Chill for Hill: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Hillary Clinton

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Chill for Hill: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Hillary Clinton

Welp, here we go. Barack Obama made the Republicans so angry that they decided to self-destruct! But even though Trump is probably going to lose, progressives should not get complacent: Trump is a well-funded liar with formidable skills at manipulating the media and a brutish instinct for connecting with the racist tribalism of angry white people. Progressives who are not huge fans of Hillary Clinton need to get ready to vote for her in November, even if they’re not excited about it yet.

Like many Americans, I have complicated feelings about Hillary Clinton. I don’t hate Hillary, but I supported Bernie Sanders during the primary, because I agreed with more of Bernie’s policy positions and I wanted to help move the Democratic Party further to the left.

But here’s the thing, folks: the Republicans have chosen an openly racist, misogynist, off-the-charts narcissistic, literal MADMAN to be their nominee for president. Now that Donald Trump is one step away from having his tiny, baby-like hands on the nuclear launch codes, we’ve got to vote for Hillary.

I’m well acquainted with the progressive case against Hillary: she’s got too many corporate connections, she’s too comfortable hobnobbing with wealthy elitists, she’s too eager to compromise with the worst people in politics, lots of things about the legacy of the Clinton White House have not aged well, one of her biggest achievements as Secretary of State was to help turn Libya into a failed state, and she’s been part of 24 years of national media baggage and scandals, and it’s depressing that America is so beholden to the political dynasties of Clintons and Bushes.

And, sure, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Remember that time when she claimed to have been under sniper fire in Bosnia, but wasn’t? Or when she (intentionally?) gave fuel to the birther movement when she said that Obama wasn’t a Muslim “as far as I know”? Or when she bizarrely praised Nancy Reagan for being an AIDS advocate when in fact the Reagans did jack shit while 20,000 Americans died? Or her reliance on the racist buzzword “superpredators” in the ‘90s? Or her support for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the Defense of Marriage Act, and minimum prison sentences in the crime bill? Or how she’s made millions sucking up to powerful interests, or how she’s attacked the women who accused Bill of sexual misconduct, or—

GAH! Enough! I’m conflicted, see? Have I proven that yet? Have I done enough?!

But still—STILL!—when compared to the manifold disasters Trump could instigate with presidential power, her past sins look like understandable blips on the radar. I think Hillary is really smart and hard-working and experienced. I have no qualms about her qualifications and I want her to nominate the next Supreme Court judges instead of Trump; that alone is worth voting for her in November.

Let me be totally clear: Now that we’re faced with the prospect of President Trump, “I’m With Her.”

And when you’re willing to forgive the issues mentioned above—motivated by the terrifying prospect of President Donald Trump—you start to understand that Hillary could be a better president than you might expect. Let’s get excited, people! Here’s the flip side of all the hate:

Hillary Has Accomplished Lots of Great Things

This article has a good rundown of some of Hillary’s biggest accomplishments as Secretary of State, as a U.S. Senator, and as First Lady, some of which I had forgotten about. As Secretary of State, Hillary was instrumental in creating sanctions that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear program. As First Lady, Hillary worked behind the scenes with Senate allies to help create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which helped millions of lower-income kids get great health insurance at an affordable price. As a Senator, she helped make prescription drug labeling safer and more accurate for children, helping to save lives and improve the health of millions of kids.

More broadly, as Secretary of State she helped repair America’s alliances and reputation in the aftermath of George W. Bush’s reign of global destruction. She’s done a ton of great things as a global ambassador for women’s rights—having her as the first woman president could be hugely valuable, even just on a symbolic level, for improving the lives of women and girls all over the world.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has never served in public office.

Hillary Voted for the Iraq War, but the Iraq War is Not Really Her Fault

Back in 2002, Senator Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the Iraq War. Ugh. God damn it. Knowing what we know now—hell, even knowing what we knew in 2002—that was a really bad decision. Today, she says that her vote was a mistake. HOWEVER: let’s not act like the Iraq War was Hillary’s idea. Hillary’s vote in the Senate was just one of many.

But everything that happened afterward—the botched occupation, the vicious Iraqi civil war of kidnappings and torture-murders, the outrageous profiteering and waste by private defense contractors, the sexualized torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib, the hilariously premature “Mission Accomplished” speech, the fragmentation of the Iraqi state and the rise of ISIS, the uncountable thousands of innocent lives snuffed out for one man’s Oedipal complex—is ultimately the fault of George W. Bush.

Don’t blame Hillary for the Iraq War; she was just a minor accessory to the overall crime. George W. Bush was the drunk driver who crashed the car; Hillary was just one of the people who chipped in to buy him the beer.

(I really wish she hadn’t voted for the goddamn Iraq War. Shit.)

Hillary Knows Policy Stuff

Hillary Clinton is the ultimate policy wonk. (And I mean that as a compliment!) Whether you agree or disagree with her, you have to admit that she does her homework, and she’s familiar with the intricate complexities of federal policymaking.

Hillary is the Kobe Bryant of politics—she can be polarizing, but she overwhelms you with sheer workload, to the point that you don’t even totally notice whether she’s actually “good” or not. But even if you’re not a huge fan, you have to respect her work ethic and longevity.

Hillary’s Just Playing the Cards She Was Dealt

Progressives often criticize the Clintons for their politics of triangulation: meeting the Republicans in the middle, and co-opting the best of their ideas. Hillary is often seen as being too eager to compromise, and not resolute enough about progressive principles.

But here’s the thing: Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 with only 43 percent of the popular vote. He never had a huge mandate to be a progressive; he was playing defense for 8 years. Hillary’s going to be facing a similarly divided and polarized country if she wins in November.

Half the country keeps electing right-wing troglodytes who want to burn “Warshington, D.C.” to the ground, who want to allow everyone to carry AR-15 assault rifles in public, and who want to require women to register with the FBI every time they’re having their period. Yes, it would be great if America had a massive progressive mandate for single-payer universal health care and infrastructure investments and a carbon tax and affordable college tuition for all, but that’s not the country we’re living in.

Politics is the art of the possible, and right now in American national politics, just like it was during the presidency of Bill Clinton, very little is possible. It’s not Hillary’s fault; these are just the imperfect times that she’s dealing with. Maybe we have to settle for whatever frustratingly inadequate deals and piecemeal reforms the Republicans will allow.

She’s Flip-Flopped On Lots of Things—But In a Good Way!

Hillary has changed her stances on a lot of issues over the years—but maybe that’s OK! People change their minds all the time! Remember when Barack Obama was against gay marriage? How many of you can honestly say that you’ve always been staunchly in favor of same-sex marriage equality, even as far back as 2004? The whole country has evolved on this issue, quite quickly, just within the past few years!

Hillary has been flip-flopping in a more progressive direction! I don’t care about what Hillary used to say that she believes; I care about what she says she believes TODAY. No, I don’t totally trust her as having 100% consistent sincerity in her convictions about almost anything, but I DO trust that she will pursue most of the right policies TODAY—because I trust her to keep up with prevailing public opinion.

Maybe that sounds like faint praise! But it’s more than enough to make me happy to vote for her against Trump.

I Want to Have a Woman Be President

Yes, this is blatant gender identity politics and “playing the woman card,” or whatever: I want to see a woman win the White House, and I feel good about having Hillary be the first woman to do it. Hillary has put in the hard work and taken a lot of unfair, sexist attacks all these years that no other (male) candidate for president has ever had to put up with; she deserves a lot of credit for helping to shatter this ultimate glass ceiling of American politics.

Is it kind of too bad that the first woman president is going to be from a family dynasty? Yes. I don’t like the message it sends about America that 4 out of our last 5 presidents will come from just two families. It would be more inspiring if the first woman president were not married to a former president.

But maybe this is exactly the way it had to happen. Maybe the first woman to win the White House needed to have big-time name recognition and a built-in national network of fundraisers and political connections. Maybe the only way to break this glass ceiling was to elect a woman who has already been thoroughly tested and vetted.

Hillary shares the famous Clinton name, but she has created her own identity as a national political figure in her own right, on her own merits. Maybe you disagree with her on lots of things, but you can’t deny that Hillary is winning on her own terms and as her own person.

Hillary is Not Donald Trump

Remember when Hillary said that Mexican immigrants were a bunch of rapists? Remember when Hillary said we should ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.? Remember when Hillary said that women who have abortions should be punished? Remember when Hillary’s supporters were sucker punching Black protesters?

Yep! Hillary is exactly the same as Trump!

Hillary has her flaws, but Donald Trump represents the most sinister forces in U.S. politics. The Republican Party is hopelessly dysfunctional and incompetent, and now the grown-ups are going to have to step up and do the right thing in November.

Trump must lose! So let’s vote for Hillary. If everyone who’s not racist and insane can just show up to vote for Hillary, Trump will lose. Or instead, we can all somehow find a way to sabotage ourselves with moral absolutism and false equivalencies.

I can’t take that chance. I don’t have the luxury of that level of ideological purity. I don’t believe that the way to achieve long-term progressive change is to let America descend into fascist dystopia. Let’s not get cutesy and overly clever about this; let’s just chill and vote for Hillary. “Chill for Hill.” I can live with that.

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