An Integrated President

“…even a campaign seeking to shatter glass ceilings can play host to old-fashioned harassment. On campaigns, if complaints arise, they do so in an environment where the candidate’s public perception is an inherent priority.”

Sharing this BuzzFeed report partly as a follow-up to my post last week asserting that had Hillary become president, the #MeToo movement would not be occurring.

A friend has lodged a few complaints about my continued focus on Hillary. It’s “so 2016,” he says. I disagree. Here’s why:

As I saw it, and continue to see it, the big difference between Hillary and Bernie back during the primary was not a $12 minimum wage versus a $15 minimum wage. It wasn’t even Medicare-for-All or the TPP, though I think those issues are more significant. It was about integrity.

The big difference was that you could draw a pretty straight line from pictures of Bernie Sanders getting dragged away by police from a protest of segregated housing in the mid 1960’s, through his speeches in the House of Representatives in the 1990’s, through his later speeches in the Senate, to his stump speeches as a candidate for president. Wherever you looked along that line, over decades, you saw the same person. The same couldn’t be done for Clinton. In fact, Clinton’s history was easily turned into the exact opposite sort of narrative, showing a person whose supposed core beliefs changed with the political winds.

The answer to this was that it’s easy to stick to your principles when you’re on the political margins, and this is true enough.

Thing is, the real issue here is not some abstract moral judgment argued in Heaven. The real issue is a society in which trust – not only in authority, but in the very idea of integrity – is at the very least teetering on the brink. The country, as I see it, didn’t really need a female president at this point, so much as it needed a person – of any race, gender, and orientation – who was widely perceived as honest. A camel could sooner get through the eye of a needle than an honest person be elected president. I think we needed, and need, a person who validates the idea that integrity is not some matter of individual moral narcissism, but something of essential, collective, worth.

Such a person might have countered the breakdown along ideological lines that has become virtually religious in nature.

I want to tell my friends who believe Donald Trump is the source of the breakdown – and that’s pretty much all of my friends – that they’re taking their religion too seriously, mistaking a symptom for a cause. The fact that Donald Trump is a pathological liar doesn’t make CNN, or the FBI for that matter, bastions of truth. For fuck’s sake, get real. Try to remember that one of the grandfather’s of the charge of “fake news” was Noam Chomsky. Don’t get sucked into the black and white logic of the shaming brain. If you truly believe in science, don’t exempt politics from its domain.

This may very well be the last thing I say on the matter, at least until 2020. No doubt I have something more useful to do.

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