There’s nothing simple about this candidacy—or candidate.
Photographs by Brigitte Lacombe
In a locker room at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, people are waiting in line to get their pictures taken with Hillary Clinton before a rally in the school’s gym. It’s a kid-heavy crowd, and Clinton has been chatting easily with them.
But soon there’s only one family left and the mood shifts. Francine and David Wheeler are there with their 13-year-old son, Nate, and his 17-month-old brother, Matty, who’s scrambling around on the floor. They carry a stack of photographs of their other son, Benjamin, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when he was 6. David presses the photos of his dead son on Clinton with the urgency of a parent desperate to keep other parents from having to show politicians pictures of their dead 6-year-olds.
Leaning in toward Wheeler as if they are colleagues mapping out a strategy, Clinton speaks in a voice that is low and serious. “We have to be as organized and focused as they are to beat them and undermine them,” she says. “We are going to be relentless and determined and focused … They are experts at scaring people, telling them, ‘They’re going to take your guns’ … We need the same level of intensity. Intensity is more important than numbers.” Clinton tells Wheeler that she has already discussed gun control with Chuck Schumer, who will likely be leading the Senate Democrats in 2017; she talks about the differences between state and federal law and between regulatory and legislative fixes, and describes the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which extended the protections of the Second Amendment, as “a terrible decision.” She is practically swelling, Hulk-like, with her desire to describe to this family how she’s going to solve the problem of gun violence, even though it is clear that their real problem — the absence of their middle child — is unsolvable. When Matty grabs the front of his diaper, Clinton laughs, suggesting that he either needs a change or is pretending to be a baseball player. She is warm, present, engaged, but not sappy. For Clinton, the highest act of emotional respect is perhaps to find something to do, not just something to say. “I’m going to do everything I can,” she tells Wheeler. “Everything I can.”
Unlike Traister, Aaron Loeb is not a famous author or commentator. But he was, for a long stretch of the primary season a fence-sitter. His article in Medium is an Odyssey with some good healthy helpings of the history of Republican strategies against prior good, solid Democratic candidates.
There are women alive today in the United States who were born without the right to vote. We are on the verge of nominating the first woman in our history to be a major-party candidate. On the other side, we are on the verge of nominating the first major-party candidate to have never held political office since Eisenhower. Eisenhower beat Hitler. Donald Trump thinks Hitler had a lot of good ideas.
On one hand, we have a potential to yet again move our country forward, past its darkest histories of prejudice, exclusion, and failing to live up to its own ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all its people. On the other hand, we have a man who has expressly stated that America needs to move backwards to the “good old days.”Personally, I began this long, bruising, ugly primary feeling thrilled at the prospect of a Sanders or Clinton candidacy. It seemed like the Republicans were going to throw up all over themselves, while lighting themselves on fire, while tripping on a garbage can. And they certainly did that! But meanwhile, the Democratic primary has descended into hyperbole, lies and nonsense — mostly targeted at Hillary Clinton — and driven a harsh wedge between friends. Support for either candidate has now become a kind of moral litmus test: if you support Clinton, you are no true liberal and you don’t care about working people; if you support Sanders, you are a privileged white male and you don’t care about women’s reproductive rights, or the rights of minorities. And while it’s categorically obvious that there are true liberals who support Clinton and there are women and minorities supporting Sanders, these simplistic shibboleths have taken hold: Clinton is “conservative”; Sanders is “progressive.”
I’ve found the growing divide confounding and depressing and remained undecided until recently. I’ve leaned Sanders (after Michigan); I’ve leaned Clinton (early on and after New York). When it became clear Clinton had locked the primary, I thought of splitting my vote: Sanders in the June 7 primary; Clinton in the general. But now, I’m firmly for Clinton and will vote for her on June 7 with conviction.
Regulars here know that I am not in the habit of recommending articles. Most of us have loved Hillary so hard and so long that we may be a little blind to sources of criticism. For different reasons, both of these articles that I happened upon on the same day convey a message that we Still4Hillers do not really need to hear - - - but as we enter the general election season may want to pack in a back pocket as we encounter the #NeverHillary troops. Traister's "now I know her" moment and Loeb's analysis are two gems to bury in the palm of your hand for the mud-slinging that is to come in just a week. Ready? We are ready. Have been for a very long time. Let's go do this!
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