I’m very glad I took the time to watch this short piece by Ezra Klein for VOX.
I’ve been avoiding election coverage for months now, totally disgusted by our national descent into a pit of shrieking raptors hungry for more negativity. I, for one, have had my fill. Klein’s video is a refreshing bit of non-sensationalist, intelligent journalism. It digs into Hillary Clinton’s strengths: listening and getting shit done. I’ve also recently been reading Deborah Tannen’s “The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words“. You should too. Clinton may really be the President we need right now – an extremely hard-working bridge-builder who can, perhaps, ease the toxic polarization that is currently suffocating our democratic processes.
2008 Obama and 2016 Sanders were the presidents I wanted. They promised a progressive vision of our future, in which our national gifts could be shared more equally and America could remake herself as a responsible actor on the world stage. But perhaps what we need most at this moment is a temporary step back from ideological battles so we can focus on healing the system and rebuilding trust in our public institutions.
I’m incredibly tired of hearing my fellow Americans speak of our government as though it’s a useless entity, totally outside our control. Sharing frustrations with the status quo seemed like a great way to bond with people across the political aisle during primary season. I have a lot of frustrations to share – my whole life remains on hold as a result of our dysfunctional immigration system. At some point, though, I began to tire of the “every candidate sucks” memes. I’m a progressive. I believe we can and should do a lot better. But we also have a precious gift in our Constitution, national resources, and general level of institutional function.
I spent almost 6 years living in countries with really big problems. Economies so underdeveloped that everyday shopping was a surplus and salvage experience. Capital cities lacking reliable power or water infrastructure, still scarred by bullet and shell-holes from civil wars two decades past. Pay-to-play governments unable to materialize such basic necessities as garbage collection and presidential elections. Education systems failing everybody from the poor to the rich. Entire areas controlled by non-state actors. Women and children wandering the streets in rags.
You know what kept me safe, employed, and accommodated by the local bureaucrats? My American nationality.
Fuck that rude charlatan posing as a “successful businessman” and Republican presidential nominee. America Is Already Great! We take for granted a panoply of government services and high-functioning institutions that make us healthier and freer than the average humans on planet Earth. (This is not to say we are free of major, unacceptable failures to serve every citizen effectively.) I do fear that we’ve lost appreciation for our blessings to such a degree, that our national conversation has devolved into such a relentless bitching session, that we risk sliding backwards. We need to learn how to take a deep breath, listen to each other as human beings again, and wrestle control back from our lizard brains. That goes for everybody, and triple for politicians.
I do not think that Hillary Clinton is perfect. She will undoubtedly disappoint me with many of her policy positions. She has made mistakes and will surely make more as President. But I’d rather see progress through compromise than paralysis through partisanship. Hillary has already demonstrated her commitment to bipartisanship by inviting Republicans and Sanders supporters alike into a “Big Tent”. I could choose to feel angry at her for sharing the DNC stage with the likes of Michael Bloomberg, but instead I choose to celebrate her willingness and ability to engage with colleagues of all political persuasions.
This woman could be enjoying a luxurious retirement. Instead, she has fought her way through two brutal election seasons seeking a job that will place enormous stress and responsibility on her shoulders. I believe she is motivated to serve us, and that she has the skills to do so competently. When it comes to this year’s presidential election, which cannot come soon enough, I’m with the sane adult.