Over the past several months, I've seen Hillary Clinton derided as a flip-flopper, a liar, and even a closet Republican. I want to address these unfair criticisms, which I believe result from a decontextualized view of the American political system, and, yes, even gender bias.
In a representative democracy, our political representatives can be delegates, where they vote however their constituents want them to vote, regardless of their personal views, or trustees, where they are trusted by their constituents to vote however they see fit. I think our political leaders must combine both roles.
There are times when issues are too complicated or do not get enough press attention for the common people to develop meaningful opinions about them. There are also times when popular opinion might be morally wrong, as was the case with slavery in the South. In those cases, our leaders should serve as trustees. But at times when information is readily available to the populous, and absolute truth is not clear, I believe the delegate model is the better model to follow. And with a delegate model, it is only natural that politicians change their positions on issues.
What people seem to forget when they scrutinize politicians is that the American people are constantly changing their minds. Over the past two decades, Americans have become more favorable toward gay marriage. We are becoming more favorable toward marijuana legalization. When the public changes its mind as a group, we call it cultural evolution. When a politician changes her mind, even to reflect the opinion of her constituents, we call it "flip flopping."
So when people call Hillary a "flip flopper," I call her a delegate. Politicians change their stances not because they are untrustworthy people, but because it's part of their job. And for some reason, Hillary's shifts in policy stance are received quite differently from her peers'. Supporters of Bernie Sanders claim that Bernie never "flip flops," when he in fact recently changed his position on gun control. The fact that Barack Obama did not declare his support for gay marriage until 2012 is all but forgotten, while people continue to criticize Hillary for not supporting gay marriage until 2013.
And there's an even bigger "flip flop" in Obama's political history that everyone seems to have forgotten. When Obama ran against Hillary in the 2008 primary, he was opposed to the universal healthcare plan that Hillary had long supported. It wasn't until after Obama was elected that he adopted Hillary's views on the issue. For his "flip flop," Obama is lauded by Democrats as the father of our new, revolutionary healthcare system. Hillary, for her "flip flops," is branded an opportunist, and a liar.
I simply cannot believe gender plays no role in the way people view Hillary's political evolution. Women in politics are often held to higher standards than men. They are expected to bring honesty and trustworthiness back into an institution that is already inherently corrupt--God forbid the men have any role to play in that process; apparently they're already too far gone.
Hillary, it seems, is locked in a game she cannot win. Her political career is so long that she cannot play the uncorrupted feminine savior. But try as she might to play as one of the boys, she cannot scrub away her gender.
I support Hillary. And I can only hope to help release her from this trap by calling attention to the ways she is unfairly and hypocritically criticized.
People point to Hillary's donations from Wall Street to prove she is untrustworthy, and while I won't say those donations do not worry me in the slightest, I will say that there is no evidence Hillary has ever acted improperly because of a donation. I also believe Hillary's stance on campaign finance reform demonstrates an unprecedented level of professionalism in the political world. Hillary has promised to do what she can to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, despite the fact that the original goal of Citizens United was to smear Hillary. Rather than criticizing the case because it began as an assault on her reputation, Hillary turns the other cheek, and, in doing so, faces her voters and promises them: "I will do what you ask of me."
That's one of the main reasons I support Hillary: the fact that she always opts to be the bigger person. She prioritizes charting a path forward over correcting past affronts to her character. She listens to what the people want, and then draws up a plan to accomplish it for them.
I'm voting for Hillary over Bernie because Hillary is grounded, while many of Bernie's proposals are simply not feasible. Bernie wants to make college free--and make no mistake, I think this is a fantastic idea--but college in the United States is not like college in countries like Germany where it is free. In Germany, far fewer students go to college, and their colleges lack the amenities that ours have. To make free the dorm rooms, the dining halls, the fitness facilities, the intensive advising programs, so on and so forth--that's a big burden on the taxpayers which simply cannot be accomplished.
Bernie wants to shift to single payer healthcare, which I also think is a great ideal, but our country is not ready for another massive overhaul of its healthcare system, after we barely managed to pass one only 6 years ago, and the Republicans are still fighting tooth and nail to repeal it.
While Bernie's goals are progressive and idealistic, Hillary's are progressive and realistic--improve the ACA, make college more affordable, address income inequality by encouraging profit sharing. Hillary is also making an active effort to help more Democrats get elected so that her initiatives have a better chance of passing.
I trust Hillary. I support Hillary. I believe she will chart a course to a better future for this country.