The Fundamental Difference Between Hillary And Trump

 

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Are they really not that different? 

I continue to hear people voice the opinion that there isn’t much difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And OK, let’s accept for a minute that it’s difficult to discern a difference between her agenda and his. I don’t agree, but for the sake of argument, I’ll take it. There is still a very important difference that became clear to me while I was comparing Trump’s nomination acceptance speech to Hillary’s. Hillary Clinton is asking the country to elect her to serve. Donald Trump is asking the country to elect him to rule.

 

There is a vital difference between asking to serve and asking to rule. Serving the public means working to do things that will benefit the country as a whole, not just the public servant and their friends. It may not always mean making the entire public happy – in more cases than not, someone will probably always be unhappy with a good public servant. That’s because their job is to build a consensus, compromise, do what’s best for as many of the people as possible. There will always be someone who is unhappy with compromise, is unhappy that they didn’t get all of what they want, or is unhappy that someone they oppose did get something they want. But by and large, most people, whether they realize it or not, compromise daily. It is how things get done. And for someone who seeks to serve, getting things done for people is the entire point.

 

Ruling the public is a different matter. Rulers may compromise, but they don’t necessarily have to do so. The job of the ruler is to be the ultimate authority. The final word. A ruler is far more likely to give their ardent supporters all or as much as possible of what they want, while denying their political opponents as much as possible. Because a ruler assumes that he is always right. And when people elect a ruler, they confirm that notion. For a ruler, the point of the game is not what they accomplish. The point is winning. The point is having the power to do things. Benevolent rulers may do good things, and cruel leaders may do cruel things. Smart rulers may do smart things, and dumb rulers may do dumb things. But no matter what type of ruler you have, their accomplishments are really an afterthought. The point is the power to rule.

 

Nomination Acceptance Speeches

 

The words of the candidates themselves confirm this difference in perspective.

You're Fired

He fires.

Trump promises that “safety will be restored” the day he takes the oath of office. As if, just by virtue of assuming office, he’s done what needs doing to bring safety to the nation. He says he is our voice, as if there will be no need for voices that sound different from his, much less say different things. He will speak for all of us. He says that he alone can fix things. And not only in his acceptance speech – he’s tweeted the same sentiment a number of times. Because he’s seeking to rule. And there’s only room for one ruler at a time. If he rules, he rules alone.

Macy Friday, Hillary Clinton, Mark Udall
Ten-year-old Macy Friday, front left, reacts as she looks back at her family after meeting Hillary Clinton, front right, as she campaigns for U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., back, during a stop in the newly-renovated Union Station in Denver on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Clinton appeared at an event to raise money for Udall’s current re-election campaign and then headed to Las Vegas for another appearance on Monday night. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

She inspires.

Hillary Clinton opened her speech – the speech that she was making to accept her party’s nomination for the highest office in the land, where she might be expected to speak of herself – by thanking other people. Her daughter. Her husband. Her current President and Vice President. The First Lady. Her VP pick. Her primary opponent. Her primary opponent’s supporters – some of whom were at that moment protesting her nomination. This is not the opening of a speech by a person who intends to rule. This is the opening of a speech by a person who intends to serve, and plainly realizes that in order to serve, you need friends, allies, and common causes. After thanking the supporters of her opponent, she tells them that she hears them, and she intends to help them bring their vision to fruition. She could have said that the party chose her, and therefore she’d be sticking to her original plan, which was, after all, chosen by voters. But she didn’t. She chose to acknowledge the people who had been opposing her for a year and a half, and speak to their vision. Because she’s not a ruler. She knows that in order to serve, she has to serve the other guy’s supporters too. Even if they don’t particularly like her.

 

This theme continued throughout her speech. She incorporated the history of our revolution, in which people came together to get themselves out from under the control of a ruler and create a nation where they would be governed by public servants instead. She referenced the country’s motto, e pluribus unum – out of many, we are one. We do not unite under one ruler, we simply unite. She emphasized over and over that no one does it alone, and no one can do it alone. Because public servants cannot do it alone. They must compromise, they must find common cause. They do not rule.

 

Defining and Addressing the Issues

 

Maybe you don’t think the candidates’ choice of words in speeches tells us anything. Let’s talk about what they’re planning to do once in office. We can do that now, because Donald Trump, who changes positions at lightning speed, has recently add an issues page to his website. Here it is. He has videos of himself talking about eleven issues, but that’s not the first thing that you see. The first thing that you see is a video titled “FORMER STUDENTS SPEAK OUT IN SUPPORT OF TRUMP UNIVERSITY”. Below that are the eleven “issues” videos, followed by a twelfth one called “TRUMP UNIVERSITY TRUTH”. Before even touching the issues videos, I feel compelled to point out that Trump U is not a campaign issue. That these videos are included on this page is entirely self-serving. Because Trump is angling to be a ruler, and ultimately, rulers serve only themselves.

Republican National Convention: Day Four
CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party’s nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

His name is in lights.

Of the eleven remaining issues videos (and I’m being generous in counting all of them as issues – is “political correctness” really a campaign issue? How about “life-changing experiences”?) few of them are more than a minute long. The longest of the bunch is called “Trade War”. It is one minute and thirty two seconds long, and it comes with the caption, “Our country is getting ripped off. We need the smartest people negotiating for us!” Need I point out that it is impossible to cover a complex subject like trade in under two minutes? And that is the issue he took the most time to outline (and arguably, the one he should be most familiar with, given his business background.) The Second Amendment gets 29 seconds. The 51 second video on Israel gets the simplistic caption, “I am very pro Israel.” It’s abundantly clear that he hasn’t even given the bare minimum of time and thought to determining which issues US citizens face and how to address those issues. The problem isn’t even that he’s wrong, the problem is that he’s not even thinking about it. And why would he? He’s trying to be a ruler. His object is winning. That is the end goal. Actually doing something for the American people is an afterthought.

Women's Rights

She fought for women’s rights. 

Compare that to Hillary Clinton’s issues page. Unlike Trump’s, this issues page has been in place since she announced her candidacy (I know, I’ve spend a lot of time there.) This isn’t something she threw together at the last moment. And, unlike Trump, her issues page doesn’t include anything attempting to explain away a scandal that follows her around. There is no “the truth about Hillary’s emails” on the issues page. Probably because she understands that the page is for discussing issues that affect us, not dispelling notions that people have about her.

 

She identifies more than 30 issues facing the American people. I count 37 today. A few weeks ago it was 31. You can probably expect to continue seeing the list grow. In addition to the issues that you would expect any Democratic presidential candidate to tackle in 2016, like taxes, national security, terrorism, healthcare, and gun violence, she also has some that you might not expect to see. For example, she identifies autism, addiction and substance abuse treatment, and disability rights as important issues that she’d like to address if given the chance. Under the heading, “Technology and Innovation”, she promotes ideas like making sure that “100 percent of households in America will have access to high-speed, affordable broadband by 2020” and “Connecting public spaces like airports, mass transit systems, recreation centers, and career centers to high-speed internet so they can offer free wifi to the public”.

 

Click on any one of the issues, and you won’t get a minute-long video. You’ll get an explanation why the  issue matters, list of things that Hillary intends to do as president, with details and time frames (for example, it’s not “affordable internet for Americans,” it’s high-speed, affordable broadband in all households by 2020 and free wifi in specific public spaces.) Most also contain links to fact sheets containing even more specific information, and links to relevant articles about the issue. This is clearly not a thrown-together list of buzz words and phrases. This is the work of someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about the issues that Americans are facing and what the best ways to address them might be. Most of them are of no particular personal benefit to her – her tax plan, for example, would raise her own tax rate, and her campaign finance reform plan would significantly reduce her own ability to fundraise. You are certainly free to disagree with her goals and methods, but it cannot convincingly be argued that this is the work of someone interested in ruling, or in serving only themselves. This is clearly the work of someone whose intent is to serve the people who elect her – whether or not they actually voted for her.

 

Past Records

 

I’d like to compare their records, but this is difficult to do. Hillary Clinton has been a lawyer, a public figure, and a politician. Donald Trump has been a real estate developer and a reality television star. It’s unfair to expect them to have records that can be easily compared. You can’t, for example, line up their votes on various issues to see how they differ. There is no way to compare bills that they’ve sponsored.

Fat Cat

He was a fat cat.

But it can be pointed out that Hillary Clinton chose to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, when by all accounts she could have named her salary at any high-priced law firm in the country. She chose to work to improve early education in Arkansas, when she could have much more easily stuck to ceremonial political wife duties. She chose to work for universal healthcare as First Lady, rather than picking an easier, less controversial project that would have involved less hard work and heartache. She could have given up when that healthcare initiative failed, rather than working instead to at least secure a healthcare plan for children. She could have caved to the pressure not to speak the words “women’s rights are human rights” in Beijing as first lady – her rights were not under any particular assault, and she didn’t have to use her privilege as First Lady to speak out for less privileged women and girls, especially when her own husband’s administration would have preferred she didn’t. But she chose to do it anyway.

hillary_blackberry

She was a diplomat.

She could have spent her time after Bill’s presidency writing books and giving speeches instead of running to serve as a senator. She could have declined to run for a second term as a senator after the difficult experience of being a senator from New York in the wake of 9/11. She could have declined the position of Secretary of State and made more money giving speeches and writing books. Or she could have just retired. She didn’t have to become the most well-traveled SoS ever, certainly. She didn’t have to push through a change in rules so that transgender people could have an easier time getting passports – most people don’t even know she did that, it certainly did nothing to benefit her. She did it anyway. And when it became obvious that the opposing political party was going to come after her with everything they ever had if she ran for president again, she didn’t have to create a compelling and detailed plan to address issues facing the American people and step into a race characterized by ugly attacks from the political left and right, but she did it anyway. This is not the resume of a ruler. This is the resume of a person who says, over and over again, “I’m here. Let me serve.” She may be imperfect. You may not agree with her. But she is asking to serve you anyway.

 

Donald Trump was born into money, inherited money, and took over the business his father built. He has spent his time as an adult enriching himself. He specifically avoided military service. Let me say clearly: there is nothing particularly wrong with this. I am not accusing him of a lack of generosity, either. While the press is having some difficulty tracking down evidence of his charitable giving, I don’t really doubt that there is some out there somewhere. But giving or doing for others is not in any way, shape, or form what he’s  spent most of his adult life doing. It’s not his focus – if it happens, it’s a side issue. And in fact, he’s shown no qualms about leaving creditors and contractors holding the bag if paying his legitimate debts and costs is inconvenient for him. He can do that because he sees himself as above the concerns of those people. He knows how to get away with not paying, so he wins. He talks about the presidency as equivalent to the Chairman of the Board. Find me a Chairman of the Board who sees their position as one of service. That’s not their job. Donald Trump is not asking to serve you. He’s asking to rule you.

Hill vs. Pill

Seems like a clear choice.

Over and over, through their words, their stances on issues, the importance they place on those issues, and their past actions, both of these candidates have demonstrated their different leadership styles. Hillary Clinton is a public servant. Donald Trump is an aspiring ruler. And if you see no other difference between them, this difference alone should be enough to make the decision. As President Obama said during his convention speech this year, “we don’t look to be ruled”. This is what he was talking about.

On Hillary Clinton, “The Establishment”, and Making History

Making Herstory

Pictured: Not The Establishment Candidate

 

The Democratic nomination has been decided. No, it’s not over – D.C. has yet to vote, and the convention is weeks away – but the outcome has been determined, and Hillary Clinton will make history as the first female to be at the top of the ticket in either one of the two major parties (and yes, I know about Victoria Woodhull and Jill Stein. With all respect to those women, neither the Equal Rights Party nor the Green Party qualifies as one of the major parties in the U.S.)

 

Now that that’s out of the way, I see a lot of angst about how “the establishment” weighted the nomination process in favor of Hillary. I want to take a moment to utterly reject that claim.

 

As it stands right now, Real Clear Politics shows that Hillary Clinton not only has 2203 pledged delegates to Bernie’s 1828 (that’s pledged, not super), she also has 3,720,351 more actual votes than Bernie.

 

Concerned that the popular vote number doesn’t include the caucuses? Go ahead, subtract any reasonable estimation of what that number might be. Heck, get unreasonable. Subtract 1.5 million, if you want. It will still mean that over 2 million more actual people cast votes for Hillary than cast votes for Bernie. And when you’re talking about the caucuses, you should also bear in mind that of the two states that held both caucuses and primaries, Nebraska and Washington, both went for Hillary in the primaries, even though they didn’t actually count. So you may want to consider that caucuses might not necessarily be representative of the whole. And no, the voting system isn’t rigged against Sanders.

 

Having established that, we can safely say that “the establishment” – as in, the DNC establishment – didn’t pick Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t chosen in some smoke-filled back room. The voters voted for her. But who were those voters? Perhaps they were establishment voters?

 

Well, it’s been well-established that Clinton overwhelmingly won the African American vote, and that black women, in particular, strongly supported Hillary Clinton. In a country that needs a Black Lives Matter movement, I see no reasonable argument for claiming that black voters are “the establishment”.

 

Women are voting for Hillary. Women are woefully underrepresented in our government. Despite making up half the population and more than half of active voters, they account for only 20% of congressional seats in the U.S. There have been fewer than 50 female senators in the whole history of the senate, and there are only 20 right now. There have only been 39 female governors in the history of the U.S., and out of 50 states, only 6 currently have females at the top. Only 30 women have ever held a United States Cabinet position, and only 3 have held the highest-ranking cabinet position, Secretary of State. That means that if you added up all of the female senators, governors, and cabinet members EVER, you would barely break 100. In no way, shape, or form can women be construed as “the establishment” in U.S. politics.

 

Early surveys showed Clinton winning with LGBT voters. If California is any indication, that trend hasn’t changed. There’s no way that you can call a group of citizens who only recently won the right to marry the person of their choice, who can still be fired, evicted, or refused service in many states, and who are the target of bills meant to keep them from using the appropriate public bathrooms for themselves, “the establishment”. You just can’t.

 

In April, Bernie Sanders famously stated that the reason he wasn’t winning was because poor people didn’t vote. He was half right. Poor people really don’t vote in great numbers comparative to those higher up on the economic scale, for a myriad of reasons. But that probably isn’t why he lost – data suggests that it’s Hillary Clinton who does better with voters who earn less than $30,000 a year. Trust me, I speak from personal experience when I say that if you’re making less than $30,000 a year, you’re no one’s establishment figure.

 

I could go on, but you probably get my point here. The voters that have put Hillary Clinton over the top are not “the establishment”. They are the very opposite of that. And I find the notion that Hillary Clinton herself is a representative of the establishment laughable, especially as I’ve watched her fight a two-front battle against two relatively privileged white men for the better part of the last few months. What on earth is an older, more entrenched establishment than the patriarchy? Hillary Clinton’s very existence challenges that. Voting her into the White House would be an explicit rejection of the traditional power structure in the United States, the one that was shaped by white men in order to benefit white men. (Psst: you know what demographic Hillary Clinton is losing badly with? White men.)

 

Despite those that would like to deny the monumental step that Hillary Clinton has just taken, she has already made history as the first women to be nominated for president by a major party. Going forward, she’ll continue to make history, win or lose: she’ll be the first woman to participate in a presidential debate, for example, and the first woman to win electoral college votes. If we work hard, and if we’re very, very lucky, she’ll be the first female president, and arguably the most powerful woman to have ever held a modern elected office. And she’ll get there not by way of appealing to “the establishment”, but with the support of the very voters most likely to be marginalized by the establishment.

Why I’m Supporting Hillary For President in 2016

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Not that my opinions have any particular weight — I’m just another citizen attempting to be an informed voter. But I find myself explaining my position a lot online, and I thought it might help me to lay it all out on the page. So if any of my regular (or irregular) readers are interested in my opinion, here it is: I’m supporting Hillary for president. Not Bernie. I like Bernie; I like Martin O’Malley too. I think they’re good men who want to do good things for our country. Speaking as a Democrat — and as someone who is truly frightened by the current crop of GOP contenders — I will gladly and proudly vote for either of those men if they end up being the party’s pick. But now, in primary season, I’m supporting Hillary. Here are my reasons why.

Foreign Policy Experience

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Under normal circumstances, this would have been way down on my list. But these are not normal times, are they? And what are normal times, anyway? Just how many wars are we in right now, and how long have we been in them?

Let’s face it — foreign policy experience matters. I know, it’s tough to wrap our brains around what’s happening in far-off countries with difficult-to-pronounce names. But we’re sending our troops to those countries. And we’re accepting refugees from those countries (I hope we are, anyway.) And we’re also engaged in a nebulous “War on Terror” that is happening across many countries, even those we’re not at war with. We need a president who knows all the ins and outs of foreign policy. Who excels at dealing with foreign leaders. Who can do and say what needs to be done and said to get changes made. And there is exactly one person in this race who has a wealth of foreign policy experience. Hillary Clinton.

Her Record

Hillary-gets

Hillary has often been criticized for “not having any accomplishments”. Carly Fiorina got a lot of applause out of a line to that effect. But it’s just simply not true. Hillary has a proven track record of being able to get things done. To name just a few:

  • As Secretary of State, she was largely responsible for authoring the sanctions that brought Iran to the table.
  • As First Lady, she helped create the CHIP program, ensuring healthcare for underprivileged children.
  • As a Senator of New York, she fought tooth and nail for the people of New York following 9/11, securing $21 billion in aid to help NYC rebuild and helping to pass legislation that funded treatment for 9/11 first responders.
  • She led the fight for the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
  • She negotiated a cease fire in Gaza.
  • She authored the Pediatric Research Equity Act, requiring drug companies to study the effects of their drugs in children. Many children are now receiving better care because of this act.
  • She renewed diplomatic ties with Myanmar.
  • She helped compel the Chinese to commit to cutting carbon emissions.
  • She helped create the Adoption and Safe Families Act, assuring more children the chance to live in a loving forever home.

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. The reason the answer to the question “what has Hillary done”?” is difficult is not that she hasn’t done anything. It’s a difficult question because her accomplishments can’t easily be boiled down to a soundbite or two. There are too many, and they’re too varied, and they span 40 years. You can’t point at one thing, or one group of things, and say “Hillary did this.” As easily one of our most influential first ladies, then as a Senator of a particularly prominent state, and then as Secretary of State, she had very different roles — and she managed to accomplish amazing things in all of them. This is a lady who accomplishes things. I want that in the White House.

She’s The Strongest Candidate

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I’ve waffled on this in the past. People do seem to love Hillary or hate her, and I worried in the primary runups to the 2008 elections that she would be too divisive a figure. But as things stand right now, she is the strongest Dem candidate — the one most likely to beat a Republican.

It’s not just that she’s leading Bernie and Martin in the polls, either. She’s strong because she’s been in the public eye for 40 years, and at this point, there’s not likely to be anything new that she can be hit with that will bring her down. Republicans can yell about Benghazi and emails all day long, but if you’ve watched the hearings and read the emails, you know that there’s nothing incriminating there. Since the 90s, this woman has been accused of everything from murder to poor taste in pantsuits. There’s nothing new here. Those who like Hillary have heard it all already, and if they’re still with her, then there’s nothing a Republican can throw at her during the general election that will change their minds.

Bernie does not have this same shield. I’m not accusing him of having a sordid background, by any means. I think the Right will attack him first on the grounds of his identification as a Democratic Socialist. But they’ll make it sound like a scandal. And it might work. “Socialism” is a word that’s already used with either derision or fear in American politics.

It bothers me that we’re not talking about this now. Because whether it should matter or not, it will to those on the right. If Bernie wins the primary, the very next thing that will happen is that the Republican machine will start yelling about how the Democratic candidate is a scary socialist who doesn’t share “our country’s Christian values.” And it will hurt him then, because it will seem to be coming out of nowhere… they’ve let him basically alone thus far. Which is kind of my point. Even if I’m totally off base on what they choose to attack him on, they’ll attack him on something — and he’ll be vulnerable to it, because it will almost certainly be new information to at least some of his supporters. If there’s any new information about Hillary anywhere in the political universe, I’d be amazed. They’ve been throwing everything they’ve got at her since the 90s, and she’s still standing. She’s not bulletproof, but she’s definitely wearing Kevlar. I suspect she’ll survive the general election if anyone can.

She’s a Woman

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There, I said it. Someone needs to. I’m tired of hearing that I shouldn’t want to vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman. It’s not my top reason for supporting her, but it’s a reason, and it’s an important one.

There have been 44 female senators. Since 1789. That’s it. Not even 50. There have been all of 3 female Secretaries of State: Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and Hillary Clinton. To the best of my knowledge, precisely zero former First Ladies other than Hillary Clinton have gone on to hold both elected and appointed public offices, let alone national, high profile public offices.

Don’t kid yourself. It’s still harder for a woman to get ahead than it is for a man, and the ultimate glass ceiling sits unbroken in the White House. Hillary is a remarkably accomplished woman, and if she breaks that ceiling, it will be a boon to women everywhere. For the first time ever, little girls around the country will be able to say “I want to grow up to be president” and they will have a role model they can point to.

Don’t get me wrong. I would not vote for just any woman for president. There’s no power on earth that could compel me to cast a ballot for, say, Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin. Just as many African American voters who turned out to vote for Obama wouldn’t be caught dead casting a ballot for Ben Carson. I want to see a woman in office, but it has to be the right woman. (And I think Hillary Clinton could be that woman.) But getting a woman elected does matter. It’s not an insignificant thing that she’s female, just as it wasn’t insignificant that President Obama is biracial, and just as it wouldn’t be insignificant to elect our first non-Christian president if Bernie Sanders gets the nod. These things matter. They say that our country is evolving, and that we’re beginning to care about more than just white Christian men. So yes, if presented with a woman and a man that were equally qualified and equally in line with my political ideals, “female” would tip the scales for me. That’s close to what’s happening here. Not quite, because I actually do believe that Mrs. Clinton is the strongest and best qualified candidate regardless of gender. But it’s close. All the Democratic candidates are good, and the differences in ideology are slight. I believe that it’s time for a woman to hold the highest office. I won’t be ashamed of wanting to see living proof that women in this country can now be allowed to achieve what men have never had to worry that they couldn’t achieve.

Like a good freethinker, my mind is always open to new evidence. Should I be presented with real evidence that Hillary is not a good choice for President of the United States, I’m open to changing my stance. But so far, I haven’t seen any evidence. I’ve seen fearmongering from the right. I’ve been told that I need to “feel the Bern” by Bernie Sanders supporters who increasingly remind me of Ron Paul supporters (psst… I don’t hold the man responsible for his supporters — or I try not to — but some of you Bernie supporters aren’t doing your candidate any favors.) But as I read the facts, Hillary is the best choice for us in 2016.

 

Funny and Terrible Campaign Song Videos

Despite the fact that we’re over a year away from the 2016 elections, things are already heating up. We’ve got former First Lady, former senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, current senator Bernie Sanders, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley on the Democratic side, along with a few other hopeful, but unlikely candidates that will probably throw their hats in the ring later. And on the Republican side, we have… a clusterfuck that includes more than a dozen declared and likely-but-undeclared candidates, each one more terrifying than the last.

So, the time between now and November 2016 promises to be a time of nail-biting anguish and heated Facebook debates. However, there is at least one thing we can all agree on — there will plenty of funny and terrible YouTube videos to come out of the journey to the White House. To kick off the parade of the absurd, here are two campaign song videos that struck me as absurd and hilarious.

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