I know that I’m nearly two years too late to the party, but I guess you can say that this essay is a bit of a post-mortem on the 2016 United States presidential election.
The more I think about it, the more I think that the biggest mistake Hillary Clinton made during the course of the campaign, was something I initially praised her for. It happened on October 9, 2016.
That was the night of the second debate between Clinton and Trump. It took place at Washington University in St. Louis and took the form of a “town hall”, with members of the audience standing up to ask the questions of the candidates.
The last question of the night, posed by a voter named Karl Becker, was “[R]egardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”
Hillary went on to praise his children. At the time, I said she did a great job with that question, given that I don’t know that I could have thought of anything even remotely as positive as she did.
That was a mistake.
Here’s more or less what she should have said:
“Hmmm… Well, no. Um… Ah… No. I can’t think of anything positive about Donald Trump. He’s a narcissistic, narrow-minded, thin-skinned bully, who, if given the reins of power would plunge the country and the world into such a state of chaos and uncertainty, he very easily could destroy everything we hold dear. He’s morally and ethically bankrupt, who is completely undeserving of the wealth he inherited. If he tries to make good on any of this campaign promises, then I fear for the country, our allies, and the whole world. And I simply have to ask: I don’t understand why he hates America so much, especially after all he’s stolen from her.”
I get it. She wanted to take the high road. And on a level playing field, that’s the right thing to do. But this is not the high road. The Republican Party has cheated and stolen its way to power and are now drunk on their own undeserved power. Scott Pruitt, for all of his dishonesty and ethical (if not legal) questionability, surely is the metaphor for what the Republican Party has been for at least the past two decades. And he was that metaphor even before he was picked by Trump to head the EDA (Environmental Destruction Agency).
I’m not trying to say that the Democrats need to be as dishonest as the Republicans are. Indeed, policy decisions should be based upon facts and evidence. For some time now, I’ve been wanting to write a blog entry on epistemology and the current epistemological crisis in America, and I will write it eventually. But I’d like to see a Democratic candidate for congress or the senate use, as an unofficial campaign slogan, “Fuck that shit!”
Give the republicans a taste of their own medicine. Kick them out. Lock them up. Make them truly atone for the crimes they’ve committed.
We can talk about civility once they know how horrible they are to other people and are truly repentant.