Let Hillary Clinton Speak (and Listen to Her)

Here's a one-sentence post-mortem that you can use to explain the 2016 election: Emails kept people home while racism got people to the polls.

You can juice it up a bit with the Russian interference or Donald Trump's fanning of xenophobic fires or Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote, but, basically, that's what it came down to. That simple an explanation is not enough for a whole lot of people. "What about Clinton?" they'll ask. "Wasn't she a terrible candidate? Why didn't she campaign in Wisconsin?" And you wouldn't be wrong to ask those questions. Of course, then I'll say, "Take the fake email scandal out of the equation. Who wins?"

(You might also say, "Bernie would have won," which is an assumption that makes me roll my eyes so hard that I see my brainpan.)

Let's not be delusional here. Yes, if Clinton were president, a whole bunch of things wouldn't be threatened right now: the Affordable Care Act, the Paris Climate Agreement, the continued existence of the earth. But you know that, right now, we would be embroiled in an absolutely enraging bunch of congressional hearings over the damned emails, heading towards another completely unwarranted impeachment. And, no doubt, we would be treated to a number of think pieces from presumptive liberals explaining how Clinton made this bed and she shouldn't have had the private server and she should have been forthcoming and she was never really a liberal and all kinds of accusations that add up to something obvious: You don't like Clinton. And that's okay. But you don't have to like someone to be able to say what's fair. And Clinton has been treated incredibly unfairly.

Since the election, every time Clinton has made an appearance, some on the left and center have reacted with anything from disinterest to revulsion. "Shut the f--- up," wrote Hillary voter Gersh Kuntzman (a name that sounds as filthy as anything I could write here) in the New York Daily News after Clinton spoke at the Women for Women conference. The New Republic seems to put out an article a week on how Clinton is terrible and should go away.

They can't stand that Clinton blames James Comey's letter on her emails, Russian hacking, and misogyny as contributing factors to her win. Never mind that the polls show that Clinton's support took a dive after the Comey letter was leaked. Never mind that, in every case, she is sure to blame herself as harshly as the outside factors. Never mind that, despite losing the presidency due to the United States's archaic electoral system, she's still got a lifetime of experience as an activist and politician that is probably pretty damn valuable.

At a tech conference in Los Angeles yesterday, Clinton said that the Russian government "could not have known how best to weaponize that [hacked] information unless they had been guided." Asked who guided them, Clinton said that "it's pretty hard not to" say it was Trump and his campaign. This is the former Secretary of State accusing her rival of colluding with Russia to affect the outcome of a U.S. election. It's not some crazed real estate mogul tweeting madly in the middle of the night. Why wouldn't you want her out there saying this? The only reason you can view her as less credible on any of these issues is because you buy the conservative spin on her, whether you realize it or not, likely with a bit of sexism mixed in. And, god, yes, it's a temptation to tell those who have been part of our body politick for ages to go into the hinterlands, to disappear.

But I don't want Hillary Clinton to shut up. I want her out there, talking about the issues that matter to her, like Al Gore did with climate change, and that ended up shifting the entire conversation on the issue. I want her to talk about how, if you actually give a damn about elections, you'd demand that the Russian interference be investigated. I want her to get the next generation of Democrats, especially Democratic women, excited and out there and ready to run. I want her to get her revenge on a political machine, aided and abetted by a drooling media cohort, that tasked itself with wrecking her and her husband. Hell, that machine is already gearing up to go after Elizabeth Warren with the same intensity. She didn't win the election, but I want her to be able to stand on the ashes of the Trump administration and laugh that laugh that has annoyed so many.

Clinton should be in the mix, fanning the flames of anti-Trump sentiment, because she knows what we're losing with Trump, with every tweet he makes, with every slight of a world leader, with every promise to the working class broken, with every promise to the wealthy kept. Say what you will about her, decry her hawkish tendencies (I sure have), be angry at the way the DNC tilted towards her, be upset at her Wall Street connections, if you must, but she's walked the walk. And right now, we need all the voices we can muster - Sanders, Warren, Ellison, too - because the noise from the other side is, as ever, overwhelming.

As she said yesterday, "I'm not going anywhere. I have a big stake in what happens in this country. I am very unbowed and unbroken about what happened because I don’t want it to happen to anybody else. I don't want it to happen to the values and the institutions I care about in America." If nothing else, imagine how much strength it takes to suck up the loss, to stand up against every withering body blow she's suffered, and to still want to work for the country. No one would blame her for telling us all to go to hell and live out her life in luxury, far from the carping crowds.

But she won't. And she couldn't. And that should be acknowledged. And respected.

(You'll notice I'm not mentioning conservative attacks on Clinton. That's because there is nothing Clinton can do that would satiate the right's need to constantly try to destroy her. It's been an obsession for 25 years. She was mocked for walking in the woods and going to a bookstore post-election. And Republicans, especially the president, think that any support for Clinton or for an investigation into the Russian interference is about being a sore loser. No, we accept that Trump won. We accept that Clinton lost. We just want to know who Trump's working for.)