Hillary, on the verge of history

Photo: Getty Images

Election Day is finally, finally upon us. There’s only one candidate who can save this country from an even longer national nightmare, and she isn’t the lesser of two evils. Even if she had a real opponent, she’d easily be the best choice for president. The time has come: we must help Hillary Clinton make history.

Taking back Hillary

Let me start by saying something radical, which may be difficult for some people to hear: Hillary Clinton is a good person. She has a compelling and complicated history—and there are equally good reasons for that.

When you’re part of public life for 30 years, you’re going to be smeared by your opponents. The vast right-wing conspiracy has had it out for Hillary the whole time, and it makes sense: she’s a Democratic woman with serious political drive and ambition, and there’s no greater threat to them.

But it surprised me in 2016 that the right-wing criticism of her wrapped around the other side of the political spectrum, as I wrote about back in June. Suddenly, people on the far left were using the same discredited attack lines to try to take her down. It wasn’t long before the media picked up on it and a narrative took hold: Hillary is untrustworthy, a liar, corrupt, and perhaps even a criminal.

Whether this narrative was due to the attacks coming at her from all directions or an attempt to create a false equivalence between her and the least qualified man ever to run for president who seemingly tried to destroy his own campaign 500 different ways, I don’t know. But either way, cue the all-out freakout upon hearing anything even potentially, remotely questionable about her, especially anything that has to do with email. Email, email, email.

Hillary’s detractors were sure that the mass release of her email would produce something incriminating. No such luck. Instead, we found some pretty wonderful examples of her character, like when she reached out to her colleagues in the State Department to help a 10-year-old girl from Yemen live a better life. These things make the “lock her up” crowd look even more ridiculous.

Of course there was no “there” there. In the investigation into her use of email, she was cleared—twice, just as she has been with every so-called scandal that’s been leveled against her from the beginning. What it comes down to is that her critics have been looking for a “smoking gun” on her for decades, but it always amounts to nothing. That will never end, but her perseverance through all of it should be something that we respect.

In the final days of the campaign, Hillary has set a renewed focus on putting the litany of unsubstantiated attacks behind her, looking forward with a positive vision for the country. Meanwhile, some of her most powerful supporters have been working to take back her legacy and rewrite the narrative.

At a combined rally/concert in Cleveland just days before the election, Beyoncé took the stage with a show of force. My favorite moment was when she boldly displayed Hillary’s infamous 1992 “cookies” quote on the big screen and added her own thoughts about what this means to her:

Photo: Amy Chozick / New York Times

“Less than 100 years ago, women did not have the right to vote. Look how far we’ve come, from having no voice to being on the brink of making history. Again.” — Beyoncé

24 years ago, Hillary received criticism for daring to be a woman who refused to be deferential. Not so anymore. Leave it to Queen Bey, the same woman who reclaimed the word “feminist” in a similarly bold display at the VMAs in 2014, to bring it home for Hillary, proudly, with no apologies.

Beating the final boss

While we’re on the brink of a historic moment for feminism, women, and our country in general, I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay some mind to that guy she has to defeat in order to get there. Lord, deliver us from Trump.

I’ve never seen anything more outrageous than the normalization of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. This is a guy who has absolutely no business being president: you know it, I know it, everybody knows it. And yet, here this guy is, still standing before Election Day, with at least 40% of all voters ready to support him. How could this happen?

In some ways, it’s a perfect storm. Every qualified, intelligent woman has seen an inexperienced, foolish man get to a position he doesn’t deserve, and there is no greater Exhibit A than this election. History will be our guide: I think future generations will look back on 2016 and see the meltdown of the old boys’ club.

Perhaps John Oliver said it best on ‘Last Week Tonight’ in October:

Photo: Last Week Tonight / HBO

“I’ll put it this way: if American democracy is a computer game, and Hillary Clinton is completing women’s 100-year quest to get to the Oval Office, it kind of makes sense that this would be the final boss.” — John Oliver

Given the stakes of this election and the almost absurd difference between the two major candidates in nearly every way, you’d think this thing would be a slam dunk for Hillary, but somehow it isn’t. Talk to many young voters and you’ll hear them say they don’t love either candidate and find them to be similarly bad. For the life of me, I’ll never understand it. Whatever your opinion of Hillary and Trump might be, you know this: “the same”, they are not.

In just over a minute, ‘Late Night’ host Seth Meyers laid out all the differences for anyone who somehow still finds themselves undecided. His cadence makes it hilariously clear that these candidates are worlds apart. And as I wrote back in September, the third-party choices this time around are only a distraction. If you think this all the way through, you know the decision you need to make.

Listen to Hillary’s base of Democratic women and the choice isn’t just clear, it’s urgent. Other late night hosts have had strong opinions about this election, but only Samantha Bee on her show ‘Full Frontal’ truly tapped into the incredulous feeling that we all should feel, with the authority of being a woman over the age of 40, understanding first-hand the kind of discrimination and outright dismissal that women continue to face in the present day.

Anyone who doesn’t feel that sense of urgency, who thinks maybe there should be a woman president someday but “not this woman”, doesn’t get it. They’d do themselves a favor to pay attention to all the women who have lived it: yes, this woman. Yes, now. This is the final level—but this is not a game.

Saving our nation

There’s a reason that nearly every newspaper editorial board, every living U.S. president, and a critical mass of thinking people across this country support Hillary Clinton. There’s a reason that this has never happened before. We know that the progress we’ve made in modern history depends on it.

President Obama has worked hard to build his legacy, which I first wrote about just before the 2012 election in a parallel version of this article. (That article, by the way, was much more policy-driven than this one, because Mitt Romney may have had some bad policies but was no threat to democracy.) Obama might have more at stake in this election than anybody, which is why he’s been out there so strongly to make sure Hillary is elected.

In recent months, Obama has said he’s “really, really, really” into electing Hillary Clinton. He’s also said that she’s more qualified than anyone who has ever run for president. He even said that he’d take it as a personal insult if you don’t vote for Hillary. And just one day out from the election, he warned that we’re about to “choose whether we continue this journey of progress or whether it all goes out the window” in the hands of a demagogue.

As for the president’s thoughts on Donald Trump? That’s crystallized in his once off-the-cuff phrase that has since become a recurring call of exasperation on his part that we can all relate to: “Come on, man!”

Republican analyst and McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt is one of the many right-leaning but intelligent people who have come out fully against Trump, sorting himself to the top of the list through a series of informed, passionate commentaries on MSNBC. In one, he noted that “fascism did not rise in the ’30s because it was strong, but because democracy was weak”—warning everyone that Trump would not just undermine everything we’ve stood for, but everything that any respectable democratic society is supposed to represent.

The bottom line is this: you should vote for Hillary Clinton. If you’re liberal, vote for her because she worked with Bernie Sanders to craft the most progressive Democratic platform in history, including a minimum wage increase, subsidies for college tuition, and expanded access to health care; because she will be a champion of rights for women, people of color, and LGBT people; and because she will respect and build upon President Obama’s legacy.

Her appeal also transcends left/right politics. If you’re conservative, vote for her because she’d be far more fiscally responsible than Trump and she respects the Constitution that he wantonly disregards. If you’re either or neither, vote for her because she is not the lesser of two evils—she is the only candidate who is sane and ready to do the job of president. Whatever the case, you know what to do.

I believe that Hillary Clinton will win. If you don’t cast a vote for her but she wins anyway, you will breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll know that we saved you. So, don’t be a spectator to history. Get out and vote. Be a part of this moment. Because if you don’t, you might not get to breathe that sigh of relief after all.

In the last episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’ before the election, Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon broke character to ask us all to consider the decision we have in front of us. I thought Kate put it beautifully:

Photo: Saturday Night Live / NBC

“On Tuesday, we all get a chance to choose what kind of country we want to live in.” — Kate McKinnon

From the beginning of Hillary’s campaign, I’ve been excited about the prospect of a one-two punch for the United States: following our first black president with our first woman president. Her vision for the future of this country is a perfect match for the one President Obama brought us over the past eight years. She is the one who can carry the torch and break the last glass ceiling.

I know, this campaign has been disgusting. I desperately want it to be over, and like you, my anxiety is running high. But all of that is because of Donald Trump and only because of him. Hillary Clinton deserved better. We all deserved better. But when they go low, we go high, right? Now, it’s on us.

It’s on us to make sure our long national nightmare of cheeto dust and gold is ending, not just beginning. It’s on us to send a message to the world that we are not Trump—that we are better than that. It’s on us to keep moving this country into the future. It’s on us, now, to vote for Hillary Clinton. I hope you’re with me. Because I’m with her.

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