I read the most absurd opinion piece yesterday, written by Peggy Drexler and published by CNN (of course), entitled “The Surprising Secret to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Marriage“. It was quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read, and that is truly saying something. The point and purpose of the article was to outline how the Clinton’s marriage is the ideal modern role model for marriage, and how people can look at how they have walked through many challenges and difficult times and yet stayed together as proof that if she can keep her marriage together, then should she win the presidency the country is in capable hands.
I was literally dumbfounded as I read this. When Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president in the 2016 election cycle, the strength and example of her marriage was not something that I, nor any sane person in America, would ever have assumed would have been one of her selling points. Americans know that Bill Clinton is a chronic womanizer and has had numerous affairs on his wife. They know that women have accused him of sexual assault and even rape. And many assume that the only reason Hillary stayed with him was for her own political gain (Drexler calls people who have made that assumption “cynical”. The word “realistic” also works.) In fact, it was kind of taken as a give-in that anyone supporting Hillary for president would just kind of overlook her marriage, or not focus on it, or state that it is not a deal-breaker in their support for her. All of those are actually fine arguments to make. No one in their right mind would have thought that you would have people actually coming out with articles talking about what a wonderful marriage they have, built on love and mutual respect. For most Americans, a spouse who has committed infidelities throughout a couple’s marriage is not exemplary of what marriage should be. Having a husband who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault is not just the normal everyday challenges that most couples face. She uses the term “modern” marriage, as if that makes it any more acceptable. No, Ms. Drexler, this is not and should not be exemplary of any marriage in America, now or ever.
However, this article just further proves something that I have been saying about our society for a long time: Americans have a bad habit of forming our opinions of situations based on the people involved, and not on the actions or facts. We have a bad habit of defending the indefensible when the person committing the act is an ally, and condemning the actions when the person committing them is an adversary. The fact that so many women in America who claim to be feminists, claim to fight against “rape culture“, claim to be for women’s rights, can support and be excited about Hillary being the first woman president, and also have a positive view of Bill Clinton, is a shining example of this problem.
For the last 8 years, this has been my biggest problem with Obama’s supporters. No matter what he said, what he did, what situations in our nation or in our world came to, his proponents defended him, with only a few exceptions. His supporters have defended his unconstitutional executive orders, even though the courts have struck them down. They have defended his politicizing of our country’s tragedies, while simultaneously condemning conservatives who speak about political issues too close to a tragedy. They have defended his foreign policy, even through the rise and spread of ISIS, and the disasters that are Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. They defended him when it took 5 entire days to order the flags in the country down to half staff after the military murders in Chattanooga, but was able to light up the white house in rainbow colors the night of the Supreme Court Gay Marriage ruling. There are even people who are still defending his “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” promise that was a complete and utter lie.
In the 2016 election cycle, this mentality has now spilled over to both sides of the aisle. This weekend Hillary Clinton was on Chris Wallace’s Sunday show and flat out said, and I quote, “Director Comey said my answers were truthful” when referring to what she told the American people about sending classified information over her unsecured email server. No, no he didn’t. In fact, he blatantly said just the opposite. But as I sit and listen to her flat out lie, once again, directly to the American people, I ask myself, “how can she get away with it?”.
The answer is this: Tomorrow, when some of the media are critical of her on her lies, she will have her people go out and spin it, and her ardent followers will believe the spin and continue to defend and justify what she said. The TRUTH is that she told a flat out lie. James Comey said the direct opposite of what she claimed. But it doesn’t matter. Her people will defend all her lies, while calling out any time Trump lies, because she is their candidate and he is not.
The strongest Trump supporters do the exact same thing. In the Michelle Fields incident, when Fields accused then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of grabbing her roughly by the arm and pulling her away from Trump, Trump’s campaign came out and said the incident never happened, that Fields was lying and that Lewandowski never touched her. Then a video emerged showing Lewandowski grabbing Michelle Fields by the arm and pulling her away from Trump. The Trump supporters proceeded to say that Fields exaggerated the incident, that he didn’t grab her that hard and that it was hardly a situation worth filing a police report over. Ok, maybe… but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Trump campaign flat out LIED about the incident to begin with. If you would have told most of Trump’s supporters two years ago that there was a candidate running for president in 2016 that said that George W. Bush lied to get us into Iraq, those people would have assumed it was the Democratic candidate saying that, and probably would have ridiculed that person for “blaming Bush for everything”. If you would have told most of Donald Trump’s supporters two years ago that someone running for president would have said that John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured, those people would have been infuriated. But throughout the primary, when Trump said one ridiculous thing after another, his supporters not only stuck with him, but actually defended the ridiculous things he was saying.
So many Americans are unhappy with our two choices of candidates in this election, but the truth is that it is our fault that we have come down to these two people. Americans need to stop making excuses for terrible behavior just because the person committing the act is someone we like, while simultaneously condemning the person we don’t like for their bad actions. We need to make judgments and stand up for a set standard of morals, values, and principles, and call out everyone equally for doing things that are offensive to those standards. I can respect someone who says honestly that Trump’s actions in the Michelle Fields case were out of line, that acknowledge that his campaign clearly lied, but who says that based on Trump’s policy positions, and their fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency, they will choose to support him anyway and not make that a deal breaker. I can respect someone who acknowledges Hillary Clinton is a liar and is corrupt but says they will vote for her anyway because her policies are more closely aligned with theirs. I may disagree, but I can respect that. After all, realistically, one of these two is going to be president, so our options are extremely limited. What I cannot respect, what I cannot understand, are how so many Americans can defend the bad actions of these two candidates because they are choosing to support them. No candidate is perfect, and you are not going to agree with everything a candidate says or approve of everything a candidate does. This is true. However, it seems that in today’s society, we are moving further and further away from acknowledging and calling out the candidates, even our own, for bad behavior, and moving to a point where we are defending ridiculous and sometimes even criminal behavior, just for the sake of politics.
The fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the two candidates we ended up with in this election cycle is a direct result of this behavior on the part of the American people. We pick a side, and defend that side at all costs, including the cost of our own values, principles, and integrity. As long as Americans engage in this practice, as long as we allow double standards to take place, as long as we have political pundits putting out spin for their candidates that Americans blindly repeat, we will continue to have terrible politicians representing us.