Almost two years ago, I wrote about my hopes for a challenger to Hillary in the Democratic primary. Like many, I’d been frustrated by what I saw as a lack of consistency and commitment to progressive values. So I’ve been open to criticism of her record, and attempts to nudge her in a better direction. Fast forward 23 months: While in Philly for the DNC, I had many conversations with people who don’t necessarily follow politics as closely as I do, or who get their information from less-than-scrupulous outlets, and I was stunned by the depth of paranoia and conspiracy theorizing about her. Of course, I was aware of this problem up to a point. But so many people are still hung up on Benghazi, her email server, even outlandish murder theories I’d never heard before. Most seemed scared of Trump, but were so wary of Clinton that they wouldn’t commit to voting for her. Granted, this is all anecdotal, but it was enough to leave me feeling alarmed.
I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that, in both positive and negative ways, Hillary is very much like Obama. Both have engaged in pandering to the right when it suited them, and both have been problematic on TPP, but both have also cared deeply about healthcare and many other progressive causes. If anything, Clinton is now running a bit to the left of Obama; Bernie succeeded in improving the platform in very meaningful ways. So people who think Obama is fine or at least acceptable, but Hillary is evil incarnate, are at least partly succumbing to a caricature that has been crafted over decades by the right. It would be nice if everyone could celebrate the truly historic nature of her candidacy, at least for a moment.