The Hypocrisy of Political Activists on Negative Campaigning

We’re inside of two weeks from an election here in Pennsylvania, and there are primary fights breaking out for Congress all over the place. I know you’ll find this shocking- but there is negative campaigning going on. This is as predictable as the sun rising.

Everybody says they hate negative campaigning- at least when it’s done against their candidate. Everybody hates when their candidate gets hit. When it’s their opponent? That’s fair game. That’s their record. We’re all good with that. When you’re calling the opponent a crook, a racist, a Republican, that’s just fine and dandy truth. Just don’t hit my candidate, right?

If you’re cool with shadow money when it’s convenient, anonymous Facebooks and Tumblers against the opponent, and attack mail when it’s helpful, please spare me the speech about negative campaigning. We all do it, because it works. Spare me your hypocrisy, I’m not sympathetic.

Stop Comparing Other Candidates to Hillary

Yale Law grad. First Lady of Arkansas. First Lady of the United States. U.S. Senator from New York, who helped heal her state after 9/11. Secretary of State. Democratic nominee for President. Winner of the popular vote for President by 2.9 million votes.

And that’s the short version of her bio.

I worked for Hillary Clinton in 2008. I worked for Hillary Clinton again in 2016. I would venture that she had the best on-paper resume to be President since at least George H.W. Bush, if not Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. She had the foreign policy chops, and the domestic policy credentials on paper that one would want. She had big achievements, like pushing through CHIP in the 1990’s. She was tough. She was compassionate. She was ready for the job.

Hillary also encountered epic pushback in her career. She was investigated repeatedly, and cast as corrupt, even though she never faced charges on any of them. Her appearance was ridiculed. Her voice was called shrill. She was cast as corporate, corrupt, and evil for taking donations. Her hawkish record was cast as opportunistic, as others were not, with the same record. Hillary constantly faced a double-standard. She constantly faced explicit and implicit sexism. I’m not saying she handled it all perfect, or that she never made it worse for herself. I’m saying she faced uncharted waters her whole career. Hillary Clinton is a unique political figure in our history.

Almost no one has a resume like Hillary Clinton. Almost no one has faced the scrutiny Hillary Clinton has. Almost no one has had such a long public career as Hillary Clinton. Almost no one has faced the sexism Hillary Clinton has.

There are a lot of candidates this year trying to tie the scrutiny they are facing to the scrutiny Hillary faced. Some are doing so based on their long career and resumes. Some are doing so because of their gender. Some are doing so because they are viewed as politically moderate. Some are doing so because they are Democrats.

None of them are Hillary Clinton.

There are record numbers of Democratic candidates, of female candidates, of virtually any kind of candidates in 2018. Donald Trump has awakened something in our politics, and people are stepping forward to answer it. Not all of those candidates are qualified, ethical, electable, or really who they say they are. Some of them need to be scrutinized. Some deserve to be scrutinized. To be fair, most of the people stepping forward are honest citizens looking to make a difference. We really shouldn’t treat anyone like we treated Hillary Clinton. Let’s not pretend that many other candidates are being treated like Hillary though.