It’s as if some people on the left have to prove that they are just as insipid as those on the right. This weekend, one of them – someone I considered to be fairly intelligent until recently – decided to state as an absolute FACT that Hillary Clinton is a “polarizing figure” and that “the Democrats” had to stop nominating “polarizing figures” for president.
The concept of “polarization” is straight out of a physics textbook. It refers to the ability of certain materials to either transmit or block a different type of light, based on your viewing angle. The metaphorical concept of “polarization” as applied to politics means different people see the same thing in different ways. My response to that is and always has been, “no shit, Sherlock.” Some people like Hillary Clinton and others hate her, sure, but the question one has to ask is, is Hillary polarizing, or is it the body politic itself? The answer is obvious if you don’t sit back and accept the media narrative as fact. Facts need evidence.
Keep in mind, a major political strategy of the Republican Party for more than a half-century is to drive down turnout and what better way to do that than to pit the tiny-but-loud far right against the tiny-but-loud far left? That’s what they do, and too many otherwise smart liberals fall for it. It’s no wonder, really. While the far right won’t accept anything that doesn’t come from their own media outlets, like Fox News, the far left gathers around their phones, tablets, and laptops and only accept the “news” coming from their own proper professional left-sanctioned media.
The modern news media is looking for an easy story, and what story is easier than the one in which it LOOKS as if our politics is divided? It’s the easiest story ever when you compare the far left narrative with the far right. The problem is, it’s complete bullshit.
If anything is “polarized,” it’s politics itself. Not Hillary Clinton, not even Trump, but the politics. And I don’t even believe that is the case. The problem, again, is the sad state of journalism. The far left sees the Fox News crowd as “the enemy” and they happily repeat everything the professional left tells them without question as if it’s “fact.” On the other side, the far right swears to its own version of facts. And the punditry, which is what represents “news” these days, reports on the fight between the far left and far right as if they represent the entire electorate, which is insane.
I mean, for Chrissakes, folks; if the entire population was at each other like far left and far right, we’d all be killing each other. We have all had contact with Trump cultists and Fox News in our lives, and we cannot stand most of them, but we’ve never even thought of causing them harm. Likewise, while the Trump Cultists hate us “leftists” and think we’re ruining the country, for the most part, they don’t hunt us down to kill us.
And that is because, no matter how loud the far left and far right are, we are all outnumbered by moderates; people who occupy some part of the center of the body politic and who represent reason and logic more than emotion. In other words, the politics seems “polarized” because of a false media narrative and those who are ensconced in their bubbles buy that nonsense, but most people never hear about it. However, there really is no such thing as an individual “polarizing figure” out there who actually wins elections, especially president.
You can make a case that Donald Trump is somewhat polarizing as a president, but it is that polarization that will ensure his massive loss in 2020. It’s because he doesn’t understand politics and how it works, and he has adopted the rhetoric and policy angles of the extreme far right, or “alt-right,” as it’s come to be known, whose policies are abhorrent to most Americans, including many on the far right and everyone in the center and left of that.
But getting back to Hillary, the idea that she is somehow polarizing defies any semblance of logic and requires a suspension of facts that is pretty troubling. Start with the fact that we know the election was tampered with by the Russians and that she was the target. Despite all the social media chicanery and the media narrative that Hillary was somehow a dark and menacing figure, Hillary Clinton won the election. She received nearly 3 million more votes than Trump and only lost the electoral college because of three swing states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – that were specifically targeted by Russia, and which she lost by a cumulative 77,000 votes, total, or less than the number of votes Jill Stein received in those states.
Now, since a “polarizing” figure is assumed to be both loved and hated by half the electorate, how could she have gotten the most votes? The answer is, she couldn’t.
Just as importantly, if Hillary is so “polarizing,” then explain the incredible backlash that has happened since January 21, 2017, when the initial Women’s March” drew far more people than Donny’s inauguration debacle? The backlash against the phony Trump “victory” has been pretty intense, to the point that 2018 brought a record number of women and minorities into the government, mostly as a response to what happened in 2016. Could a “polarizing” figure have started that? No.
I personally believe the “polarizing figure” description of Hillary Clinton is
In short, if she’s polarizing, then who is
In the Democratic Primary, the Bernie faithful started out wanting to “influence the debate,” but when Bernie won New Hampshire, which was no surprise to anyone, their attitude changed and they believed they could win. And being unicorn progressives, they believed (wrongly) that the best way to help Bernie was to slam Hillary. Most of these people weren’t even Democrats, but that never seems to stop them from telling Democrats what to do. That’s where the “polarizing” nonsense came from. “Too many people hate Hillary” was the narrative they used and the lazy media propagated that for the masses.
Despite the fact that there is no evidence that Hillary “polarizes” anyone except the far left, who think she’s “too centrist” or “a warmonger,” and far right, who think she’s so effective they just wanted to stop her at all costs, the narrative persists, and it’s pure crap. She didn’t “cheat to win” in the 2016 primary; those who think that tend to imbue both Clinton and the DNC with powers they don’t have. Democratic voters VOTED her the nominee. Period. She was popular. She received almost 60% of the vote overall, and she didn’t even compete in the caucus states, as a way to save money for the general. THAT is how she won – the most votes.
The far right came up with the phrase “polarizing figure” and some on the far left adopted it as a way to get Bernie elected, which was never going to happen. I expect the right to be stupid because they are; it’s why they’re right-wingers; they don’t care much for rationality and common sense. But for white liberals to be so stupid is disappointing, to put it
The overuse of the term “polarizing figure” in recent years lacks two things; originality and accuracy. Those who use it declare it to be absolute fact and personally deride me as being stupid for not “seeing that.” Hillary Clinton has been labeled with this more than any other politician, not because she is that, but because journalists these days can’t seem to break themselves of the habit of asking her about it. They also seem to use the phrase as an excuse to demand that she go away. In the last two-plus years, how many stories have been published in which “unnamed sources” have asked her to go away? Go ahead; name the last time any male politician has been asked to go away or to sit down and shut up. It doesn’t happen.
If you’re going to use that word to describe Hillary Clinton, then you need to come up with evidence other than, “isn’t it obvious?” Consider the actual facts. She was a working woman at a time when fewer women worked. She has always been a strong feminist and supported feminist causes. She has always advocated for children and supported children’s causes. She was the first-ever First Lady who was a full political partner with her husband. She has devoted her entire adult life to public service, and she and her husband run the Clinton Foundation as a way to provide massive help to societies all over the world, and in a way that is more transparent than any charity in the world. Every dollar they receive is accounted for on their website. She warned us about Trump’s ties to Russia well before the election, while the press largely ignored everything. She has run for president twice, lost twice and she continues to comport herself with grace and dignity.
So, what’s so “polarizing” about Hillary? Look at the record, and you see a woman who has fought hard to do the right thing for her entire adult life and who has been savaged by the right wing for almost 30 years. If you think she’s “polarizing” because some people hate her, then you have no concept of the term “polarizing.” The politics may be polarizing on some level, but not Hillary Clinton herself. Besides, in what way is making sure the far right hates you not a good thing for a progressive politician? if the right wing isn’t pissed at you, are you doing your job?
It is clear that reporters and others often use “polarizing” when they mean “inflammatory” or “disliked strongly, and the word seems as if it’s not judgmental. The person who described Hillary as “polarizing” as if it was fact even said I was off-base because I thought she was blaming Hillary for being polarizing. It offers a way to seem passive when it is actually more passive-aggressive. I prefer facts. The people who hate Hillary don’t have a rational basis for their hate, and we can’t excuse such irrationality by blaming it on the target of their hate. That’s just irrational. Hillary isn’t polarizing, politics is, and we can’t let the far right win the rhetorical debate ever again.
Also published on Medium.