Hillary Clinton’s number one rule, though it seems to be unspoken, is that no one is allowed to criticize her.
You have to have thick skin to be a politician. It’s part of the job description. It isn’t uncommon to be criticized. I’m not suggesting that Hillary does not have thick skin, nor am I suggesting she is sensitive. What seems clear to me, though, is that she has taken the unofficial attitude that she should be immune from criticism.
I recently came across the following video of Joel Benenson, chief strategist for Clinton’s campaign, in which he suggested that Bernie Sanders is “probably running the most negative campaign of any Democratic presidential candidate…in a presidential primary season…I think he’s been more personal in his attacks.” I have to say, Benenson is either delusional or trying to shape the narrative. I’ll go with the latter:
Even more recently, during the MSNBC debate that took place in New Hampshire this past Thursday, Clinton accused Sanders of carrying out an attack and an “artful smear”:
On the contrary, one of the things that has attracted voters, including this one, to Bernie Sanders, has been his honesty, bluntness, and truthfulness. In fact, he goes to great lengths not to attack, smear, or get personal.
Bernie Sanders is not perfect, but he is a man of principles. Since the beginning of his career, he has made it a point not to be negative or personal in regard to campaigning. Even when he announced his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination, he explained this explicitly, saying:
“I say this to the media. I’ve never run a negative ad in my life. I’ve been in many campaigns…I hate and detest these 30 second ugly, negative ads. I believe that in a democracy, what elections are about, are serious debates over serious issues. Not political gossip. Not making campaigns into soap operas. This is not the Red Sox vs the Yankees. This is the debate over major issues facing the American people.”
In my mind, going negative and/or attacking means the twisting, spinning, or manipulation of an issue or topic. It could also mean getting personal. Bernie Sanders has not done any of the above. In fact, he has specifically avoiding doing so. Many have urged him to become more aggressive, but Bernie seems reluctant. What he has done is acknowledged truths and fact, confronting them.
So what have Bernie and his campaign brought up recently that have Hillary and her’s up in arms suddenly? To list just some of the issues they have raised, the Sanders campaign has:
- Pointed out, albeit without naming her, that Clinton takes money from Wall Street.
- Pointed out that those who contribute likely expect something in return.
- Pointed out Clinton’s tactic of triangulation, specifically calling her out for claiming to be both a progressive and moderate.
While these may be subjects that Hillary would prefer not be discussed, they are substantive, significant issues that hold truths, and are not personal, attacks, or smears. Which brings me to one last point: This is the primary campaign.
The primaries are about choosing a candidate to be a party’s nominee. In order to make an informed decision when voting, should we not be critical of the candidates’ records and histories? How else should voters make responsible choices when casting their ballots? Unless, of course, you don’t want voters to be informed.