Acknowledging my own problematic biases while judging those of the other side
My blissful Friday afternoon of sitting in a Brooklyn cafe writing personal odes to the next President of the United States was rudely interrupted by some unscheduled programming in the form of a late October Surprise.
My fellow nasty woman Louisa quickly sent me a message:
In all honesty, I didn’t know what to think. How could I? There wasn’t enough of this new “information” on which to base any objective opinion: all we knew was that the F.B.I. was looking at some emails that we couldn’t actually read- or even know the content of. As Clinton said in a press conference, “Your guess is as good as mine… and I don’t think that’s good enough”.
But, I kept telling myself, Clinton had been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing on this already- after so many months of investigation, surely the odds of Weiner’s computer containing anything that hadn’t already been turned over were minuscule; surely they could only lead to the same outcome.
As someone who despises echo chambers, my own self-comforting self-talk in the face of what was completely inconclusive information mildly disturbed me.
But not nearly so much as Twitter did. The confirmation bias was…deplorable.
Pray do tell, what has she done Jodie? What new information has come to light from this criminally cryptic letter that the rest of us should open our eyes to???
None of those people who seemed convinced that this time- this time- she was going to prison, were able to articulate what they thought this new evidence might actually be.
The comments in the media were just as bad.
“The F.B.I.’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be.”- Reince Priebus, the Republican committee chairman
Let me fix that for you Reince:
“The F.B.I.’s decision to
reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server “take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation” just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must could be.”
“I think it’s the biggest story since Watergate. I think this changes everything.” – Trump
No, Donald, you WANT it to be as big as Watergate. You WANT it to change everything. That’s… not the same thing.
Clinton herself probably best summed up the bias with which people on both sides were reading this, when asked in a press conference what she would say to voters who don’t trust her.
“I think people a long time ago made up their minds about the emails. I think that’s factored into what people think,” she said.
Factored into it, or completely defined it. One or the other.
I mock, but I too was biased in my reaction to the new “evidence”. It feels like at this point everyone has made up their minds about the entire character of the candidates, and cemented it in concrete: nothing will sway it now (just have the damn election, America).
In the New Yorker Radio Hour last week, a panel of experts from across the political spectrum chatted about a Trump Presidency. Roger Stone, a political consultant and rigid Trump voter, was asked, “what would he have to do, frankly, Roger, to lose your vote?” He had just admitted that he was unhappy with his campaign against the Central Park Five and his advocation of Stop-and-Frisk but was still supporting him ; what would be enough?
He didn’t answer the question (he changed the subject to ISIS), because I’m sure the answer is… nothing. Could you imagine at this point how big of a scandal would be needed to be a dealbreaker for a Trump diehard who has made it this far?
The question got me thinking however; what would it take for Clinton to lose me? It probably wouldn’t be email-related, if my self-affirming thoughts yesterday are anything to go by.
I am loathe to admit that my love is fairly unshakable… but by no means unconditional. Here is a list of things that would be dealbreakers for me:
If she actually did found ISIS
Trump likes to claim that Obama and Clinton “invented” ISIS, by pulling out of the Middle East too quickly and creating a security vaccum, among other reasons (using that Trump logic in which Hillary Clinton is responsible for every bad thing that ever happened, including his own tax avoidance).
Let’s just start by noting that if Clinton and Obama actually did co-found an international terrorist organisation, well, that would be incredibly impressive for two such busy people. But you know what they say: if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Or the President and Secretary of State of the United States of America.
But if Hillary really was the founder ISIS, I imagine the terrorist organisation would be a hell of a lot more organised. Hillary Clinton doesn’t mess around.
For this reason (and a few hundred others), I don’t believe HRC could be the founder of ISIS. But if she was, it be pretty uncool of her.
If she turned out to be Ursula from the Little Mermaid, only pretending to be human to win a bet with a mermaid and take over the Ocean
Slightly more probable than the ISIS theory is the possibility that Clinton is actually a sea witch trying to settle an old score with King Trident by disguising herself as a human being (and spending years on the public stage) in order to win a bet with his daughter.
If someone can show me footage of Hillary looking in the mirror to reveal a betentacled woman singing “soon I’ll have that little White House and the Ocean will be mine” and cackling to herself, I will stop supporting Hillary at once.
Truly though, should it be revealed that Hillary didn’t actually believe in any of the causes she has spent her life fighting for, and all that blood, sweat and tears were merely for show, part of a ploy to get to the presidency, we would have a problem. Let’s be real though- Hillary’s not that good of an actress.
If she rigged the election
The suggestion is nonsensical, and the extent to which people are willing to believe it (Roger Stone on the New Yorker panel seemed to see the burden of proof as on those proving it hadn’t been rigged, wanting corroborating exit polls) is the epitome of people refusing to hear truths that they find inconvenient. These voters are actually pre-emptively conditioning themselves to not accept an undesirable reality.
But, look, if they’re right, and it does come out on November 9 that President-elect Clinton had paid hackers to rig the election, I’d be pretty mad. I might even stop writing this blog.
Here is a list of things that, if confirmed, would not shake my Clinton affection.
I call it, the “I don’t give a fuck” list:
If she stuck by Bill because of some secret Machiavellian pact in which they would both be President
Conspiracy theorists seem to love this one: the Clintons marriage is a sham, a marriage of political convenience in which they have committed to supporting one another’s ambitions into the White House. Eight years for you, eight years for me. Because obviously the idea that a betrayed but strong-minded woman stuck by her husband because she loved him is very hard to comprehend (I on the other hand find it hard to comprehend that she planned/saw this far into the future to know that the man she was marrying would become president- that is some foresight).
This is often accompanied by the “Hillary Clinton is a lesbian” theory, which explains why Bill sleeps around. Hmm.
I don’t believe its true, but let’s imagine for a second that Hillary and Bill do have a pact (and Hillary is, in fact, a secret lesbian): I don’t give a flying fuck.
People get married for all sorts of reasons. Getting married to a fellow egomaniac to increase your combined power isn’t romantic but… it kind of is.
And if this is what it took to finally get a woman into the Oval Office, a scheming pact from a White House returnee of impeccable qualifications, if it takes such a politically shrewd pact and mind to in order to break the ceiling, that’s cool with me.
If Bill Clinton was a rapist
Let’s stop acting like a husbands’ actions have any bearing on their wives ability to run a country.
Bill Clinton has clearly had some questionable sex under some questionable circumstances and I don’t condone a great deal of the behaviour- but what relevance will those actions have on Hillary’s presidency?
Bill’s sexual actions do not affect my views on Hillary, other than to make her more sympathetic, and I’m really not sure why Trump keeps trying to use them.
I don’t give a fuck* Donald.
*in the context of Hillary’s campaign; I certainly do give many fucks on other levels that a powerful man may have abused women and gotten away with it. Probably a few more fucks than Donald does, or else he wouldn’t be using them this way.
Finally, I do not care that Hillary Clinton used a private email server. I just. don’t. care.
I am biased when it comes to Hillary’s emails. I chose to assume on Friday that there was nothing to find in these emails (when in truth I knew no better than any one else). I chose to assume that the reason Hillary hasn’t been found guilty of any wrongdoing yet is because she hasn’t done anything wrong.
I’m uncomfortable with that bias, but I’m also relieved I can see and acknowledge it. Can you, @carrieksada?