The 2016 American presidential election may wind up being the defining election of this generation, or perhaps the last defining generation of the eldest generation. After all, this is the first election in which there are as many (possibly more) eligible millenial voters as there are baby boomers. How fitting, then, that the two major political parties in our nation have nominated the living embodiments of the Boomers’ ideological schisms, the two-faced nature of which have muddied the waters of American politics for decades with back-room dealings, soaring rhetoric, and greed.
None of this is to mention that the candidates in question are among the most unlikely in American electoral history: The first woman (admittedly the most qualified candidate of any gender, and possibly the most predictable) to be nominated by a major political party, and a totally unqualified, media-hungry, psychopathic fascist whose rise completely upended his party’s stated ideals and revealed the underbelly of horror and hate that was simmering beneath their lies.
Obviously, I’m biased. I find the Republican party of 2016 to be the perfect example of the axiom “you reap what you sow.” Did an orange hate-troll need to take the Republican nomination for their elected officials to realize that, shock of all shocks, their words actually mean something? How did they not anticipate that maybe, just maybe, if they said hateful and dispiriting things about every progressive, every minority, every moderate policy in our country, some people might just agree with them more than they intended? Deconstructing this movement is not rocket science; it’s basic arithmetic: That much hate plus absolutism plus obstructionism for that long equals a voting bloc dedicated to nothing less than pure-blooded uncompromising reclamation of their nation from the perceived evils of tolerance, progress, and social justice.
The true danger, beyond the fact that there’s a human trash fire wandering across stages at political rallies around the country soaking up campaign cash on a run for the White House, is that the Democrats have chosen now, of all times, to nominate a candidate who’s the opposite of flash, the opposite of media savvy, and who’s so embroiled in hate and lies reaching back through decades of public opinion that convincing the electorate of her viability involves nothing short of a total dismantling of every lie ever lobbied against her, by conservatives and liberals alike.
In short, they’ve nominated Hillary Clinton, the Patron Saint of Hard Sells, a woman whose resume is undeniable, whose popularity when she’s acting as a public servant is unquestionable, and yet whose very name causes at least half the country to hawk and spit and cross their fingers over their hearts for fear of the devil at their doorstep. Clinton is a candidate that requires effort to understand. Effort.
Her candidacy bears no slogan of singular ideas that can be captured regardless of the name behind them. One side has “Make America Great Again,” a hideous platitude of dangerous implications, but one which is agreeable presuming you believe 1) That America is no longer great, 2) America once was great, and 3) America can resume its greatness through some reversion to a previous state of affairs. No part of this slogan asks you to support a candidate. Rather, it asks you to support a faceless idea. It just so happens that this slogan is most commonly seen in white letters on a red cap over a grizzled orange visage.
Contrast this with Hillary’s most popular catchphrase: “I’m With Her.” This requires you to know who the “Her” in question is. This requires you to identify with that person. And that chosen identification requires you to understand “Her” strengths, ideally in opposition to her opponents’. This is the hardest obstacle the Democratic candidate seems to be facing in this election: Moving past pre-conceptions, even reversing them, so that her candidacy can be about both her ideas and her requisite experience with which she can implement those ideas.
Thankfully, this obstacle can be overcome. And all it takes is a little light reading.
Below I’ve compiled some of the highlights, the truly essential pieces of writing, of the media’s coverage of the 2016 presidential election. I’ve broken them into sections for whichever area you most require: Whether convincing yourself or someone else of Hillary Clinton’s bona fides, or convincing yourself or someone else of her opponent’s madness, or better understanding just how in the hell it got to this point.
I’ll try to keep this post updated, for quick reference throughout the electoral process. The volume of news can be overwhelming, but whenever possible it helps to find just the bullet points to guide you through.
The Essential Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Election
Why “I’m With Her” and You Should Be Too
Hillary Clinton’s greatest strength is hard to see, and that’s her greatest weakness (Vox)
Seeing through decades of lies about Hillary Clinton (Medium)
The delicate balance of a feminist foreign policy is exactly what the 21st century needs (The Conversation)
There’s a scientific explanation for why people don’t “trust” Hillary Clinton, and one for why that lack of trust is wrong (The Conversation)
The headline’s silly, but Hillary Clinton’s advantages for coal country are no joke. (The Nation)
Defeating the Great Destroyer
No seriously, this is not a joke. (Esquire)
These things actually happened. This f***ing guy. (The Week)
The precipice for women in America has never been more precarious. (The Week)
Hillary has a long list of political allies and surprising friendships from her personal and professional interactions. This guy? Not so much. (New Yorker)
Notice the words of the person fomenting dissent over a “rigged” system. He’s complaining about the system being rigged, then turning around and blaming the people it’s rigged against. (The Week)
Foreign policy is complex and multi-faceted. Unfortunately, some people will never understand it, least of all the Republican nominee. (Vox)
A vision of what the first term of this horrorshow would look like is actually not that hard to conjure. Just look at his campaign. (The New Yorker)
There Is No Third Option
You aren’t “voting your conscience,” you’re voting your ego.” (Medium)
Gary Johnson has benefitted from a lack of scrutiny to become the champion of the third party movement. That is a serious problem. (Pando)
Dan Savage isn’t my favorite person in the world, but he’s right on this point: Third parties that spend mountains on presidential elections but barely, or don’t, put forth their candidates for lower offices are simply seeking attention. (Quartz)
Jill Stein’s campaign has been nearly as sexist as the Republican Party (well, besides you-know-who) when talking about Hillary Clinton. (Bitch Media)
There will be more to come. Believe me.
July 18, 2016