For those of us who’ve puzzled over the FBI’s on and off again engagement with the campaign, it’s okay to heave a sigh of relief. Not because it means her troubles are over, but that there is, for now, no smoking gun. Maybe there never was. Maybe there never will be.
For those conservatives who’ve performed the tortured mental gymnastics necessary to vote for Donald Trump, finding the dark cloud in this news should be no problem. We expect that by now. But talking about rigged elections without proof is un-American. Seriously just what Moscow is hoping for.
The hate machine has done its job well. With so many assaults, so many seeming close calls, it’s sucked the air out of the room, it’s sucked the joy out of electing the first woman president, sucked the fervency from all but her most loyal followers. For the rest of us, there have been so many close calls, and this is the sad thing, that we can’t be sure. As much as we want to and need to. In troubled times we crave surety and with Hillary there may ever only be the surety of hindsight. Looking back four or eight years hence, we will have not innuendos and dire predictions but an actual record of what she did or didn’t do. Will she redeem herself in the eyes of history or confirms the darkest suspicions of those whose shrill voices we are for now dismissing?
I take consolation in two things:
First, my gut that tells me that she, though optically bruised, doesn’t deserve the worst of it, (that nobody with the possible exception of Donald Trump does). The other thing is that she knew what she was getting into and walked boldly into it with full knowledge of how bad it would hurt. FBI investigations, Congressional investigations, conservative hit squads, dark money. All of it arrayed against her. And yet she marched straight on into it. Such tenacity if not entirely admirable, is a desirable quality in a president. She’ll need that tenacity and a few other qualities that only time and the pressures of the office will reveal. The world isn’t getting any less complex. The existential challenges in statecraft, the environment, infrastructure and domestic governance require the smartest kid in the room, not the loudest. These challenges require not just intelligence, but integrity.
A mental exercise for Republicans and Democrats:
Imagine what would happen, if Tuesday, we all put on our big boy and big girl pantsuits and made choices to make government work again. Imagine if this had happened eight years ago. Sixteen years ago. How different would America be today? What extraordinary things as a nation could we have accomplished that we haven’t through inaction and distrust of each other? Gridlock isn’t a viable political strategy. It’s the most pervasive symptom of systematic decay. It is what brought the Republican Party to the edge of its own annihilation. It has pulled the Democratic Party to near that point. If the GOP has no clothes, the Democratic Party is down to its dirty undies. We have precious little to feel superior about.
Weep for the current state of things. Weep for the past. Weep mostly for all those lost opportunities for greatness. Then dry your eyes and work for redemption. In a quantum universe of unlimited possibilities, redemption, cooperation and the path to a more civil society is surely one of them. However remote, the laws of probability give us a chance every two to four years to make amends, to correct our past mistakes. Will we? This will be Mrs. Clinton’s greatest challenge.