The winner of the popular vote in the last U.S. presidential election has once again invited the condemnation of the pundit class by daring to speak out, in this case about the damage being done by the winner of the Electoral College vote. Yes, Hillary Clinton, despite being a woman and a Democrat and therefore not allowed to continue to express opinions a la the late John McCain, has written an essay in The Atlantic titled “American democracy is in crisis.”
Clinton lays out “five main fronts of this assault on our democracy”:
- ”First, there is Donald Trump’s assault on the rule of law.”
- ”Second, the legitimacy of our elections is in doubt.”
- ”Third, the president is waging war on truth and reason.”
- ”Fourth, there’s Trump’s breathtaking corruption.”
- ”Fifth, Trump undermines the national unity that makes democracy possible.”
It should not surprise you to learn that she has receipts on all of these. Don’t we all? But Clinton takes a key next step, from laying out the damage Trump has done and continues to do to connecting it to “hyperpolarization,” to the big-spending Republican billionaires who’ve “used their money and influence to capture our political system, impose a right-wing agenda, and disenfranchise millions of Americans,” and to the Republican Party itself:
There is a tendency, when talking about these things, to wring our hands about “both sides.” But the truth is that this is not a symmetrical problem. We should be clear about this: The increasing radicalism and irresponsibility of the Republican Party, including decades of demeaning government, demonizing Democrats, and debasing norms, is what gave us Donald Trump. Whether it was abusing the filibuster and stealing a Supreme Court seat, gerrymandering congressional districts to disenfranchise African Americans, or muzzling government climate scientists, Republicans were undermining American democracy long before Trump made it to the Oval Office.
She’s not wrong—and all of that, and the degree to which Republicans have bullied the media into hand-wringing about both sides rather than honest reporting on who’s doing what, has created the environment in which a very occasional public statement from the popular vote winner of the last presidential election is seen as some illegitimate imposition on the body politic. Hillary Clinton was right about Donald Trump. She was right, but the media spent more time on cheap attacks on her than it did on investigating so many things about Trump that were in plain sight, let alone the ones that were and maybe still are hidden.
Now we have a historic fight on our hands to claw our way back to something that looks almost like democracy.