Without wanting to get into the details of Hillary Clinton’s security scandal (short form: nothing criminal, and what we have learned about her character and her penchant for secrecy and coverup is not new, and if that is her greatest flaw, it’s certainly troubling but not, imao, disqualifying against her other assets) I feel moved to respond to what seems to be a large number of people saying if an ordinary Joe did what she did, he’d be in jail. Maybe that’s just my internet, but it seems to me that this response is striking a chord with a lot of people.
And on the face of it, Your Humble Blogger finds that sentiment hilarious. There is no such thing as an ordinary person in that position. No ordinary Joe has to decide what to do about the tremendous paper trail of classified, classifiable, potentially classifiable and “secret” information coming to him every day. Furthermore, any ordinary Joe who served as Secretary of State would in fact get all kinds of privileges and benefits, and yes, Joe’s infractions of his own policies would be treated with tremendous leniency. Surprise! Privilege exists! And people in the Cabinet are treated differently than people who are, you know, not.
The less hilarious part is the strength of the outrage. I don’t think the various threads of it can be disentangled—there is on the one hand a largely positive element of democratic egalitarianism, certainly, but on the other a kind of delusional expectation that somewhere in the nation are potential leaders for whom voters would not have to hold their noses. There’s misogyny in it, too, along with some good-government idealism and some ignorance and some partisan polarization and some reasonably high standards and some self-interested hype and some healthy skepticism and some mistrust and some other stuff, too. Some of it is applying observations about a seriously broken criminal justice system that does very real damage to the lives of the underclass (mostly) to an unusual situation that doesn’t really relate to the general problem. Some of it is applying observations about a seriously skewed capitalist economy that concentrates wealth (and therefore power) into fewer and fewer hands to a situation that doesn’t have much to do with that at all.
As we have been seeing, there is a sizable chunk of the country (and I think of all the countries in the seemingly senescent West) that is in a state of outrage about an unjust, unauthorized and unaccountable elite. It’s not a single political point of view. I’m putting together people who see that elite as a libertine and cosmopolitan culture of decadence and the people who see the elite as a gated community of CxOs and banksters. My point (at the moment) isn’t whether those people have correctly identified the oppressors, or if there are actual oppressors at all, or whether Hillary Clinton is or is not on the side of the oppressors or the oppressed. Those are all good things to think and talk about, but that’s not my point at the moment. My point, really, is just that this instance of a risible reaction to the FBI’s assessment that prosecuting the former Secretary of State would be very unlikely to result in a conviction in court—the sense that this was a break that Hillary Clinton was getting that would not be available to an ordinary working-class former Cabinet Member—is yet another symptom of society that feels… I was going to write on the brink but that seems at the moment unduly optimistic. Over the brink, and falling.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,