28 October 2016

Hillary's Negatives

I wrote a bit ago about why I'm supporting Hillary Clinton instead of just voting against Donald Trump.  I mentioned at the end that you have to be able to live with the negatives of whatever candidate you choose and that includes my vote for Hillary Clinton.  This is going to be about why I can live with her negatives, especially when so many people see her has being even worse that Trump.  This will be a very long post because people dislike so many things about her.

I changed my mind about Hillary in 2007 and 2008.  I grew up in a very conservative area where the Clintons were hated in the 90s.  I certainly did not vote for Bill Clinton in 1996 - that would have been unthinkable.  But in 2007 I knew I was beyond finished with the Republican Party so I needed to look at Hillary and Obama and I was surprised to discover that I actually liked a lot of things about Hillary Clinton and that many of my previous assumptions about her were wrong.

She was pilloried early on in Utah in 1992 when she said that she didn't want to stay home to bake cookies and have teas.  Everyone reported this as an anti-SAHM thing, but she wasn't asked about being a mother, she was asked about being a political wife.  Wives of male politicians and other government officials have very often been expected to fulfill certain unpaid traditionally female roles like baking cookies and having teas.  Why should a wife host teas because her husband is a governor?  Why is it okay to require a SAHM political wife to take time from her children to do these things?Why should she quit her job because her husband is a governor (especially since being a governor isn't necessarily stable or lucrative employment?)? We need wives in these positions to challenge these assumptions instead of everyone hating wives who do that.

And then the investigations began.  So many investigations.  Millions of dollars in investigations.  Either Hillary Clinton is the most brilliant criminal ever who has been able to cover her tracks for a long list of crimes, including bribing and murdering people who get too close to the truth, or she's really hasn't done all of the things she's been accused of.  I think she's smart, but I don't think anyone is that smart.  I'll go with the exonerations for all the different investigations.

Then there are the more recent anti-woman accusations, including her defense of a child rapist and allegations that she threatened women accusing her husband of assault.  First, it is a good thing that even people accused of the most horrible crimes get decent legal representation.  That isn't a job attorneys enjoy, but it must be done and it's part of being an attorney.  I think it's undemocratic to criticize her for doing that.  For the second, I looked up how she threatened these women.  While I believe that the women accusing Bill are likely not making up their stories and that they did feel threatened, I haven't been able to find any credible evidence that Hillary Clinton threatened them in any way.  Did she enable Bill Clinton?  Maybe, as much as any other woman victimized by her cheating husband.  (For this one, you also have to compare her to Trump.  His threatening to sue all the women who've accused him of assault makes his attacks on Hillary quite inappropriate.)

Next, Benghazi.  This one happened after 2008, obviously, but it's another example of how an intense investigation didn't turn up anything.  I am especially bothered by this one because the State Department often does not have the budget it needs to carry out its mission and blaming that on the Secretary of State is ludicrous when Congress appropriates funds.  Also, I know a woman whose husband is a Benghazi survivor.  It was a horrible event and many things were mishandled up and down the line, but she in no way feels that the blame can or should be placed on Hillary as squarely as Congressional Republicans seem to want to.  She is a Hillary supporter and that says something to me. I am not willing to blame Hillary for Benghazi any more than I am willing to blame Powell or Rice or Albright for deaths of diplomats and US government employees under their watch.

The Clinton Foundation.  If anyone can show me actual evidence that she did something wrong here instead of insinuations, I would be happy to listen.  

And then the emails.  I think she made a serious mistake using one email address through a private server.  But I also believe the FBI is a credible organization that investigated her properly and concluded that even though she was incredibly stupid, and she was, that she certainly was not doing anything criminal.  I also appreciate that she has apologized.  This is her biggest negative in my mind and it might have been enough for me to not vote for her if she had been running against a competent opponent. But she's not, and I cannot figure out why Republicans nominated Trump when they hate Hillary so much.

Anyway, those are a lot of the biggest negatives people see in Hillary Clinton.  There's also the fact that she's been around forever and that she's old and that she's part of the political elite.  She is unwilling to explain a lot of her sketchy-looking actions in a clear and reasonable way to the media which would help resolve issues more quickly.  And she's a politician through and through.  I'm not sure we could have had the first woman major-party nominee not be a lifelong politician with all the baggage that entails.  No woman could be taken seriously as a candidate with Trump's credentials, for example.  Hillary has to be eminently qualified and completely politified (new word) to get where she is.

Another set of negatives for some people are her policies.  Obviously, if you've always voted Republican, you're not going to like a lot of her policies.  That's why we have parties.  But let me talk about the main issue that people use to try to make it sound like Trump is the only option for conservatives: Abortion.

I, like pretty much all Americans, do not like abortion. I think it's immoral. There's really not a pro-abortion lobby and Hillary Clinton isn't pro abortion.  She doesn't say it now, but the best statement I've ever heard about abortion is to make it legal, safe, and rare and that's what I look for when I'm deciding what candidate to support.

First, the legal and safe part. We can't ban abortion outright.  It is a necessary procedure in some cases.  I personally know a woman who had to terminate a pregnancy just a week before her baby was viable because neither she nor her baby would have survived until then.  It was the most terrible decision of her life, but I am so grateful she had the choice.  Even though it wasn't a moral decision because her baby died, I think it was the right decision and that it would have been immoral to have her die too.

As much as I dislike abortion, I do not think it is moral to force a woman to create life.  It is a process that has an major impact on her for the rest of her life and is not something any woman should be forced to do without her consent.  While I cannot envision any situation where I would ever terminate a pregnancy, I would be furious to not be able to make my own choice to continue the pregnancy if I had been raped.  I think it is immoral to not allow abortion in the case of rape or non-consent to sex. One of the main argument that the pro-life movement makes is that the women did have a choice about whether she got pregnant, but in too many cases for a lot more reasons than the way most people think of rape, women are not truly consenting to sex and all its consequences.

And no matter whether I agree with the reason a woman gets an abortion or not, I never want her to undergo an unsafe procedure.  Never.

Now for the rare part.  This is what really matters. I want to vote for a candidate who proposes concrete ideas unrelated to overturning Roe v Wade (which is the *only* thing Trump has proposed) to reduce the number of abortions.

I think the two most important questions here are why abortion rates have been dropping steadily for 25 years and why women choose to have an abortion.

There is a lot of good evidence that the main reason abortion rates have dropped is because access to affordable birth control has been constantly improving over the last 25 years.  There is no doubt that contraception is the best way to avoid abortion.  If you believe that birth control isn't moral then that doesn't help you, but in my mind there is no doubt that birth control is muchly much much better than abortion. I want to vote for a candidate who wants to make it easier to access birth control.

Looking at the reasons why women do have abortions is also very important to reducing them.  We can't tackle the problem until we know why people are having abortions. The numbers I'm using here are taken from this study done between 2008 and 2010.  Most women listed more than one reason why she got an abortion, but these are the major influences.

40% cited finances
36% cited timing (usually that she didn't feel ready or the pregnancy wasn't planned)
31% cited concerns related to her partner
29% cited a need to focus on her other children
20% cited future plans
19% said they weren't emotionally prepared to have a baby (which is obviously tied in with timing above)
12% cited health reasons, either for the mother or baby
12% didn't think they could provide a good life for their baby

First off, it's easy to see how birth control could continue to lower abortion rates because so many women said the timing was bad or something related to that.  Next, I will vote for people who want better financial support for mothers so they feel they can afford to have a baby.  I think it is appalling that the pro-life movement has spent so much money and energy on legal solutions rather than legislation that helps women become more financially stable.  There are so many benefits to that, not just reducing abortions.  I believe it is immoral that there is so much income inequality in the US that any woman feels she cannot afford to continue a pregnancy.  Women need to feel they have access to decent and affordable health care, to affordable child care, and to education so they can get a job that will support her family.

The majority of abortions would never happen if women felt financially secure and had better access to birth control.  These are two real things we can fix.  Republicans have been promising for decades that they'll overturn Roe and it has not happened.  I don't think it's likely to happen anytime soon even if Trump were elected, and like I said above, that's his only idea for reducing abortion.

Reducing abortion is an issue I think about when deciding who to vote for and I believe a Hillary Clinton presidency would reduce abortions more than a Trump presidency.

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