The art of the intolerable

It’s really beginning to look like the general election contest will be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

There’s still a lot that can go wrong. Hillary Clinton might, for instance, be indicted for mishandling classified material on her home email server. Conservatives, especially authoritarian populists, seem convinced this will in fact happen. Democrats, especially those in Clinton’s entourage, seem just as certain that it won’t.[1] And the one thing I can promise you is that if Clinton is elected president, we won’t stop hearing about her, as Bernie Sanders put it, ‘damn emails’[2] for as long as she’s in office, any more than we’re finished hearing about Benghazi.

On the Republican side, the (functionalist conservative) establishment seems to be in however many stages of denial that Donald Trump appears headed for the nomination. The twisting and turning here is far from over,[3] but “[Ted] Cruz . . . will need to win about 80 percent of the remaining GOP delegates to get the 1,237 needed for nomination. [Donald] Trump . . . needs to get only about 60 percent.”[4] And Trump will have the advantage even in a contested  convention.[5]

This is a choice that makes me desperately want to leave the country. Even if I didn’t regard the U.S. electoral system as fraudulent[6] and even if I weren’t looking at a totalitarian outcome regardless of which of these candidates wins,[7] who would I vote for? Both of these candidates promise to continue war crimes. Neither of these candidates will reverse neoliberalism. Neither of these candidates will seriously address climate change.

Trump is vilified as a misognyist, and deservedly so, but in 1975, like any other misogynist lawyer, Clinton defended a man accused of rape by viciously attacking the victim. She has not been any kinder to the women her husband, whom she insists on excusing as a ‘victim,’ has sexually assaulted or abused. Indeed, the well-established pattern with Clinton is that she is feminist only when it doesn’t get in the way of her—or her husband’s—career, and even then, her one-dimensional positions are dubious at best. She runs on entitlement as a campaign position rather than on any demonstrable merit.[8] Progressives, in fact, have every reason to believe that a Clinton administration will indulge in hippie-punching[9] at least as much as the Barack Obama administration has.[10]

Trump is vilified as a racist, and deservedly so, but it was Clinton who called young Blacks “superpredators” and backed neoconservative “tough on crime” policies that led to a skyrocketing incarceration rate, disproportionately affecting Blacks. Clinton backed her husband’s neoliberal policies that have contributed to poverty, again disproportionately affecting Blacks.[11]

In short, I would be trying to decide which of these candidates is worse. In fact, for me, they’re both beyond the pale. In the United States, politics has descended from “the art of the possible”[12]  to the art of the intolerable.

  1. [1]Ben Kamisar, “The chaos scenario for Democrats,” Hill, March 19, 2016,; Wesley Pruden, “Hard times for the Nixon of the Democrats,” Washington Times, March 10, 2016,; Douglas E. Schoen, “Hillary the Shaky Favorite,” Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2016,; Kimberley A. Strassel, “Hillary’s Other Server Scandal,” Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2016,; Jonathan Swan, “Clinton on being indicted over emails: ‘It’s not going to happen,'” Hill, March 9, 2016,; Jonathan Turley, “Clinton Declares That She Will Never Be Indicted And Insists That Her “Predecessors Did The Same Thing” On Emails,” March 10, 2016,
  2. [2]Jonathan Easley, “Sanders rips Trump, but Dems say problems run deeper,” Hill, December 14, 2015,; Alan Rappeport, “Bernie Sanders Fans Push Back, Saying He Came Out on Top in the Debate,” New York Times, October 14, 2015,
  3. [3]Agence France-Presse, “Trump warns of ‘riots’ if GOP witholds White House nod,” Times of Israel, March 16, 2016,; Michael Barbaro, Ashley Parker, and Jonathan Martin, “Rank and File Republicans Tell Party Elites: We’re Sticking With Donald Trump,” New York Times, March 4, 2016,; Haley Britzky, Luke Barr, and Andrew Dunn, “25 Republicans who won’t back Trump as nominee,” Hill, March 3, 2016,; Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, “Republican Leaders Map a Strategy to Derail Donald Trump,” New York Times, March 19, 2016,; Stephen Dinan, “Donald Trump endorsers derided as ‘sellouts,’ ‘traitors’ and worse — by fellow Republicans,” Washington Times, March 3, 2016,; Stephen Dinan and Seth McLaughlin, “Divide-and-conquer strategy to derail Trump’s march to nomination falters,” Washington Times, March 13, 2016,; Alex Isenstadt, “Worried GOP scrambles to adjust odds against Trump,” Politico, March 8, 2016,; Ben Kamisar, “How the GOP could stop Trump at the convention,” Hill, March 5, 2016,; Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, “‘Never Trump’ Movement Dealt Setback After Super Tuesday,” New York Times, March 2, 2016,
  4. [4]David Lightman, “Now it’s Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination,” McClatchy, March 15, 2016,
  5. [5]Susan Page, “CPAC chief: The odds of Trump’s nomination? 75%,” USA Today, March 2, 2016,
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 25, 2016,
  7. [7]David Benfell, “A pox on both your parties,” Not Housebroken, February 27, 2016,
  8. [8]Jill Abramson, “‘Hillary, can you excite us?’: The trouble with Clinton and young women,” Guardian, January 24, 2016,; Dana Bolger, “Dear New York Times: The Real Reason Young Feminists Reject Hillary,” Feministing, December 17, 2015,;  Amy Chozick, “’90s Scandals Threaten to Erode Hillary Clinton’s Strength With Women,” New York Times, January 20, 2016,; Amy Chozick and Yamiche Alcindor, “Moms and Daughters Debate Gender Factor in Hillary Clinton’s Bid,” New York Times, December 12, 2015,; chrisgeary2016 [pseud.], “bell hooks, black feminist, can no longer be a Hillary supporter,” Daily Kos, March 12, 2016,; Maureen Dowd, “When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism,” New York Times, February 13, 2016,; Liza Featherstone, “Hillary Clinton’s Faux Feminism,” Truthout, February 28, 2016,; Alana Goodman, “The Hillary Tapes,” Washington Free Beacon, June 15, 2014,; Evan Halper, “Why young feminists are choosing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton,” Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2016,; Zoë Heller, “Hillary & Women,” review of Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, by Jay Newton-Small, and My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency, by Doug Henwood, New York Review of Books, April 7, 2016,; Kristina Keneally, “I can’t get excited about Hillary Clinton’s campaign – it lacks a raison d’être,” Guardian, February 2, 2016,; Silpa Kovvali, “Bill, Hillary and the women: Should millennials care about Bill Clinton’s sex scandals?” Salon, January 8, 2016,; Alan Rappeport, “Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright Scold Young Women Backing Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, February 7, 2016,; Gail Sheehy, “The Women Who Should Love Hillary Clinton,” New York Times, January 29, 2016,; Donna Smith, “An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from One Progressive Woman,” Common Dreams, January 23, 2016,; Karen Tumulty and Frances Stead Sellers, “For Hillary Clinton, old news or new troubles?” Washington Post, January 6, 2016,; Jessica Valenti, “Hillary Clinton supporters: it is OK to care about gender on the ballot,” Guardian, January 15, 2016,
  9. [9]Andrea Germanos, “Latest Snub of Progressive Base as Clinton Ditches MoveOn Forum,” Common Dreams, November 25, 2015,; Ben Kamisar, “Clinton skips MoveOn candidate forum,” Hill, November 24, 2015,
  10. [10]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Ed Rendell Tells Democratic Base to “Get Over It” on Rachel Maddow,” Firedoglake, September 23, 2010,; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Firedoglake, September 27, 2010,; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010,; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010,; David Neiwert, “President Obama lashes out at his liberal critics: Choice is to ‘get things done’ or feel ‘sanctimonious’,” Crooks and Liars, December 7, 2010,; Heather Digby Parton, “‘It’s always the hippies’ fault’: Why the left treats its idealists all wrong,” Salon, February 5, 2015,; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010,; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010,
  11. [11]Michelle Alexander, “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote,” Nation, February 10, 2016,; Charles M. Blow, “‘I’m Not a Super Predator,’” New York Times, February 29, 2016,; Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Against Endorsements,” Atlantic, February 10, 2016,; Eliza Webb, “Hillary Clinton has a race problem — and it’s resurfacing at a dangerous time,” Salon, February 26, 2016,; Cornel West, “Why Brother Bernie Is Better for Black People Than Sister Hillary,” Politico, February 13, 2016,
  12. [12]Otto von Bismarck, quoted in John Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 17th ed., ed. Justin Kaplan (New York: Little, Brown, 2002), p. 502.

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