I’m as excited over the prospects of casting a vote for Hillary Clinton for president as I am being given a pedicure with a butcher’s knife. Clinton is certainly qualified to be president. This country clearly is lagging in electing a woman to the highest office in the land. Should she finally break the glass ceiling she spoke of shattering in 2008, it will arguably be well-deserved, and in terms of symbolism, good for the country. Still, should she be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, my support for her candidacy will be tepid at best.
Currently, Clinton is on a promotional tour for her latest book, “Hard Choices,” which allows her to rehearse talking points for future campaign stops. It has given Clinton the chance to discuss the following hot-button political issues, such as economic inequality, which she has used as a means to posture herself as someone sympathetic to populism in the wake of increased frustration over economic inequality; foreign policy, which she has used to be critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the conflict in Syria and separate herself from the President; and women’s issues, because rightwing views regarding the topic in Congress and elsewhere in the nation are awful.
Yet, there’s one issue she’s notably silent on: The shooting death of Michael Brown.
For Clinton, who has been a national political figure for more than two decades now, part of the challenge of winning the presidency in 2016 should she run (stop laughing, we have to pretend until she declares next year) is to not appeal like a relic. She has to own her experience but not allow her background to dissuade the public from assuming she cannot evolve and be the sort of forward-thinking commander-in-chief we need to steer us in the right direction.
Clinton’s recent refusal to answer reporters’ questions about Brown, the protests it has sparked in Ferguson and elsewhere, plus the realities of racism and police brutality is telling: It’s a reminder of a trait found in many national Democratic figures who one day hope to be sworn in as president: They’ll come calling when they need the votes of Black people, but whenever we look to them to speak on matters important to us, they suddenly have laryngitis and amnesia.
For Clinton specifically, it harkens back to a stigma that burdened her in the 2008 Democratic primary: She is too calculated, too cautious, and not a leader. Yet, some have defended Clinton’s refusal to talk Ferguson, positioning it more as an act of shrewdness than cowardice. Writing at The Guardian, Megan Carpentier explains, “Clinton knows as well as anyone that she’s better off to stay mum and let her supporters make assumptions than to open her mouth and prove her critics right.” Carpentier always wants to remind people – well, liberals especially – that “Hillary Clinton is not going to save you.”
Well, I don’t recall anyone looking for Hillary Clinton to “save” them. What I do know, though, is that for someone who will soon be at some Black church fish fry trying to rally the faithful to storm the polls in droves in order to win the White House, it’d sure be nice to see her go to bat for a constituency she needs to go to bat for her. Moreover, many of us have not forgotten the Clintons’ behavior in 2008 — namely downplaying the role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the passage of key Civil Rights legislation, dismissing Obama’s candidacy as a “fairytale,” and touting the support of White Americans.
Not to mention, you would think a former secretary of state would want to address the violation of the First Amendment and other civil liberties during the protests in Ferguson, especially given her counterparts in Iran, North Korea, and China wasted no time tagging themselves in to rip America for its hypocrisy.
If Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) can write an op-ed for Time and proceed to talk more about the issues surrounding Michael Brown’s shooting, the demonstrations afterward, and the behavior of the police, why not Hillary Clinton? Funny enough, he also deemed her a “war hawk” and said independents and some Democrats may want to go his way over hers in a general election.
Personally, I’ll write in “Blue Ivy Carter” for president before I vote for Rand Paul (though I may do that over Hillary too), but it is nonetheless interesting to see a Republican with presidential aspirations talk race, drug laws, police brutality, and the presumed Democratic nominee be silent.
Some can pass this off as political shrewdness all they want, but it’s cowardly all the same. Hopefully, Black people will remember this when she comes to us. Sooner rather than later.