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Deepening the divide: Clinton speaks out against Trump

by Aaron Betancourt

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton published a critical essay of the Trump administration on The Atlantic on Sept. 16. Clinton did not refrain herself from pinpointing Trump’s reckless behavior and policies such as his response to Puerto Rico, his Muslim travel ban and his compliance with Russia. Clinton recites her concession speech in which she urged her supporters to give Trump a chance and move forward — but with the midterm elections coming up in November, Clinton reiterates why it is so important to go out and vote.

“We’ve got to mobilize massive turnout in the 2018 midterms. There are fantastic candidates running all over the country, making their compelling cases every day about how they’ll raise wages, bring down health-care costs, and fight for justice. If they win, they’ll do great things for America. And we could finally see some congressional oversight of the White House,” says Hillary towards the end of her essay.

I am a big supporter of Hillary Clinton and I do not believe she is the devil Fox News and Republicans paint her to be. Though she has made her mistakes I think she’s always wanted to serve her country and has had people’s best interest in mind. I had the pleasure of seeing her rally in Oct. 2016 which was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I have tremendous respect and admiration for her but when she speaks out against the Trump administration I get nervous. Not because I don’t agree with her, I agreed with everything in her essay, but because I’m afraid of others perceptions.

It’s no secret that Hillary is not the most liked figure in America and Republicans thrive on using her to fuel their base. In Kevin Dowd’s column in Maureen Dowd’s The Year of Voting Dangerously, it is expressed that for Republicans the 2016 election became about the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton. Republicans were strategizing their attacks and tactics long before she became the Democratic nominee.

“The strength of partisan identity-and animosity-helps explain why so many Republicans continue to back a president so manifestly unfit for office and antithetical to many of the values and policies they once held dear,” Clinton also wrote in her essay.

Though I’m sure she has no malicious intent, these are the kind of comments that have haunted her. When she made her “basket of deplorables” comment back in September 2016 calling half of Trump supporters racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, islamophobic and irredeemable the media and Republican voters ran wild. It gave voters another reason to think she’s entitled, cocky and condemns anyone who was against her. Soon T-shirts were distributed that read “I’m deplorable and proud.” Trump supporters felt insulted again when Hillary gave a speech in India earlier this year saying Trump’s campaign took the country backward and she won the optimistic, moving-forward states. Though I sympathize with her position that she, a well-known and experienced politician who was the most qualified candidate in history to run for office, lost to an obnoxious reality TV-star, Clinton has to be careful when she talks about Trump’s supporters. She could end up hurting the Democratic party by making independents think Democrats view right-leaning citizens with disdain and lower intelligence.

I’ve always enjoyed hearing Clinton speak with her empowering words. After reading her memoir What Happened I know she’s had a hard time accepting her defeat, as have I. She’s entitled to her opinion but I’m not sure if she’s the right person to speak out against the Trump administration so close to the midterm date, given her approval rating.

We know that her approval ratings were atrocious during her 2016 presidential campaign and I’m not sure how much her opinion will matter to voters now. We’re in a crucial political time when our country is the most divided we’ve ever been. Instead of calling out Trump supporters, Clinton should focus on praising and promoting up-and-coming democratic figures. She should discuss their accomplishments and future goals, how they’ve positively contributed to society and how they would be good for the country.

Aaron Betancourt can be reached at aaron.betancourt@spartans.ut.edu

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