As a strong women’s rights advocate and one of few women to serve in a national public office, Hillary Clinton had a halo on her head in the eyes of democrats, and especially females.
Her stance on social issues are congruent with mine, so I was always ready to defend her when someone made a sexist joke about her ability to work in government. It wasn’t until recently that I knew my devotion was a problem.
Clinton is now under scrutiny for exclusively using a personal email address during her time as Secretary of State, while also operating her own email server traced to her residence. To dodge the Freedom of Information Act, she never used the email address issued by the State Department while in office. Her homebrew computer server bypassed the government servers that all political correspondence goes through.
As a journalist, I try to remain skeptical about how transparent politicians are. Personal email addresses have gotten lawmakers in trouble in the past, so they rarely use them. I am a young woman who looked up to Clinton as a vehicle of positive change, and I genuinely feel duped. I’ll admit I was distracted by the veneer of the pantsuit aficionado, just as so many other people were and still are. I admired her tireless efforts to make government a woman’s game just as much as a man’s game. My tunnel vision was on full blast. She could do no wrong in my eyes. While I could take the time to bash Clinton, I deserve a bashing as well.
I made a mistake in believing that Clinton was ethically untouchable. I considered her a hero. I was wrong about her motives, so I see this as a learning opportunity. Her attempt to find a loophole in free information was condemnable and my hope is that this information still has relevance during her campaign. She hasn’t officially announced her intentions to run for president in 2016, but let’s be real: it’s implied. This stunt shows how unwilling she is to be a transparent servant of citizens and is more concerned with saving her own skin.
The knowledge of her unorthodox practices is now on our plates and we should use it as a lesson – now and during the glamorous campaign period. We get distracted by politicians who attempt to be relatable. People liked President Barack Obama because he appeared on Ellen DeGeneres and Saturday Night Live (who has jumped the gun already by making fun of Clinton’s email scandal). People like Clinton because she manages her own Twitter account. From past experience, we should all know by now that the campaign politician isn’t the same as the politician in action.
We overlooked the fact that the Obama Administration prosecuted more government whistleblowers than any other administration in presidential history because we liked him. He seemed like a cool guy. Through public image, politicians often skate past any scandal they wish, and this is largely our faults.
No matter how relatable or humble a politician seems, it is up to us to remember the issues that matter. We should demand an answer from Clinton as to why she deceived people who entitled to this information.
Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor