She's Got This

[Content Note: Bigotry.]

It's an election that shouldn't be close, by any reasonable standard, but it's close all the same. Which is worrying for those of us whose skin puckers into goosebumps at the mere thought of a Donald Trump presidency.

The corporate media have done their worst to level the playing field for Trump by subjecting Hillary Clinton to horrendous coverage which focuses almost exclusively on "optics" rather than policy—a standard by which Clinton would be the clear winner. And they continue to give Trump a comparable pass on his bigotry, white nationalism, and violent incitement, in order to create an illusion of equivalency between these two startlingly disparate campaigns.

As a result, we're left with a tight contest, with both the most qualified candidate in the history of the nation and the most dangerous candidate in the history of the nation having a real chance of assuming the presidency.

Scary times. But there is one very bright spot of reassurance, to which I turn over and over: Clinton is the best person to be standing in between Trump and the presidency.

It's not just that she is exponentially more capable, prepared, and temperamentally suited to lead—all the qualities and competencies that are evident to even the most cursory glances—but also that Trump's egregious assault on decency is deeply personal to her in a very concrete way.

The stuff of Trump's campaign—the myriad prejudices, the proposals for building walls and banning entry, the appeals to white nationalism—is publicly discussed, when it is discussed at all, by media who are disproportionately conservative, white, and male. They frame their analysis as process debates: Is Trump's bigotry a winning strategy? Can he win if he alienates marginalized people?

They explore it in the abstract, because this is not the stuff of their lives.

It is, however, the stuff of the lives of Clinton and her team. Clinton has strategically built a diverse team that looks like the country: "Over 50% of the campaign is female. Of the campaign’s more than 500 staffers nationwide, more than one-third are people of color; nearly 40% of Hillary for America's senior staff are people of color. Regional press secretary Tyrone Gayle points out that these numbers roughly reflect national demographics."

Among her senior staff are people from populations whose identities have been under siege from Trump, Pence, and the rest of their party. Her campaign manager Robby Mook is a gay man. The vice chair of her campaign Huma Abedin is a Muslim woman. Her senior policy advisor Maya Harris is a Black woman. Her chief strategist Joel Benenson is a Jewish man. Her senior advisor Minyon Moore is a Black woman. Her political director Amanda Renteria is a Latina. Her director of state campaigns Marlon Marshall is a Black man. Her communications director Jennifer Palmieri is a woman. Her congressional liaison LaDavia Drane is a Black woman. Her director of progressive media Zerlina Maxwell is a Black woman.

This is hardly a comprehensive list. It is a tiny sample of the hundreds of people employed by Clinton; just a few of the people who have her ear—to whom she listens, not just as political advisors, but as people, like herself, who are targeted by Trump's divisive and hateful rhetoric and policy, by virtue of their identities.

They are people who gaze across at their counterparts in Trump's campaign and see men like Steven Bannon and David Bossie and Roger Stone promoting white nationalism. People who have to hear Trump incite violence against their boss, and listen to his children engage in homophobia and anti-Semitism, all in the span of a few days.

Team Clinton are people who are under attack. They are people who have had to traverse the barriers Clinton talks about wanting to tear down, who have spent their lives navigating the systems of oppression she talks about wanting to dismantle.

This is not abstract for them, and it is not abstract for her—a woman who has swum against a ceaseless tide of misogyny her entire life.

Someone has to stand on the line between Trump and the presidency. And I grieve every day that Clinton and her team have to suffer the indignities and abuse that standing on that line obliges, but I am also relieved that it's they who are there—people for whom this isn't just an abstract exercise, but for whom it is intimately important. Who know personally what is at stake.

There is something tragically poetic about the fact that Clinton, after a lifetime dedicated to the colossal task of dismantling inequality, would meet in this, her highest stakes battle, an opponent who's a Pokémon final form of bigoted grotesquery. But as much as I regret the contours of this fight, I am glad it's Clinton who's there to take on the epic challenge.

There are no guarantees about who will win. There never are. All I know, in this moment, is that she's got this. She's got the fight. She and her team are better prepared than anyone else could be, and determined to fight to the last with the heaving completeness of people who know how much this matters.

They are all in. And so am I.

black and white image of Hillary Clinton at a campaign event, with an expression of resolve
[Photo: Hillary for America]

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