This post is by lachew.
On September 12, 2017, I scrolled through my Facebook feed to see a friend’s status declaring that he was “feeling excited” to read a book that he had preordered: Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir, What Happened. As I scrolled a bit further on my news feed, I saw that another friend had shared a post quoting Bernie Sanders, as he refuted that he was one of the causes for Clinton’s loss in the contentious 2016 election. Of course, I also came across a news article describing Trump’s latest Twitter activity, a retweet of an image mocking Clinton’s book.
The clashing perspectives of these three players in the latest presidential election bring to mind James Madison’s writings in Federalist 10. It can be hotly debated which of these three figures led factions that injected “instability, injustice, and confusion” into American politics. Yet, both Sanders’s and Trump’s comments spurred other prominent (both Democratic and Republican) leaders to scorn, mock, and deride Clinton’s take on her campaign.
But why is that? According to Politico, Democrats “dread Hillary’s book tour”. A WaPo article laments the fact that Clinton isn’t “going gently”. Party figures claim that the timing of the book’s release is the “worst possible time” for the Democratic Party, telling the former Secretary of State to “zip it” and “move on”. Even conservative news sources have jumped on the bandwagon, with The Daily Caller quoting an unnamed fundraiser’s blunt complaint for Clinton to “shut the f— up and go away”.
It seems pretty obvious that these reactions to the memoir “are united to and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest”—that impetus would be the campaign, its loss, the book, and Clinton herself. And these attempts to quietly hush Clinton have effects that are just as important too; they limit the political community’s ability to understand our history from more than just the “winner’s” side, and rob us of the chance to learn from her campaign’s mistakes. Or, in other words: are these attacks “adverse to… the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”? If they are, then we’ve found a contemporary case of James Madison’s faction.
It’s true that this faction’s boundaries aren’t split along conventional party lines, economic class, or any other trait that one of the other major presidential nominees would have suggested. But Hillary Clinton uniquely made history as the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. After this “nasty woman” ended her last campaign seeking public office, she again joins (or, more accurately, re-joins) the ranks of women whom men try to silence.
The double standard is obvious, particularly in the Washington Post piece; apparently, “publicly calling out misogyny is probably not the best strategy for combating it”. If that’s true, then I’d love to hear suggestions for a more “appropriate” course of action—perhaps the author might also claim that efforts to end police brutality may not benefit people of color, speaking out about racism won’t affect immigrants and their families, and laws preventing bigotry and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community could very well be ineffective. But if we don’t speak out when we see a problem, there’ll be only one thing left to say when our community falls apart: what happened?