Ken Trainor makes a compelling argument on behalf of voting for Hillary Clinton, rather than only against Donald Trump [There is only one candidate to vote ‘for’, Viewpoints, Sept. 7]. But one can vote for her and still see her significant trust deficit as something she ran up herself.
People are becoming more conscious of, and angrier about, elitism and how it affects them. They recognize that there is a ruling class in Washington, and that the Clintons certainly belong to it. Citizens also recognize that you have to have certain assets to belong in this circle, and that most individuals don’t possess such advantages.
One asset is wealth and the willingness to contribute significant sums to the right politicians and institutions. Another is having powerful elite university, or corporate, affiliations. Being known for being “in,” then, becomes another advantage. Getting in is rarely a matter of being told, “now you’re in.” Entrance occurs through an unspoken, seamless process of moving through doors you find open because you have signaled that you have these goods.
While it is admirable, the Charity Watch “A” rating that the Clinton Foundation touts doesn’t evaluate an organization on its elitism. An organization can earn a solid, conventional rating as a charity, and yet still serve reliably as a gateway and platform for members of the ruling class. And with respect to the Clinton Foundation, these patterns have been documented; a significant number of contributors to the foundation gained, or at least improved their access to, the Secretary of State and her high-level staff.
In one important sense, the foundation’s mode of opening doors does not work differently from how Washington already works (consider, for example, campaign finance with its questionable influence buying). The Clintons’ charitable entity, however, used a former president’s status to tempt foreign governments and individuals to make contributions in order to improve their odds for access to the Secretary of State’s office.
No hard evidence has surfaced so far that the Clinton Foundation broke the law. But it did open up a new, uncharted front in the questionable practice of pay-to-access. This is bad for democracy, even if it might not have violated explicitly any standing ethics laws.
Hillary Clinton is a Washington elite. She might not see herself as above the law, but she certainly moves comfortably in the privileged circle of people with an inordinate amount of influence over making and interpreting the law. Being in this ruling circle enables her to finesse the law’s boundaries to her advantage. Sometimes — as she did when, as Secretary of State, she obscured the facts about her careless use at work of a private email server — one can get caught so close to the boundaries that one will rightfully look dishonest.
Regardless of the fact that Trump is unfit for office, Clinton, if she wins, will enter the presidency compromised by issues of trust that were at least partly her own making. But, due to her knowledge and vast experience, she will govern with a more intelligent policy agenda, and more stably, than will Trump. My vote won’t only be against Trump, it will be for Clinton — with reservations.
Rich Kordesh, PhD, is an Oak Park resident and the author of “Restoring Power to Parents and Places.”