Step back from the daily political fray and think about what Hillary Clinton has been attacked for by Republicans: Sending and receiving emails, having a charitable foundation, supporting Obamacare. Oh, and being a woman.
If you really want to understand what drives U.S. politics, consider the Republican Party’s prime targets: Planned Parenthood, the Clinton Foundation, Obamacare, refugees, migrants, people of color, women, the queer community, disabled people, etc.
And then consider that the Democratic Party coalition is built around the party leadership’s defense of these populations and the policies designed to improve their lives.
Much of this election has centered around attacking Hillary Clinton for standing the line on behalf of people under legislative and rhetorical assault by her political opponents. And they come from two angles: That she has been corrupted by institutional power, and that she has been corrupted by “political correctness.”
What is continually fascinating about the attacks on Clinton is that they are fundamentally irreconcilable. On the one hand, she is attacked for doing the bidding of powerful corporate special interests. On the other hand, she is attacked for being beholden to marginalized, identity-based special interest groups.
Both cannot be true, because those respective groups have competing and mutually exclusive needs and objectives.
What is true, however, is that we have seen Clinton, over and over, leverage her relationships with influential, wealthy institutions and individuals in order to convince them to move the needle on their priorities and/or to donate resources to be used on behalf of her marginalized constituencies.
The people who run the world are usually not the most empathetic among us. Left to their own devices, precious few of them would voluntarily or spontaneously choose to allocate resources to, for example, HIV/AIDS medication or mosquito nets or girls’ education or healthier stoves for impoverished African families. But Clinton has used her connections to persuade them to do precisely that.
People who argue that Clinton is beholden to unsavory people in seats of power get it precisely wrong: She is not beholden to them; they are transfixed by her — because she uses her extraordinary gift of diplomacy to advocate on behalf of people in need.
I have previously urged people to consider what it says about Clinton that so much of her domestic advocacy has centered on children, a demographic who cannot currently vote for her. Now consider what it says about her that so much of her global advocacy has centered on children in other nations, who will not ever be able to vote for her, aside from some vanishingly small percentage of those who may immigrate and become U.S. citizens.
This is not the work of a person motivated by unfettered access to power, but the work of a person who wants to see the world change for the better. Who wants to give more people, from different backgrounds, seats at the table. That starts by saving their lives.
(Peter Daou contributed to this article.)