There has long existed a false narrative about Hillary Clinton — a narrative that seems to appear around any woman seeking power — that she will do or say "anything to win." In 2016, there actually is a candidate who will do or say anything to win, but it isn't Clinton.
Ambitious women must inevitably contend with accusations that they are driven by unfettered ego, that they are ruthless in their pursuit of power, that they will stop at nothing to achieve their objectives. They are called entitled, unscrupulous, scheming, dishonest. They are accused of regarding themselves as queens, and they are described in the most unflattering terms.
Hillary Clinton is no exception. Indeed, she is the rule.
One of the most persistent false storylines about her is that she will say or do “anything to win.” It has been routinely said about her by her opponents, becoming a favorite narrative of the corporate media.
During a primary debate, Anderson Cooper treated the charge as though it were a serious question that needed answering.
Donald Trump Jr. is one of several members of Team Trump who have leveled the charge, calling Clinton and the DNC “disgusting” and saying “they will lie and do anything to win.”
One of my favorite examples can be found in this piece by wrestler-turned-governor Jesse Ventura, who wrote: “This is simply about winning the election and she will do anything and everything to win, even if it means bringing Bernie Sanders in as [her] VP.”
The horror that she might have asked another popular Democratic candidate to be her running mate! Can you even imagine?! Clearly, this woman will stop at nothing!
This is pretty typical of the examples provided of Clinton’s alleged merciless opportunism, along with instances of issues on which she’s changed her position, which is invariably attributed to political expediency rather than the possibility that she has learned new information and progressed like a progressive candidate is reasonably expected to do.
If we want to see what doing or saying anything to win actually looks like, we need look no further than her opponent, Donald Trump.
Just over the last week alone, Trump spent the first presidential debate telling an absurd number of easily debunkable lies, declared he was “smart” for not paying taxes, threatened to turn Clinton’s marital issues into campaign fodder, peddled a conspiracy theory about his debate microphone, vindictively attacked former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, mocked Clinton for fainting from pneumonia, suggested she was disloyal to her husband, and claimed he is the “only one” who can reform the tax code.
All while continuing to run his bigoted campaign of white nationalism, misogyny, and xenophobia, with almost zero discussion of policy — amounting to what NBC News described as possibly “the worst week in presidential campaign history.”
Now THAT is what doing anything to win really looks like.
Clinton is not running a campaign that looks anything like that. She is running a campaign rooted in policy, centered on listening to voters’ needs, and focused on breaking down barriers of bigotry and oppression.
And, despite running against an opponent who is keen to run a race to the bottom, she has refused to let herself be dragged down in the muck with him, instead showing us her ethics and mettle by continuing to campaign with decency and integrity no matter how much he baits her.
That is not doing anything to win. That is doing everything that deserves to win.
Which is not a semantic difference. It is the difference between a candidate who is running a self-aggrandizing campaign in service to his own ego, and a candidate who is running an inclusive campaign in service to the nation and its people.