I Hate Hillary!

I purposely used the “H” word as I did recently in connection with a comment about Lucy Ricardo because the word seems to be all the rage these days — it or one of its synonyms. But I actually hate neither woman. I don’t know either of them so how could I hate them? And yet, there are thousands of people waiting to vote who claim to hate Hillary — or at least to not be able to stand her — even though they do not know her either. What they “know” is a political caricature that has been created over the years by her political opponents and the air-heads on Fox News.

I suspect she is a very private person, perhaps secretive. But that is OK with me because I’m a bit private myself and I realize that on the international stage when one is privy to information dealing with national security one has to be secretive. But, as I say, I don’t know the woman and I cannot say, therefore, that I hate her or that I love her. I simply don’t know her. Neither does anyone else, for that matter — except for her immediate family and a few close friends.

I have made the point a number of times that how we feel about the two candidates should not enter into our calculations of which one we will vote for. This is not to say that character and personality do not count. They do. My blogging buddy, Sue Ranscht, politely pointed this out to me after I insisted that they do not. Even though we do not know either of these two people, we know enough to allow character flaws and personality glitches to enter into the equation. But this does not reduce our decision of whom to vote for to the level of gut feeling. One would hope.

In the end it is the person’s record of public service, their C.V., that is most important. Which candidate has the better qualifications for the office? And while personality does enter in — just imagine Donald Trump in that office dealing with professional politicians and international dignitaries who have walked the world stage for years while he was firing people on reality TV — it shouldn’t weigh enough to allow us to accept or reject that person.

I recently quoted a woman who is determined to vote for Donald Trump (can you imagine?) who said she cannot stand Hillary and that, apparently is her main reason for voting for Trump. I noted that this involves a leap of immense proportions, one that I cannot even follow. How does one get from “I hate Hillary” to “I am determined to vote for Trump”? This leap ignores several alternatives: (1) one could decide not to vote any all; (2) one could vote for the libertarian candidate; (3) one could vote for the Green Party candidate; (4) one could write in someone like, say, Monica Lewinsky — or anyone else. The leap itself cannot be made logically and can only be accounted for in this woman’s case as a leap based on blind faith. At this point it is up to the psychologists out there to determine why someone would take such a leap of ignorance in a matter of this importance.

In the end, however, what matters is the candidate’s record and there is only one candidate who is fully qualified  for this job and that is Hillary Clinton. It doesn’t matter if you can’t stand the woman, what matters is that she is almost certainly the best qualified person for the presidency since the birth of this nation. If we were to like her that would be icing on the cake. But if we don’t it really doesn’t matter in the end.

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I Hate Lucy

Don’t get me wrong. I used to laugh my head off at Lucy Ricardo’s shenanigans on the “I Love Lucy” show. But, let’s face it, that show may be at the roots of the culture of lying that has emerged in this country, especially off late. The humor on that show was based, almost without exception, on the deception and lies that Lucy perpetrated against Ricky. As a result of those lies she had her hilarious comeuppance, and all was well in the end. In any event, so many sit-come that have followed have adopted the same template: tell lies that generate embarrassing, funny situations and make sure the hero or heroine learns a lesson or two but all comes out in the wash at the end.

So what? Well, think about it. The entertainment industry has taken over this country and folks spend the better part of their day and night watching the tube. Sit-coms are extremely popular. If we put two and two together and make sure we don’t come up with five, we might infer that those shows permeate the tiny cells in our brains and plant seeds (if television waves can plant seeds). And those seeds give us the deep impression that lying is OK. We see it time after time on the tube. We know that the used car salesman lies to us. It’s a given. We know that going in and brace ourselves for the tall tales about the car we like driven by an old women and never over 30 miles an hour. And we know the man selling his house will simply not mention that the basement leaks every time it rains.

Politicians lie to us and we know it as well. It’s a given, just like the used car salesman, the house-seller, and whoever else has an item to sell. The politicians in particular are selling themselves and they will tell us what we want to hear in order to get our vote. We say we hate politics; perhaps it is because we all know that it invariably involves lying. One of the two candidates for president in the current race is the Champion of Liars. A recent count by the folks at the New York Times reveals that in a given week he told 87 lies to his opponent’s 8. Clearly, he is the Champion! But the fact remains that his opponent lies on occasion as well. Perhaps it is best to take what they all say with a grain of salt, as they say, and assume that we are being lied to all over the place.

The problem is that we need to know where those folks stand. We need to now if the car we buy will hold up after the warranty runs out and whether or not the leak in the basement can be stopped. We need to know these things and when we are told lies and we believe those lies we are the victims. How do we avoid that trap? Surely, we have some responsibility to learn the truth and separate that from the rest of the verbal detritus that spews forth from the mouths of those we would like to believe.

As I have noted in a previous post, when lies become the norm there is no longer any truth. Truth becomes whatever we choose to believe. I do think we have arrived at that point as a society. How else to explain the thousands of people who buy the swill that is being sold by the Champion of Liars? So many of us have become like the naive fools who bought snake oil from the man on the wagon at the fair years ago. There’s a fool born every day. Sometimes dozens of fools. How do we make sure we are not among them?

To begin with, we need to be suspicious about anything a politician tells us. We need to insist on corroboration from another source when a claim is made, a reliable source. We need to ask ourselves whether what he or she says is plausible? Does it make sense? Can the president, for example, have the power to accomplish all the things this particular candidate is claiming he or she will accomplish when in office? What evidence do we have that what this person says is true or that they are competent to hold that office?

The rule of thumb in critical thinking is that truth is a residue. If we can find a weakness in a claim, if we can find counter-evidence, that claim is almost certainly not true. A claim is true if, and only if, we cannot find reasons to reject it. This was the Socratic method and it has stood the test of time. But it takes work. It requires that we be suspicious. It takes careful attention to the claims themselves and a willingness to think through what the person says and reject those claims that are clearly false — even if they fit in nicely with our preconceived ideas. And that is tough. We do want to think that those claims are true that make us feel good about ourselves. But a claim is not true simply because we want to believe it. It is only true if it cannot possibly be false.

Ricky believed Lucy because he loved her and he wanted to believe what she said was true. He should have given it a bit more thought. But it wouldn’t have been half as funny. On the political stage these days, however, it is not the least bit funny and we have our work cut out for us.