What Hillary Can Learn from “the Donald”

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I’m sitting at my desk this morning, wondering: What happened? You may have never been the perfect candidate, but you were a smart leader, with a moral compass on behalf of the oppressed, whose instincts could mostly be trusted. You would listen to reason. And you were walloping any of the boys the politicos might send up against you.

But now, Bernie Sanders has won the hearts of the justice voters. Vice President Biden is being drafted by voters who long for some real heart. And the GOP has gone for a straight-talking reality TV star.

How the heck did we get here?

I think I have an idea. And just maybe, it can help you recover a bit of your mojo. You see, for months now, pundits have dismissed all the reckless crazies who shoot off their mouths at the drop of a hat. Trump was history when he called millions among us rapists. Cruz was pronounced dead when he likened Obamacare to Nazi Germany. Biden’s loose lips got him way out in front of the President on marriage equality. And Sanders foolishly welcomed the “socialist” epithet.

Those guys are all history, right? Actually, not right. Whatever we may think about immigration, health care, marriage or any other underlying issue, it seems that we voters sort of like people who will speak their minds. Even buffoons might be given a pass if voters think they’re telling it like it is.

Picture1And that brings me to your recent comments about the Keystone XL Pipeline. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that almost no one believes you’re dodging this issue because of a valid technical constraint. You’ve said the “I have to keep my opinions to myself” because you were once involved in reviewing TransCanada’s application to build the tar sands pipeline through the middle of our country.

“I want to wait and see” what President Obama and Secretary Kerry decide, you said.

Well, of course you want to wait and see. But wait-and-see has been on a bit of a losing streak these days. We voters want to know what leaders really think. And your dodges make tend to make us suspect the worst, even if we’re wrong.

The worst? It’s not lost on us that ExxonMobil, a huge tar sands investor, has contributed heavily to the Clinton Foundation. We saw that as Secretary of State, you quietly supported the pipeline. We held our noses when one of your key campaign managers even went on to become a well-paid lobbyist for TransCanada. So we nervously ask ourselves, has she been bought off by Exxon? By TransCanada? By Stephen Harper’s Canadian petro-state?

Look, maybe you really once liked this awful project. But that was a long time ago. How were you to know that thousands of your countrymen were willing to be arrested in their efforts to stop it? That was before some 30,000 “pipeline fighters” locked arms around the White House, and before 400,000 of us marched through New York City to demand real climate action. That was before your own president vowed to reject the permit if Keystone XL would contribute to climate change – which it clearly will.

So maybe it’s time to take a lesson from “the Donald,” and all those other shoot-from-the-hip candidates at either end of the spectrum. Tell us what you’re thinking about Keystone XL. Tell us now. I’m just sure you don’t imagine that your silence is going to win you the drill-baby-drill vote. But it may cost you the support of millions of Americans who are attracted to people who seem to be speaking their minds – whatever may be in there.

You took a step in this direction last week, and I personally think it helped you. Even though President Obama has approved Shell’s oil drilling in the Arctic, you went out on a limb and opposed your former boss. “The Arctic is a unique treasure,” you said. “Given what we know, it’s not worth the risk of drilling.”

Hey, that’s good. The President may not be happy. Shell and the Trump crowd may be seething. But voters heard something different than “wait and see.” I bet you’re standing a little taller for all that.

Now, how about trying it out on that Canadian tar sands pipeline? We will feel much better about you, I’m sure.


J. Elwood

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