The Corner

A Vote for Hillary Is a Vote for ‘This Is How It Ought to Be.’

From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Hillary Clinton and the Liberation of America’s Elites

Michael Gerson points out that Hillary Clinton is indeed running on a big issue: A declaration that the ethical standards for openness, honesty, and financial self-interest for our elected leaders are way too high, and it is time she and the people around her be enabled to pursue what they want, when they want, however they want, with no disclosure whatsoever.

In the five weeks since Clinton announced her candidacy, she has had a normal politician’s lifetime quota of scandals. During a brief recent media availability, questions covered foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, ties to a former aide under investigation, the pace of disclosure of her already purged State Department e-mails and speaking fees that put her (as conservative columnist Byron York tweeted) in the 1 percent on a single harvest day in Silicon Valley. “I want those e-mails out,” she told reporters, having made it technically difficult. “I’m proud of the work [the Clinton Foundation] has done,” which is relevant only in an argument that ends justify means. Bland and bold. I’ve done what I’ve done. Get used to it . . . 

If Clinton succeeds, it would expand the boundaries of the permissible. It would again define deviancy down. Americans would have rewarded, or at least ignored, defiant secrecy and the destruction of documents. Future presidential candidates and campaign advisers would take note. Americans would have rewarded a skate along the ethical boundaries of money and influence. Future donors would see a green light, no matter what candidate Clinton says about campaign-finance reform.

I was chatting with a couple of bright minds last night, veterans of the conservative media world and political campaigns, who observed that the mood of the Republican party has rarely been more populist.

We concluded that GOP has some really good reasons to feel populist! One of the biggest problems facing the country, one worsening in the past two decades or so, is an increasingly interconnected network of political, economic, and cultural elites that is increasingly brazen in pursuit of its own self-interest. Progressive elites don’t really care if they live up to their own “rules” on paying taxes, sexist comments or treatment of women, paying minimum wage, forsaking gun ownership, carbon emissions, use of public schools, or watering their lawns during California’s drought. They are quite comfortable with the concept of a functional aristocracy, with special rights and privileges that the general public doesn’t get to enjoy.

TARP was a giant accelerator of this perception; while millions of Americans endured hard times, the federal government was willing to hand over billions upon billions in taxpayer money to save wealthy bankers from the consequences of their own bad decisions.

Meanwhile, the liberal-dominated world of higher education turned itself into the exorbitantly expensive entry gate to the middle class, setting aside quite a few slots for the offspring of current elites. After college, corporate America’s recruiters “sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity.”

A vote for Hillary is a vote for “this is how it ought to be.”

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