I’m changing it up AGAIN!? BOOM!
This time, coming straight at ya with an analysis! That’s right; an analysis.
What am I analyzing? Hilary Clinton’s recent comments to the BlackLivesMatter movement (footage at the end of the article).
Throughout the campaign cycle, there aren’t very many times when you get an insightful answer from a candidate. Either they’re kissing babies, lying, pressed for 40-second answers, being grilled about emails (in this case), or try to avoid talking all together (to avoid criticism — something ALL politicians do).
But with the recent footage of Hillary Clinton talking to activists, I can pull out some some decent information on how Hilary views politics, change, and might give people a better understanding of her views.
I’ll be on the lookout for more of this type of footage with other candidates, for sure.
** Keep in mind that this isn’t an endorsement, it’s simply an attempt to represent her logic and political approach. **
Hilary believes in altering structures — I would call her a structuralist
First, A bit of background on BlackLivesMatter: In response to black Americans dying from the police and such, this movement organized as a pro-minority “movement.” They bill themselves as a movement (rather than simply a group of concerned citizens), and they are demanding a demilitarized police force, justice for black family members of those killed by police, an end to alleged racist policing, and generally want to highlight the ways that the black community is systemically trapped in a perpetual cycle of violence and poverty.
So, at a Hillary event, a few of the movement’s members approached Hillary, and taped a short interview in the overflow room. They pressed her on a few things, and she offered some insightful answers (a rarity for any candidate, which is why I have to seize the moment).
— The big thing that jumps out at everyone, and CNN put a giant headline, is that Hilary claims (in the second, more-heated video) that “you can’t change hearts.” This was said after the interviewers pushed back at her answers, and told her to not tell black people what to do (or tell the movement what to do).
Throughout the two videos, there are a few claims that I can pull out.
Hillary sees the world in the following terms: 1) you can’t change hearts, 2) you can alter structures, and 3) to make a difference, you need ideas.
You can’t change hearts: By saying this, Hillary views people as having a fixed set of beliefs and values that are immoveable (derived from childhood, or wherever). If one person values video games and pizza, that person will always value those things. If another person values guns and church, that person will always value those things. If someone believes that being gay is morally wrong, they will always believe it.
** Also, I’m assuming she’s talking about adults. **
This means that there will always be people who don’t like black people (or whoever), there’s always people who will hate the government, there’s always going to be hippies not wearing deodorant, and you can always count on a felon to be a felon (to be fair, I have no idea how she views criminal reform).
If it looks like a duck, then it’s a duck, and you can’t change that.
You can alter structures: Here’s where her political approach gets more-complex. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but I’ll use lots of examples.
While you can’t make a duck a cat (or a white supremacist a moderate), you can alter the environment of the duck to try and change the behavior moving forward — even though you won’t fundamentally change the duck.
— The white supremacist hates black people. But, if you create a law (with genuine repercussions) against racial violence, then it stands that the supremacist will still hate black people, but at least the law SHOULD reduce violence against black individuals. So, the nature of the duck is the same, but you’ve changed (or at least tried to change) behavior.
I would say that if one were to agree with Hillary, then first, you have to buy into the idea that the environment around you shapes the person you are.
— If you live in small-town Iowa (or wherever), chances are you’re going to act like a small-town Iowan. Very few people escape this reality, and those who stay, even if they don’t care for the environment, simply adopt the behavior of the community — they will go to church, hunt, fish, go to the local tavern, farm … whatever they do in small-town Iowa.
But, what if some successful, hip coffee shops or boutique music venues open up in the center of small town Iowa?
The environment changes, attracts different types of individuals, allows the youth more room for expression, then, all of the sudden, the culture changes. Some of the youth might not want to go to church or farm, and become more assertive. Maybe the success of music venues leads to a community of music-goers and dreamers, and they end up forming a loose bond together (talking about life aspirations, smoking marijuana, and whatnot). Then, if there are any politically savvy individuals, this bond turns into formalized meetings on talent scheduling and community development.
… All these changes from a few hip businesses.
The point being, the environment changed, therefore community behavior changed (or at least was disrupted), therefore the small-town culture changed. The norm is no longer to only do small-town Iowan things; rather, a hip minority formed, and they want to do hip things.
Will the old politicians allow a youthful small town Iowa? If so, then, according to this view, that’s a sign of change. You don’t change how the old people see the world, you simply change the environment, and change occurs moving forward.
More examples of how structure could affect behavior:
If you think that environments shape behavior, then that means that the structure (created from institutions, businesses, rules, codes, values, or whatever) matters, and changing the structure will therefore change the behavior.
Politically, altering the structure means changing the rules, or shifting the resources — as Hillary says.
Hillary mentions that while the feminist and civil rights movements, or gay rights movement, all are unfinished, they still have made impacts, because they changed the rules (laws).
— Women can vote. Does everyone accept it? No. Are women better off because they can vote? Obviously a personal answer, but Hillary would definately say yes (she might be president, which is evidence that women have more power).
— Civil rights laws forced desegregation, gave minorities access to school, and gave them protections against anti-voting laws. Does everyone accept anti-segregation laws? No. Are minorities better off because of these laws? Again, personal question, but minorities definitely have a lot more access to school than they once did.
— Gays and lesbians can marry. Does everyone accept this? Not at all. But are gays better off? I bet a majority of gay people, and gay allies, would say yes.
In each of these examples, the rules were changed, but the nature of the people in the environment stay the same. It’s a personal choice whether or not this approach works, but it’s the approach that Hillary takes.
You need ideas to make a difference: The final bit of insight from this interview is that Hillary believes that if you can’t sell the idea in a simple way, it won’t be sold, and nothing will happen. From this view, lots of people have good ideas, but nothing will happen if it can’t be sold on a large scale.
So, in Hillary’s view, you need to make a strategy with concrete actions in order to affect the structure — and even then, you aren’t going to change people’s hearts. Because, in her view, a mean duck will always be a mean duck. BUT, you can change that duck’s environment in the HOPES that eventually, a generation or two down the road, the descendants of that mean duck will be a nice duck (or at least a moderately mannered duck).
Her advice to the movement leaders is to form a strategy for change, and not simply make demands — which is what they are doing now.
— Essentially, she tells the BlackLivesMatter people that their movement has momentum, but if they don’t come up with policy ideas, or solutions, then the structure will stay the same, and the cycle will in effect continue.
To agree or disagree?
So you can agree with this view or not. I would say that the view is well thought out, and this footage offers an actual look to how a candidate views politics. I would be interested to see something this candid from Bush or Carson (but not Trump, he doesn’t have ideas).
These views are overarching, and give insight to how Hillary COULD govern, if chosen.
For instance, she seems hesitant to give concrete policy advice (something that everyone and their mother wants to do right off the bat — tell people what policies suck), and instead encourages the movement leaders to offer solutions.
— She seems open to fresh approaches, but, naturally, she downplays her history of cracking down on crime (claiming that the policies didn’t have the desired effect — in reality, I would like to see if she profited any way from past policies).
Note: At this level of politics, all politicians have some interest, and something to gain or lose from policy. Politicians are not all about the greater good … that’s not politics, despite what their commercials say.
During the years when Bill was president, Hillary advocated increased incarceration rates. She claims the world has now changed, but doesn’t seem to have any feasible ideas that could change it for the better (for minorities) … so, either she’s acting really well, or, at least with minorities, she’s interested in bottom-up solutions. And, I would say, that most politicians are horrible actors.
— So, if president, we could probably expect her approach, with minority communities at least, to be fairly hands off unless presented with compelling ideas from minority leaders. This is because policy, at that level, can define their legacy in history books .. so the stakes are pretty high.
From the interview, she is obviously uncomfortable with the idea of forcing positive change (because people are the way they are). Instead, she seems to tout past campaigns that had clear objectives (civil rights, feminists, etc), which BlackLivesMatter obviously doesn’t have, in her view.
— She doesn’t seem like a lone cowboy president (making unilateral decisions, like a Trump or Scott Walker would most certainly be); neither does she seem like the type to listen to close advisors on important decisions (like H.W. Bush). Rather, she seems interested in listening to ideas that have potential to change the environment; hence, I would call her a structuralist. She seems interested in making decisions herself, and is pretty comfortable with her ideas.
If I can find a good video that counters this one, it would be interesting. I’m just waiting for some decent footage to surface, because debates are horrible for that type of thing, and interviews don’t always get a genuine reaction.
My guess, however, would be a conservative approach that doesn’t emphasize structure, but rather emphasizes the individual and personal development.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: The approach of the contemporary Democratic party focuses largely on structural components, and focuses on structural change for groups they know are disadvantaged. The approach of the contemporary Republican party is development of the individual, and the party is mostly disinterested in the structural arguments — the Republican is more apt to adhere to individual and family development, taking a more “let-the-chips-fall-as-they-may” mentality. As such, Republicans take, I suppose, a rosier, more-positive view of human nature (assuming that individuals can grow and change for the better), and find individual development (classically liberal principles) to be the key to prosperity.
Regardless, the footage is interesting, so check it out: