Hillary Clinton, The Reagans and LGBT Rights

Recently, Hillary Clinton walked back her previous comments concerning the Reagans and AIDs. This may seem unimportant to you, but to me its just another reason why I would prefer that Bernie Sanders become the Democratic nominee for the Presidential election over Hillary Clinton.

Equivocating” opinion

Early in 2016, LGBT publication Pink News reported that ultra-liberal actress Susan Sarandon attacked Hillary Clinton’s gay rights record. Sarandon, who supports Clinton’s rival Sanders, suggested that the former Secretary of State often “equivocates” on issues such as same-sex marriage.

The Thelma and Louise actress said: “It’s one thing to be for gay rights and gay marriage once everyone else is for it.” Here, Sarandon is stating that despite being a (centre-left) liberal, Hillary Clinton was against same sex marriage long before she was for it. The former First Lady came out in favour of gay marriage in 2013, after current President Barack Obama took the same step.

Clinton’s ignorance

As far as I can tell, Hillary Clinton is no homophobe. Despite being against gay marriage (which I honestly believe was for political expediency), Clinton has supported the LGBT community in other ways. Since coming out in favour of same-sex marriage, Clinton has position herself as one of its strongest advocates. Also, Clinton’s Presidential campaign has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest LGBT advocacy groups in the US.

However, I don’t think Clinton is as committed to LGBT rights as she makes out she is. This belief was reinforced by what the former Secretary of State said about fellow previous First Lady Nancy Reagan, who died recently and her husband in an interview with news outlet MSNBC. Hillary said:

“It maybe hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s… Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan, we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it.”

Walking it back

The Reagans were far from keen AIDs advocates. Ronald Reagan didn’t even talk about what was then called “the gay disease” in public until 1987, a year before the end of his Presidency. Meanwhile, Buzzfeed writes that the couple were notorious for turning down a request for help from their friend actor Rock Hudson, who was suffering from the condition, in 1985.

Clinton has apologised for her error, saying she “misspoke.” This implies that she had no idea what she was talking about. If she was just your average person on the street, I would give her the benefit of the doubt. But she’s been one of the most prominent political figures in the world for decades. Anybody with that much political experience knows that positively linking the Reagans to AIDs activism would whip up a firestorm of indignation in the LGBT community.

Mis-calculated response

This ignorance concerning a key LGBT issue is troubling to me. If this was a Republican trying to frame the Reagans as committed AIDs activists, I wouldn’t even blink. I don’t expect anything better from a party that still officially opposes gay marriage. But excuse me for expecting better from the woman who basically says that she wants to be a champion for the LGBT community.

You may think I’m being harsh, but remember that Hillary Clinton is practically a political machine. She has a big team around her, advising the former Secretary of State on everything she says and does. Furthermore, Clinton is famous for her political skills – the two time Presidential candidate rarely “miss-speaks.”

No, what really troubles me is that I think Clinton knew exactly what she was doing. I believe that she was using Nancy Reagan’s death to both capitalise on public nostalgia for the former first lady while appealing to liberals by invoking a cause close to their hearts. The move was ill-judged, but if the Reagans’ non-action on AIDs hadn’t been raked over so many times before, Clinton might very well have gotten away with it.

Least trustworthy politician

And here we arrive that the crux of the matter. I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton should be the Democratic nominee for the US Presidency because I don’t trust her. Sometimes, I get the feeling that Hillary Clinton will say things to curry favour with the electorate, regardless of whether she believes what she is saying.

Furthermore, the majority of the American public agree with me. Clinton is seen as the least trustworthy of all the candidates running to become the next US President. As her words concerning the Reagans proved once again, far too often Hillary Clinton takes certain views and positions for reasons of political expediency.

Let me make this absolutely clear. When it comes to policy, I prefer Hillary Clinton over any of the Republicans. However, as a card-carrying liberal I support Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. I trust him to implement policies I agree with; I can’t say the same of Clinton. Whether I’m being naive, time will tell, but Clinton’s serious gaffe concerning the Reagans and their record on AIDS leads me to believe that I’m not.

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