The “Stamina” Gap between Hillary Clinton and the American Worker

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The “Stamina” Gap between Hillary Clinton and the American Worker

Donald Trump has raised the question of the “presidential look” of Hillary Clinton. What he means by this is unadulterated sexist bullshit. Hillary is not a male; therefore, she is not “presidential.” Of course, even Mr. Trump knows the counterproductive limits of that crude dismissal, so of course he turns his attention to a claim that Hillary Clinton lacks stamina.

Her response in the first debate was defined within her personal capacity to serve as a public official with a very demanding schedule. Since she is the candidate under scrutiny, one could understand her inclination to keep the parameters individual; but in stopping there, and in only talking about her personal stamina, she missed an opportunity to diffuse the critique that Hillary Clinton’s campaign to be President is “all about me,” as if it were a referendum on her self-worth and how much she has endured in order to be a famous feminist.

If she is faced with the question of stamina again, she would be well advised to turn the discussion to the stamina of American working people, for it is we who deserve praise for our resilience. Privileged people such as Donald Trump, who had wealth handed to them as start-up entrepreneurs, have no idea of how much stamina is needed to endure a tax system in which real estate manipulation provides people such as Trump a domestic tax haven that is nothing short of scandalous. Trump is clueless as to what is entailed in trying to survive on unemployment benefits, or the psychological toll exacted on marriages in which one of the spouses becomes long-term unemployed?

If Trump is popular amongst some portions of the American electorate, it is in no part due to the exhaustion of American workers. Even those with immense stamina are not indefatigable, and I fear that the numbness of economic exhaustion has brought about a “thousand yard stare” – the look that soldiers get when they cannot take another step or even hear another order. Too many workers have been asked to do too much for too little reward for too long. The result is that any fast-talking con artist who comes along with jingoist promises has a good chance of securing their vote.

Clinton needs to address the needs of these workers with more than promises of job training. What are her plans, for instance, for the millions of truck drivers who will be unemployed after self-driving trucks merge onto the freeways of commerce? And what about the thousands upon thousands of people (especially in the Baby Boomer generation) who have never found any employment in the aftermath of the Great Recession?

It is not Hillary Clinton’s stamina that needs to be discussed, but the extraordinary capacity of American workers to do more than should be expected of them and to wake up the next morning and do it again. A temperament of self-discipline and willingness to consider the needs of others is at the heart of one’s capacity to endure and renew a community’s sense of shared prosperity. Without that sense of social stamina, the non-stop onslaught of social presentations by politicians is just a circus side-show. It is our stamina as working people that deserves to be touted, and then made the center of attention in every policy decision.