The truth is, of course, the President of the United States cannot and should not be entirely forthcoming with the American people on every issue in real time. What would that look like?
Something like this:
- "Well, those lost manufacturing jobs are gone forever, and it will take a few generations struggling to get by before our economy can shift away from a manufacturing base and build something new that includes middle class workers. It really sucks that your generation, rather randomly, is one of them. We'll do what we can, but it's going to be hard. These processes take time."
- "Terrorism isn't our biggest threat to safety. Gun ownership is. But that doesn't mean terrorists won't pull a few attacks off. In fact, it's not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN. And we won't always be able to stop it, to keep you safe. We'll do everything we can, but in a free and open society like this one, it's luck of the draw for us all."
- "America is enjoying a great run as a global superpower, from about World War I to sometime in the next 75-100 years. Truth Is, we've probably begun the process of a long, slow, gradual decline in influence. No superpower in history, across regions and cultures, has maintained that level of influence forever. There is no example that contradicts that inevitable decline. And the failure of political and economic institutions--and the suffering and cynicism that results--have always been signs that a power is rotting from within."
- "The transformational demographic changes already underway--with so-called minority groups, as a collective soon to outnumber white Americans--will ultimately make the nation a more just, equitable place. But the dramatic shifts in power, wealth, status and privilege will mean violence (literal and figurative), rooted in fear, anger and anxiety and perpetrated by those about to lose their unearned and unacknowledged privilege. It's ugly out there, and it's only going to get worse for some time. But it's not a NEW ugliness. It's just a group not used to having to deal with ugliness freaking out, throwing a tantrum."
- "For most of the problems you have in your life, as President of the United States, there's not anything I can do. It's your local and state governments that can address some of the issues, but only about a third of you care to vote, you elect too many incompetents and cowards, and you allow them to build more prisons and enrich their cronies and themselves when you should be demanding they build more schools and hospitals. You despise and worship millionaires at the same time. And there is little evidence that your disengagement and apathy and ignorance are going to change anytime soon. All very sad."
Secretary Clinton is speaking more truth than Senator Sanders on the campaign trail. Why, then, is she performing, thus far, below expectations, while Sanders exceeds them?
Truth doesn't sell. It's not always pretty, and it's not simplistic. You can't boil it down to a stump speech. And as President, speaking truth, in full, in real time, would shake the nation at its core. We can't handle the truth. So we get this campaign, instead.
But we could elect a leader who is smart, dignified, thoughtful, pragmatic and more leader than candidate. Who if not speaking full truth, refuses to lie, to pretend that the truth is simple, clean, easy. Hillary Clinton can help us remain generous, open minded, moving forward through rather tumultuous, challenging times with a calm, steady, experienced hand. And with clear priorities for seizing the opportunities present amid all of the daunting challenges we face...and some of which there will be no way to overcome, at least not to the extent we aspire. Secretary Clinton offers an authentic, genuine, difficult, complex and honest starting point from which we can build on the Obama legacy...while Senator Sanders sells well-timed and effective mantras, oversimplification, populist folksiness, and, in the end, inauthenticity disguised as hope. He might even believe his own rhetoric at this point, about the change he can affect...but that doesn't make it any more plausible.
That's why Hillary must win. And why Democrats must rally around her now. It's about the truth.