THE BLOG

Clinton Does Not Inspire -- Should I Care?

04/28/2015 06:03 pm ET | Updated Jun 28, 2015
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Hillary Clinton just doesn't inspire me. I can't get excited. Who are those people in the video? The logo doesn't make me feel anything, maybe confusion.

Unenthusiastic responses have dominated public discussion in the progressive world, as well as the in my small liberal neighborhood in Manhattan. It is clear liberal romantics are unmoved. What is less clear is why that matters?

Generation Y and Millennials seem to have decided that the problem with modern politics is our leaders do not inspire us. Full disclosure: I've been guilty of this sin, but consider myself recently reformed. It's not Hillary Clinton's job to illicit a warm inner glow in me every time she opens her mouth. That's Taylor Swift's job, and she's mighty good at it.

Our generation has largely given up on the superstitions of religion, but cling to the idea of messiahs. Every four years we demand a candidate who we can believe can lead us to political salvation. Someone to "reclaim the American dream" (God knows who from) and "turn this country around" (after 35 years of turning around, I suspect this country is going in circles) and "take back our country" (from the invading hordes of citizens from the south with different opinions). We want a candidate to help us find meaning and purpose in this world.

Unfortunately, our messiah has to run for president. This task demands a degree of being uninspiring. The presidential election requires you to get a majority of votes, in a majority of states. That's a lot of people and a lot of states. It's expensive. Probably cannot threaten to put wall-street bankers in prison. As much as you'd like to please Brooklyn hipsters by announcing a ban on coal, nuclear, gas and all other non-organic energy sources, you may need to keep the coal folks in the middle happy.

The "not inspirational" critique, does have a substantive element: Hillary isn't a real liberal. I'm amazed Hillary Clinton hasn't asked her critics how many of them tried to nationalize the health care system before it was cool? Did they argue kids should be able to sue their parents in Arkansas before it was cool? This may still not be cool in Arkansas.

The complaint persists. Hillary wasn't quick enough on gay marriage. Hillary needs to promise to raise taxes on the rich. She must distance herself from Wall Street. Seeking a messiah, it appears progressives wish to imbue the office of the presidency with messianic powers.

Senate Republicans may need to write an open letter to the progressives about our system of government. I know it's hard to accept, but 40 Senators, many of them from states that are barely states, can stop anything. Then there is our most representative branch of government, Congress, which is actually the least representative branch. Thanks to gerrymandering, the country can tilt as far left as she likes, the House will continue to represent old white men who do not believe in government, because somebody should, and the Senate can't do it alone. Asking Hillary to veer far to the left is begging her to make promises she cannot keep.

For the next little while, whether the president is Hillary, Michael Moore or the re-animated corpse of Susan B. Anthony, progressive legislating will likely be slow going. Although if zombie Susan B. Anthony ran it would be a great campaign just to see what Fox makes of it: "Zombie Candidate Unmarried: What is she hiding?" ; "Giuliani: Anthony wasn't raised like us, she was born with a soul"; "Is America ready for a Quaker President".

Those of us (including myself) that fall into this search for inspiration are generally obsessed with politics, but have very little at stake in political outcomes. Its hard for any election result to really impact on the educated urban middle-class. Even the most malevolent Republican would not destroy what we young urban liberals hold dear: NPR, yoga and brunch. In such circumstances, engaging with politics as a means to seek emotional satisfaction or assert my self-righteousness makes perfect sense.

The presidency is the most complex and difficult race to win. It is unrealistic to expect that single person to meaningfully encapsulate our hopes and dreams -- especially when our votes and states are mostly in the bank.

Now, it is not that I'm jumping for joy about dynastic politics or the perpetuation of Clinton (Inc.). There are plenty of good reasons to think one family's dominance over the Democratic Party stifles renewal, new ideas, and entrenches disproportionate power. The controversy over the Clinton Foundation donations is a case in point. But Hillary's failure to set my heart aflutter no longer bothers me and it should not bother you. For that, we've still got Taylor.