There's No Such Thing as an 'Anti-Establishment' Candidate

Some time back, entertainer Penn Jillette made an observation about political forgiveness on his podcast which goes some distance toward explaining the current state of the presidential race. He noted that voters will forgive virtually anything if they perceive that a candidate is covertly working for their interests. Referencing gay rights, he noted:

We have Hillary Clinton — while you were alive, while you were sexually active, three years ago — saying marriage is just between a man and a woman.... And yet many people in [the gay community] are supporting Hillary, and their reason for supporting her is that "she was always in favor of gay rights, but she had to say what she had to, to be elected."

She came out in favor of the Pacific trade deal, very strongly in favor of it, and now she’s against it.

And that’s not seen as flip-flopping, it’s not really seen as a revelation or learning something — it’s seen as "she is politically expedient, and we want someone who is politically expedient."

The followers of Hillary Clinton seem to think they have a secret deal with her — where they understand what she really believes, what she’s really going to do — and they are willing to support her as she bends the truth in order to be elected...

Why do the people who support Hillary think that what she’s saying is to manipulate other people and not to manipulate them?

The same could be asked of Donald Trump supporters who have proven unshakable in their commitment to the candidate despite his well-documented wishy-washiness on virtually every issue. Trump has been pro-choice and pro-life, pro-gun and anti-gun, for socialized medicine and against Obamacare. He has been all things to anyone willing to believe him, and yet his supporters seem to think they have this secret deal that Jillette speaks of, where they know what Trump really believes and what he's really going to do. They believe, in essence, that Trump is their covert political agent. They imagine that he will do what they want, no matter what he has said in the past, and even despite some of the things he says now.

Jillette's insight explains the perceived double-standard which some have presented between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton when it comes to association with the Ku Klux Klan. Trump has taken a beating in the media, including from this author, for his initial hesitation to denounce David Duke and the KKK. Yet it has been noted that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats praised former KKK member Robert Byrd, the late Democrat senator from West Virginia. So why does she get a pass? Clinton gets the pass because of this secret deal, this unspoken understanding among minority constituencies that, no matter what she says or whom she breaks bread with, she really works for them.