Americans are tired of political "gotcha" games. Yet the scandal engulfing Hillary Clinton about the email system she used while secretary of state isn't just any political food fight: These events exemplify Clinton's elitism and her belief that people like her should make the laws but not have to live under them like the rest of us. Americans should resoundingly reject this tired Washington-knows-best attitude.
The recently released State Department inspector general's report examining Clinton's email practices while makes it clear that she has been misleading the public all along. In contrast to her public assurances, her practice of exclusively using a private email system for her official work in spite of knowledge of the extreme security risks and record-keeping requirements was unique; it wasn't approved by State Department lawyers; and, no surprise, it was inconsistent with security protocols and put sensitive information at risk.
Colin Powell used a private email address for some correspondence while serving as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, and he didn't follow record-keeping policies properly. But as the report notes, at that time, the rules for preserving email records were less detailed and the security risks less understood.
Powell worked with State's tech departments on his email setup, and they were generally aware of his use of private email. In other words, Clinton's "everybody does it" defense doesn't hold water.
In fact, when the U.S. ambassador to Kenya engaged in behavior similar to Clinton's - using a private server in spite of guidance that this practice was against the rules - disciplinary hearings were initiated and the ambassador resigned. In other words, Clinton's agency was happy to enforce the rules for her inferiors, but naturally the secretary herself didn't have to bother complying with the law.
Why did Clinton go to such lengths to break the well-known rules so she could use a private email system? There can be no explanation other than that she wanted to avoid public scrutiny and the legal requirements that her correspondence while serving as the nation's top diplomat must be preserved and made available to Congress. So much for sunshine, transparency, and the public's right to know.
This attitude of superiority and the rejection of the concept that public officials must be accountable to the people they serve are part of Clinton's core. Clinton and her top aides wouldn't even deign to be interviewed by the Inspector General's Office for the report. That's for the little people apparently.
Her campaign now is relying on the tried-and-true Clinton tactic of demonizing anyone who dares question her ethics as a partisan hack. They trust that the media and the public will overlook the fact that the inspector general is no conservative firebrand but rather a President Obama appointee.
Americans should be warned that this attitude trickles into Clinton's policy positions. She promises to promote policies that will crack down on corporate cronyism and too-big-to-fail banks, and regulate every aspect of business life. But you can bet that she and her friends will continue to game the system and rake in their personal fortunes from the very fat cats she claims to want to fight.
She'll push to expand Obamacare further, giving government even greater power to dictate what kind of insurance everyone must purchase, what subsidies they can receive, and how hospitals and doctors' offices must operate. But don't expect lawmakers to follow those rules.
Recall that in spite of the letter of the law that required those working on Capitol Hill to take part in the Obamacare exchange like millions of other Americans, Congress gave itself an exemption so it could enjoy more subsidies and a better deal than regular Americans get. The rules are for suckers.
Americans have had enough of a ruling class that thinks it's above the rest of us. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, after all, and those laws are meant to apply to everyone, even those with titles like secretary or senator.
During this campaign, of course, Clinton is pretending to be a populist and stand with the little guy. But we know from her past behavior that under a President Hillary, we'd have business as usual and the perpetuation of a political system rigged to benefit the politically connected - especially those named Clinton.