I don’t like Hillary Clinton. Some of her supporters seem to assume they know why. I can clear up the two more common misconceptions now. First, it is not because of her gender. I actually want to see a woman as President a great deal. Second, it’s is not because of the myriad of conspiracies laid out against her in the news. The ridiculous accusations and wild stories, often spun up by conservatives, only distract from much more mundane but still extremely important issues with her character. So here, on my blog, in this boring and seldom visited corner of cyberspace, I’m going to write down why I, personally, have not and most likely will not be “with her”.
I was a gamer. I was influenced heavily by the cultural movement behind the first wave of first-person multi-player videogames. Not many years before this wave hit, my family didn’t have the funds to buy my sister and I things like videogame systems. However, while I was in high school my father landed the job that would ultimately allow him to retire. The job also empowered him to bring home our first family computer and my doorway to another world: a 486dx33 that could be overclocked to 66mhz with the press of a button. Eventually I would drag this rig over to friends houses and lan parties, hobble together a network, and spend afternoons trash talking each other as we engaged in virtual battle. At first it was a way to relieve stress and frustration. In time it became a way to make friends and, eventually, led to starting my career in the gaming industry.
It was early in my gaming career that I first heard Hillary Clinton speak. At the time, she was First Lady. Stepping back to set the context, this was when an activist by the name of Jack Thompson was spinning up a pretty good public fervor over violent content in videogames. The videogame industry has a lot of problems, but Jack’s pitch was wrong. He was fabricating causality. If what he said were true, my friends and I should have been extremely violent. Ultimately, he was discredited and even disbarred as a lawyer. However, Hillary Clinton took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. She stood before the public and said that “playing violent videogames accounts for a 13% to 22% increase in violent behavior,” and “violent videogames increase violent behavior as much as lead exposure decreases childrens’ IQ scores.” None of which is remotely true.
To anyone who didn’t know better, her correlation seemed reasonable on the surface and she sounded well informed. However, the research at the time (and since) shows that playing even the most violent videogames typically leads to less violent behavior – the same thing those of us in the industry were seeing. Either she was intentionally misleading the public or she was ignorant. I suspect, due to her political handlers, she was the latter. And in the years to follow, I saw Clinton continue this same pattern of pushing emotional issues in an appealing way, but using misinformation in a way that sometimes led to harm. It seemed to me that she followed mass appeal, flip flopping on what we would expect to be consistent core issues such as gay marriage. She looked to be a puppet and I had no idea where the strings were being pulled. It wasn’t enough to dislike or hate her, exactly, but I couldn’t really respect her message nor trust her as an authentic source of information.
The Birth of Webcraft Studios
I have always been entrepreneurial. I started my first company, Tempest Digital Solutions, in collaboration with a couple of friends back in the late 90s. We did well. But we shut it all down after just a couple of years – mostly because we were too young and immature to handle our interpersonal problems effectively. This early experience starting a company heavily influenced my career path and desires. I was often attracted to startups and startup culture. For many years, I wanted to set off on another company-building adventure like Tempst, perhaps even on my own. In fact, it may be that there was never a time I didn’t want to do this. And, eventually I did.
I made plans, worked hard, and by 2007 was finally ready to launch my own business: Webcraft Studios. I had enough cash in the bank to make it about a year if I kept my budget extremely thin. I had a new social media marketing concept called “digital theatrics” that nobody was doing. I found a much needed first client who provided me with an opportunity to prove the concept along side the rest of their marketing campaign. I recruited contractors to help. Thus, to some small degree, I can legitimately say that I created jobs! Our client loved our work, saying it was performing better than any other social media marketing campaign at the publishing company. Everything was lining up for success. If the product I was promoting did well, I would have the portfolio piece I needed to expand this service model to others.
But then, one day, my client just stopped paying the bills – without explanation.
The story that follows would take a novel to explain. I’ll try to provide a brief summary. Our economy crashed due to the implosion of the housing bubble. My client was funded by a primary investor. That investor got scared, froze accounts, and liquidated everything. Thus, my client’s company was effectively sold upstream to Southpeak Interactive. I and dozens of other small businesses who weren’t getting paid for their work began to complain and then to take legal action against Southpeak. It was too little too late. By the time I was awarded a default judgement in my case, there were no Southpeak assets left to seize. The value of my company, my client’s company, and hundreds of other little guys like me was quickly absorbed, in a series of upstream buyouts, right through the corporate veil into oblivion. My life’s dream, one of the things in life I’ve worked the hardest for, was gone in a matter of months. I was left with a pile of debt and unpaid invoices. I went back to work as quickly as I could find a job. In time, I fully paid all of my own contractors. It hurt me. It’s almost a decade later and I have not yet fully recovered.
At first, I didn’t understand the crash. But, I had a vested interested in understanding it. The story became clearer and clearer through the years and now we all know exactly what happened to cause it. Thousands of people knew it was coming, yet we had no warning. Corporations prepared for and benefited greatly from the crash; I was just one of many many victims in the process. The Occupy movement rose up as a direct result. As an American, I thought my government would be there to protect me from this kind of thing. Those responsible should have been held accountable. But, instead, my country voted to reward the big bankers who did this.
And Now, Hillary
Here we are in 2016. Today is the second day of the Democratic National Convention. Since last summer, I have been advocating for the Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Along with many other issues I care about, he wants to break up the big banks and hold people accountable for wrecking the economy. And he wants campaign finance reform, another component of the problem. He is the candidate who best represents the Occupy movement and their mission. But Bernie did not win the nomination. Hillary Clinton did. Recently leaked emails show how the Democratic party demonstrated significant bias in promoting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. The same Hillary Clinton that earns millions of dollars just for showing up and giving talks to the very same bankers that should be held accountable for wrecking the global economy, no less. In light of every poll showing that Bernie Sanders would be more likely to win against the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, the establishment went out of their way to pave a path for Hillary Clinton.
My money was stolen. My company and the dreams I built with it were destroyed. I was one of thousands who experienced this. I voted for Obama believing he would help right these wrongs. He saved the economy from imploding, but he didn’t punish those responsible, break up the banks, or restore protections that will keep this from happening again. Bernie seemed to be inspired to finish the job. I have no reason to suspect, much less believe, that Hillary is in a position to right this wrong, even if she actually wanted to.
There are many important issues at play in this election cycle. There’s a lot of time between now and the national vote. I will be supporting those Democrats who are being labelled Berniecrats for their support of Bernie and his policies. I’ll certainly participate in reforming congress and carrying on with the political revolution.
But if you’re asking me to vote for Hillary, you need to consider where I’m coming from or you’re just wasting your time. Honestly, you’re probably just wasting your time. I am glad I will most likely get to see the first female US President. However, I fear that we will come to regret choosing Hillary to be that role model. Right now, I can’t see any other future, and that’s not a future I can vote for. I hope time will prove me wrong. Perhaps I can lay to rest my own unaddressed issues in light of some other, more important national good. However – putting aside my own emotional suffering and personal desire for justice – I fear we are headed into economic unrest, violent international conflicts, and a great loss of liberties. I fear this not because of Hillary Clinton, but because those puppet strings seem to lead behind that corporate veil, where my money went.