Clinton emails are key to American history

Clinton emails are key to American history

Clinton emails are key to American history
March 31
00:02 2015

The Editorial Board

Forget about the presidential politics surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. What’s important is the vital necessity to record governmental communications. All government employees work for the people; it’s a public service in its simplest form. With public duty comes the obligation of preserving national history. If Mrs Clinton indeed deleted her emails and private server in an effort to destroy sensitive information related to government business, her record should never be cleared.

We have all sat in those boring history classes before a lecturer with unfamiliar enthusiasm about crossing the Atlantic and tried our best to enjoy it (or just get through it). The professor tries, in the most engaging way possible, to convey similarities and ties to contemporary events.

Where there’s a “right now,” there is a “back then,” both related in some way. In order to truly appreciate where it is, society must understand its origins. For a public official – who is only in power for a short time, relative to history – to compromise the integrity and accuracy of history, he or she has altered the factuality and reality of future generations. We hope Mrs. Clinton did no such thing.

We also understand some level of privacy is required in order to govern, but deleting emails is making an effort to hide facts, something unreasonable and downright tenebrous. If Mrs. Clinton did so, voters need to remember it in 2016; Republican and Democratic opponents have the responsibility to remind voters, too.

To be fair, if her deleted emails are related to her personal life – her yoga routine or Chelsea’s wedding – then she need not be penalized, and the scandal would need to dissipate. But let’s be real and assume it’s not that simple. A secretary of state will always be involved in important diplomatic activity, and communicate valuable and sensitive messages.

Furthermore, Mrs. Clinton’s personal aides manipulated settings on the private email account, “hdr22@clintonemail.com,” to only retain emails from the last 60 days after filtering which communications were private or public before releasing them to the State Department. It’s public relations appropriate to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s transparent.

The series of transactions that apply to governing – emails, state dinners, cabinet meetings, etc. – should be available to the public; all documentation should be ready at all times. When people in 30 years look back, they ought to be privy to all exchanges, as all people have the right to know from where they came.

Most Americans understand the business end of governing is run by politics. And when scandals like this one arise, imaginations and speculations escalate rapidly, interrupting the flow of things to force lawmakers, the press and citizens to focus on the system itself, rather than the societal issues at hand, like foreign policy or marriage equality.

The preservation of history is a matter of ethics. For example, when we think of racism today, society has the right to know the evolution of racial inequality – the events, concepts and beliefs that shaped the current race landscape. The more we know about communications between President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the more insight we can consider, and the more knowledge we have about racial progress. With that, better decisions can be made in the present.

The Benghazi terror attack saga needs to include an open dialogue among officials. Clinton and her emails are key to that openness. She continues to be trounced by Benghazi, and her political setbacks are well-deserved.

This is bigger than Hillary Clinton. It’s about the communications of the secretary of state. Government dialogue must remain transparent, and Clinton does not deserve to be president if she has impeded that process.

Featured Image: Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks at the Chatham House Prize Award Ceremony in 2013. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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