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Why Is My Dad Mad?

Wipe the Server After You're Done edition

Welcome to "Why Is My Dad Mad?," MTV's occasional inquiry into issues that may come up on your Facebook feed or over dinner.

Why is Dad mad today?

He’s screaming "Kevin Durant” and “Clay Bennett" an awful lot, but other than that I can’t make out too many words?

Is that about sports? This is why I don't follow sports.

Sorry! Let's narrow this down: Is your dad a Republican?


Ah, well, then he's mad about the announcement that the FBI will not be recommending criminal prosecution against Hillary Clinton for charges involving her private email server.

But, wait, my sister's #WithHer, and she's mad, too.

Is your sister Lena Dunham or Katy Perry? If your sister is a millennial supporting Hillary, it's a pretty select group.

Well, my sister has always considered herself special.

This brings us back to Hillary, actually. You know, that private server's existence owes itself to a particularly Clintonesque combination of self-regard and paranoia. That family considers itself a little beyond the reach of ordinary rules.

OMG, my sister is a Clinton. It explains so much.

You should get Trump's investigators to find her birth certificate!

LOL. And, speaking of controversies that will not die?

Oh, right, where were we? Well, so, your sister is mad because despite declining to recommend prosecution, FBI director James Comey basically offered up a highlight reel of future 30-second ads against Clinton: She was "extremely careless" in the way she handled her email and "[a]ny reasonable person ... should have known that an unclassified system was no place" for sensitive information.

What's more, he directly rebutted Clinton's assertion, "I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received." In fact, Comey cited 113 emails that contained classified information. He also said that the FBI found evidence that "hostile actors" gained access to those that Clinton corresponded with, and that it was "possible" that hostile actors accessed her own account.

That sounds bad.

Yep. This was always the real concern for intelligence officials about that private server — not the lack of transparency (in avoiding federal records regulations), but rather an inadvertent excess of transparency. For progressives, the issue is even more granular: Some emails show her role in approving drone attacks in Pakistan. They're a reminder of just how hawkish Clinton has always been, and just how problematic the drone program still is.

OK, about that drone program. I have some questions ...

Don't we all! A longer discussion for another time!

To bring things back to the domestic front, the real reason why both Republicans and Democrats are mad is that this outcome guarantees that we will never stop talking about the fucking email server (though that's arguably an easier conversation for her than the drone program is). Clinton won't be subject to a court finding of technical innocence or guilt — and Comey laid out a whole wreath of other accusations from which she will never be able to unburden herself.

Ugh. Things are already pretty tense. I think my dad is more mad than my sister, though.

That's because Clinton is running against the only other American politician who could possibly set the bar lower for personal integrity and professional transparency. Seriously — in any other matchup, a finding like this would tank her. But her opponent is an overt racist with a documented, decades-long history of shady business dealings whose own (most current) corruption case (over Trump University) is still winding its way through the system. Trump wishes he could find someone to dismiss that case as being a function of thoughtless but not criminal conduct.

None of what you're saying makes me exactly enthusiastic about voting for either of them.

I know, right? That reaction is probably the most worrisome one to the Clinton campaign — and, frankly, to anyone who's not explicitly a Donald Trump supporter: Trump is going to benefit from any reaction that suppresses voter turnout this fall. Indeed, the Republicans benefit from suppressing voter turnout, period.

Ironically, the Hillary campaign will likely attempt to counteract this dip in enthusiasm by amping up the (quite well-founded) message about Trump's obviously terrifying impulsiveness — the "do you trust this man with the nuclear codes?" argument.

So what’s the TL;DR takeaway here?

Whatever chance this election had at being a battle of ideas is going to get crowded out in a debate over what's worse: Clinton's selfish carelessness or Trump's global recklessness. If the winner in that contest seems obvious to you, it's probably because you've already decided who you'll support.

This year, it's more important than ever to remember there's another side in the debate besides Clinton's and Trump's — and I mean that in addition to whatever third- (or fourth!) party candidate you could consider. (Which, by all means, consider Johnson or Stein!) Rather, remember that you, the voter have a side. You have your own integrity to stand up for, and you should think about how history will judge your actions this fall. Did you do what you could for the policies you care about? Or will you be careless?

You sound like my sister.

She can't always be wrong.

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