Many Americans have been so distracted by Donald Trump's offensive rhetoric and absurd antics, they've seemingly given Hillary Clinton a free pass.
This needs to stop.
At this point, it's looking more and more like she's going to be elected president.
Between Clinton's domination of Trump in the three presidential debates and the array of controversies plaguing the real estate mogul's campaign, the former secretary of state is in a very good position as Election Day approaches.
And sorry, supporters of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein – it's safe to say it's going to be more or less impossible for either of your candidates to win.
Accordingly, a lot of Americans need to hit the pause button on the "Trump Show" and start taking a hard look at Clinton.
Criticism of Hillary Clinton is not an endorsement of Donald Trump.
We need to establish the fact that criticism of Clinton is not equivalent to support for Trump.
It's understandable why many might feel protective of Clinton, given the unabashed misogyny she's contended with this election cycle (and throughout her career in general).
But people who believe critiquing Clinton only helps Trump need to recognize how unhealthy that idea is for our country.
We cannot avoid analyzing the flaws of her character and policies simply because we are so terrified of the prospect of a Trump presidency.
Yes, Clinton and Trump are clearly not on the same level, and those who attempt to make this argument immediately discredit themselves.
There has perhaps never been a more unqualified presidential candidate than Trump.
The fact he has gotten this far has the wider world looking at America with a mixture of bemusement and horror. This man has already damaged our country's global standing, and he's never held elected office.
While Clinton is clearly qualified, has spent her life championing important issues like women's rights and is running on the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic party – she's not infallible.
We need to find a more balanced way to criticize a person who has a high probability of becoming our next leader.
People on the right need to relinquish this attachment to the political witch hunt surrounding Benghazi.
Meanwhile, people on the left need to stop responding to any criticism of Clinton with, "You're helping Trump!"
It's possible to critique Clinton while also avoiding the caricature of her as an excessively corrupt, untrustworthy, evil woman (or, as Trump puts it, a "nasty woman"). And we should strive toward this for the sake of the country.
You can support Clinton and still criticize her. These ideas are not mutually exclusive.
Will Hillary do what is popular, or what is right?
Hillary Clinton has done a number of questionable things over the course of her career.
While a senator, Clinton voted "yes" for the invasion of Iraq, the biggest foreign policy blunder of our era.
The invasion of Iraq directly led to the rise of ISIS, a terror organization the US is currently fighting in Iraq and Syria.
You also have to consider the context of these decisions.
When it comes to the war in Iraq, for example, it's fair to say it would've been extremely controversially for her to vote "no."
She was a senator from New York during 9/11, and in the aftermath it was political suicide for anyone to appear weak on terrorism.
But you could argue the 1994 crime bill and Iraq War stand as examples of Clinton's propensity to make decisions based on what is popular, rather than what is right or ethical.
It's also fair to question whether what Clinton says in public is really what she believes privately.
When it comes to the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for example, Clinton publicly claims to be against it.
Recently leaked emails, however, call that into question.
While all of this might seem small in comparison to Trump's extreme policy proposals, such as deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, that doesn't mean we should just let it slide.
We need to remember the importance of accountability.
Hillary Clinton might be the first female presidential candidate in history, and is definitely a trailblazer.
But she's been a member of the political elite for many years at this point, and wields a significant level of power and influence.
It's encouraging that she's running on such a progressive platform (which we can largely thank Senator Bernie Sanders for).
But we need to work to hold her accountable, or we risk allowing her to renege on pledges she's made during the election cycle.
America was founded upon the notion of distrusting and questioning the powerful.
Criticizing and questioning Clinton is simply an important aspect of continuing that tradition.