SYNDICATED COLUMN: Hillary Lost. Should We Care?

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If Jill Stein and die-hard Democrats get their way, recounts in three key states will take the presidency away from Donald Trump and hand it to Hillary Clinton. While this effort is probably doomed to failure, the attempted do-over prompts a question: what exactly are we losing with this mother of all paths not taken, a Hillary Clinton administration?

What elevates this theoretical exercise above a parlor game is the deep grief felt by tens of millions of Democrats, especially women. They believe not just that Donald Trump is a disaster, but that the United States will miss out on a great, inspiring leader in Hillary Clinton. For these bereft citizens, Hillary’s departure from the national political scene ranks alongside those of Adlai Stevenson and Al Gore — losing candidates who were clearly superior to the winners, whose loss left America much worse off.

I agree with the Clintonites’ horrorstruck reaction to Trump. But are they right about the rest? Have we really lost much with Hillary? Let’s look at what we know, or can assume with reasonable certainty, would have happened under the first few years of Madam President.

The Cabinet: Hillary’s cabinet would have been drawn from the ranks of her campaign aides, allies from her tenure in the Obama administration, and old hands from her husband’s 1990s heyday. Judging from the center-right Democrats with whom she has surrounded herself, her choice of center-right Tim Kaine as vice president (as opposed to a liberal counterbalance like Elizabeth Warren) and her campaign’s unusual snubbing of staffers who sought to migrate from Bernie Sanders’ progressive campaign, it’s safe to say that Hillary Clinton’s cabinet would have been composed of the neoliberal militarists who’ve been running things for Obama. Like Obama, she probably wouldn’t have appointed any progressives.

Supreme Court Nominees: Not wanting an early fight with Senate Republicans, she’d probably fill archconservative constructionist Antonin Scalia’s empty seat with another Republican, restoring the 2015 ideological balance of the court. She might have gotten to fill another two or three seats, and here is where she might have made a real difference for the liberal cause. The 5-4 question is, would she have gone to war with the GOP by appointing a Democrat to replace a dead or retiring right-winger? Could she win if she had? I lay 50-50 odds on both questions.

Taxes and the Economy: Clinton proposed a slightly more progressive tax structure during the campaign. She only wanted a $12/hour minimum wage — less than many states and cities. Even though NAFTA and trade were her Achilles’ heels, she didn’t propose a job retraining program or welfare plan for workers displaced by globalization. Largely, she pledged to continue the gradual Obama recovery, which has left most workers behind. In the absence of an unforeseen boom or bust, your wallet would have felt pretty much the same as it has over the last few years.

Privacy and the NSA: Even in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations (when she called the whistleblower a traitor), Clinton stridently defended the government’s illegal spying against every American. Spooks would have had a friend in Clinton, as under Trump.

Healthcare: Obamacare would have remained in place in its present form. A few vague promises to add a “public option” do not amount to a pledge to spend political capital to get it past Congressional Republicans. But premiums are skyrocketing, so Hillarian inaction might have led to wider calls for ACA repeal, a big step backward. (No one knows what Trump will do. Not even him.)

Gay and Transgender Rights: Clinton opposed marriage equality until 2013 — after most Americans told pollsters they were for it. She is weak on transgender issues. On issues of individual rights, the Clintons have always followed, not led. She would have had little effect on these struggles, on which Trump has actually been pretty good.

Women’s Rights: No doubt, the election of the first woman president would have been incredibly inspiring to women and girls. Would Clinton’ impact on the feminist movement have gone beyond the symbolism of identity politics? Probably not. The next logical legislative steps to advance women’s rights — paid family leave for a year, federal child care for freelancers and self-employed workers, a federal pay equality law, reviving the Equal Rights Amendment, a full-scale campaign against rape culture — received zero support from the defeated nominee.

Abortion: A federal law legalizing abortion would resolve the SCOTUS wars and guarantee that women in the South had the right to choose. But Clinton seems satisfied with the status quo.

Social Programs: Neither Clinton has ever proposed a major new anti-poverty program. There’s no reason to think that that would have changed. Ditto for Trump.

War and Peace: Hillary has a long history of hawkishness. She didn’t push through any peace deals as Secretary of State. During the campaign, she called for a no-fly zone over Syria, a tactic designed to provoke hostilities. And her hot rhetoric so freaked out the government of Russia that Kremlin military analysts worried about World War III if she won. Trump is a hothead. But Hillary might have been more likely to start a war.

The Middle East: Any breakthrough would have to be brokered by someone who was not as much of an unqualified supporter of Israel as she is. (So is Trump.)

Human Rights: Clinton’s record is dismal. She coddled dictators at State. Her foundation solicited money from the murderous Saudi regime. She rarely mentioned the issue during her campaign. I’d expect more of the same from her — or Trump.

Torture: Obama continued to authorize torture by the CIA, and refused to investigate torturers. Clinton would not have reversed these nauseating policies, which she has endorsed, and will continue under Trump.

Drones: Like Obama and Trump, Hillary is a big fan of using killer robot planes to slaughter thousands of innocent people abroad.

Secret Prisons/Guantánamo: It’s a safe bet that Gitmo torture gulag would have remained open under Hill, though perhaps with fewer inmates than Trump says he wants to send there.

Hillary fans can credibly argue that she would not have made things worse, or at least not as bad as they will be under Trump. By objective standards, however, it defies reason to claim that she would have presided over a halcyon era of progress. At best, President Clinton II would have held the line against Republican attacks. As we know, however, voters are not in the mood for more of the same.

And in 2020, we’d be right back where we are now. Four years into President Hillary, the anger that unleashed Trumpism would turn into boiling rage.

Odds are, Hillary would have committed many of the same outrages as Trump will. As a Democrat, however, she wouldn’t have faced the same level of protest or resistance from the Left — or a media willing to cover it.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

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22 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Hillary Lost. Should We Care?

  1. Tips to re-invigorate American Liberalism
    1. Drop the Europhilia. I’m sure they do nice things over there but let’s stop using “They do it that way in Europe!” as an argument-ender.
    2. Stop saying “There oughtta be a law”. Laws are useless. An anti-discrimination law is nice, yes, but we’ve got to stop thinking that the underlying problems just go away once the law is passed. The same applies to any other laws or programs passed.
    3. Dump the Nannies and Health Nazis. “Vote for us so we can take away all the things that give you joy because we think you’re too stupid to be trusted with them” is not a winning slogan. Nor is worrying that working people can’t find $20/lb Kale before considering that they can’t meet basic needs very classy.
    4. Get angry. It may make Barney cry, but anger gets shit done. More so than spending 8 years offering compromises to people who said clearly that they were taking and not giving.
    5. Exorcise the ghost of Willie Horton. Fighting for basic civil liberties protections will always be seen as “soft on crime” by some. Just deal with it.
    6. “If at first you don’t succeed…” Occupy didn’t work. There are two options here: Either take a good hard look at what worked, what didn’t and try to improve the effort in the future or say “Welp, I dunno” while shrugging. To many liberals took the second route and here we are today.

    • An interesting list. Gets to much of what’s irritating at least about the presentation of the Left. I’m afraid they’d be near unrecognizable if they were to implement all these suggestions.

      • The notion of prescriptions for the «re-invigoration» of the Left coming from the likes of «Fleming Balzac» and «Jack Heart» is not without its entertainment value. At least «Fleming Balzac» informs us that the object of his concern is «American Liberalism ; whatever that can be thought to mean, it surely includes Ms Clinton. Now why would anyone who wished «Liberalism» or the Left well want to «re-invigorate»such a spectre ?…

        Henri

      • @ mhenriday –
        Do you mean to tell me that any of that nonsensical verbosity made some kind of sense to you? 😀

  2. I usually vote, but only just in case, on the slim chance that the vote might be counted.

    For the reasons Ted gives, I found this election to be one of the least important elections of my lifetime; the chance of improving things by voting in this election was indecipherable and virtually nil.

    But I do like the Stein recount, because if ever there was a candidate that might make a decisive turn away from catastrophe, I would like to have the hope that a vote for that candidate might be counted—like if Bernie had been a candidate that would take some of the Trumpen-proletariat vote that Hillary had dismissed as deplorable, for a win.

  3. Trump has nominated or is about to nominate the extreme end of the extreme end of ruling elite to his cabinet. The few outsiders will be nutcases who believe in Pyramids being grain storages (quaint), that gays need conversion therapy (less quaint), and that global warming is a hoax (not so quaint either).

    When Obama was handed the reins 8 years ago, he put in his lily-white cabinet of Wall Street insiders same as Bill Clinton but insisted that things were different because the buck would stop with him. Remember how Guantanamo was to close up and Citibank to be broken apart?

    It took Obama one 4 year period (at least) to wise up on how to actually assert his power. Then we at least got the treaty with Iran, Cuba, and the “relatively” non-interventionist Syria policy. Even that might have been sabotaged from within, as when NATO bombarded fortified positions of the Syrian army (oops?), thereby scuttling the deal he had made with Russia.

    I’ll take Ted’s point that Hillary Clinton was consistently on the wrong side even of Obama, and in a parallel universe will definitely invite in whatever space lizard the GOP are going to nominate in 4 years.

    Unless Trump learns much faster than Obama how to work a bureaucracy, his advisors will do push through they want – which does not include gay rights, climate survival, or an infrastructure program that we would recognize as such. Therefore I strongly disagree with the positive points Ted has made here for once.

    The only realistic way that I can see that Trump would prevail is through the Stalinisque “You’re fired!” mad dog style of leadership effectively stifling all agency within the agencies through institutionalized fear so that they no longer operate independently of his coterie/central committee. This may make for temporarily satisfying TV (now they get it same as we got it), but will not end well if history is any guide.

    The major difference to Clinton is that those set of insane maniacs may well attempt to implement actual change in a short time that may be very hard to undo, both legally and fiscally. However, smart money is on those changes only further entrenching the takeover of the country by the deep state and deep pockets.

  4. There are very good reasons why the Kremlin figured a vote for Hillary was a vote for WWIII. After the fall of the Soviet Union, four US presidents fought for regime change in all countries where the regime that had allied with the USSR was still in charge. Trump said that was a mistake. Hillary promised to achieve regime change in Syria, and the return of the Crimea to the Ukraine.

    Putin said, ‘No more. Syria is a strategic asset.’

    In the first two debates, Secretary Clinton promised to impose a no-fly zone (just like the one that forced regime change in Libya) on Syria her first day in office. In the third debate, she said she’d first give Putin an ultimatum. If he failed to comply, the US would sink the Russian fleet and shoot down all the Russian planes, but she was sure war with Russia would not be necessary, all her advisors assured her Putin would know Russia cannot win a war, and would pull out of Syria and the Crimea without a fight. Great advisors.

    Trump will be an unmitigated disaster as president. He wants massive tax subsidies on coal, and not quite so massive subsidies on other fossil fuels. This will doom the world, probably before 2100.

    Secretary Clinton could push the US into a nuclear war before 2018.

    One is unbearably bad, and the other is worse.

    • «One is unbearably bad, and the other is worse.» But Michael, how can this be ? I thought the United States of America was the «indispensable nation», the «Shining City on a Hill», without which the world would collapse ? What the fuck is going on ?…

      Henri

  5. The problem for America’s prevailing oligarchs is that T-rump can simply “Change his mind.” After saying “I was given bad intel …” he can then take a better path, whether it’s a war agenda or a monetary agenda (personally, I hope he keeps most of his promise concerning illegally invading, migrant crooks of whatever cultural and race-based identity), or anything else that he’s been “briefed” on by the current POTUS war-crook.

    Pie-in-the-sky.

    DanD

      • Perhaps the flow has died down, but not likely.
        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/huge-increase-in-illegal-immigrants/

        As it is, most of the damage has already been done. Tens-of-millions of quasi-citizen “anchor-babies” are now grown to adult-hood and and continue breeding like cock roaches to further supplant White and Black America with what will ultimately become the interdependent Spanish-speaking state of newer, North Mexico. And while that may sound like a “racist” statement, it is also a statistical fact.

        It is an invasion and has been for more than half a century in overdrive. The Mexicans are planning to take Southwest U.S. back. At least, that’s what the Mexican invaders talk about mostly among themselves. Go ahead, drive around that greater Cholo Barrio of East L.A. and see all the Mexican Flags flying from the porch poles. This is a fifth-column population that getting larger than the one they’re trying to replace. They know what they want. When the American team plays Mexico in soccer, they want Mexico to win.

        “In 2014, estimates showed that the Latino and Hispanic population surpassed the population of non-Hispanic Whites. According to those estimates, taken in June 2014, 14.99 million Latinos resided in the state, compared to 14.92 whites. California has the largest minority population and the largest Hispanic population in the country.”
        http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/california-population/

        DanD

      • @ DanD –

        Good grief! You want to prove a point by using an article that is dated March 10, 2003, 4:49 AM — more than thirteen years ago?

        Note that Russell said “recent years.”

        That is just pathetic. 🙁

      • @ derlehrer,

        If you noticed, I provide two links, one from 2003, and a progressively much later one from 2016. Not as pathetic as you imagine.

        DanD

      • @ DanD –

        “If you noticed, I provide two links, one from 2003, and a progressively much later one from 2016.”
        *
        I’m not as disconnected as you might wish me to be.

        It’s just that once I catch a disingenuous and distorted argument from a deceptive presenter, I tend to disregard anything and everything that might come from that person henceforth as a waste of my time — for reasons that should be obvious..

    • «As it is, most of the damage has already been done. Tens-of-millions of quasi-citizen “anchor-babies” are now grown to adult-hood and and continue breeding like cock roaches to further supplant White and Black America with what will ultimately become the interdependent Spanish-speaking state of newer, North Mexico.» The territory in question was taken from Mexico in the US -Mexican War ; what goes ’round comes ’round….

      The boundaries of the continental US that you grew up with, DanD, have not been divinely determined, and like all human constructions are subject to change. If this saddens or outrages you, consider how we in Europe have had it these last 1000 years….

      Henri

  6. First, let’s all pray to Jesus, Buddha, Allah, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, all of the above, that Trump succeeds because a Trump failure is the last straw. His supporters elected him because they genuinely think they’ve been abandoned. You might disagree with their opinions on a bunch of things (more on that in a moment), but as Ted has just detailed, there are many clear indicators that the middle class has been pistolwhipped by its “friends” in the Democratic Party leadership, and HRC’s presidency would have simply been a continuation for the most part of the whipping.

    So what happens if Trump fails? Do you think all those “deplorables” are going to just shrug their shoulders? “Oh well. Back to the slow death spiral.” Remember Timothy McVeigh? Remember the SLA? Shit will start to fly apart. Today, some student tried to kill a bunch of people at OSU. Do you think the unemployed people in MIchigan are going to sip their lattes and post tweets if Trump can’t turn things around? Do you think some guy who is sleeping on his brother’s couch is going to just continue to take day after day of this slow waterdrip torture of the middle class dying off?

    Most of the media narrative about Trump’s supporters has been a lie. It was a narrative designed to fit the pre-existing desired story. Even now, the media gives us stories of Trump-supporter wingnuts screaming crazy things. Those people were always there, but now, because the media wants that kind of thing to be the lead, that’s what we’re getting. Every single stray Trump crazy is getting advanced right to the front of the news queue. It’s selective perception, and the media excels at it.

    This ties in with Ted’s other piece, about the end of the buddy-buddy media and the presidency. What happens when the president spits on the media? They have to start telling the truth or they have to double-down on misrepresentation. The big problem is that now, misrepresentation doesn’t hold up because there are a very few news sites that do real journalism, and they will have no choice but to say, “Well, the papers got this wrong.” And it will actually HELP Trump for him to keep challenging the media to rise to its own much-vaunted standards because they chased all of those old-guard types off the property years ago. Do you think the “curators” in the media have even a hope in hell of writing long-form journalism to address the issues that will come up in an adversarial Trump administration?

    There’s a better chance of HRC winning all three of those states in recounts.

  7. This leads to the conclusion that Bernie Sanders should have been the nominee (and would have been, but for the underhanded tactics of the DNC) and president-elect. America was screwed without having been kissed. 🙁

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