Is Hillary Clinton the Worst Democratic Candidate Imaginable?

Hillary Clinton is inevitable. That’s what they told us in 2008, and it’s what they’re telling us again in 2016. While no-one but her hardcore supporters minded when this was proved untrue eight years ago, if history repeats itself this time around, the consequence will be the most divisive presidency of all time.

Extraordinary as it sounds, going into an election against a man who has accurately been described a fascist, there is a strong chance that Clinton will be the right-wing option for voters on two key issues. Whilst Trump has denounced the Iraq War, Clinton was one of its architects. In her role as Secretary of State, she oversaw a foreign policy characterised by regular drone strikes in civilian areas; disastrous intervention in Libya; and pushed for a ground invasion of Syria. Just this weekend, Trump has come out and described Clinton as “trigger happy”, showing a clear intention to outflank her on foreign policy by appealing to America’s isolationist streak.  He will have more than enough ammunition to do so.

Similarly, on campaign financing, Clinton is open to attack. While it is a myth that Trump has self-financed his campaign, it is a pervasive and persuasive one. He has denounced the “horrible” effect that Super PACs and money in general has over American politics, a position that 84% of the public agree with.  As he gets on stage with Clinton when debate season roles round, he will be able to point to the fact that she is a politician that he in the past has donated to. Bizarrely, Trump can come across convincingly on this issue because, as a billionaire, he is ideally placed to know about the real effect that donations from the wealthy have on politicians.

This gets to the heart of the matter, and exposes why Clinton seems to be the worst possible candidate at the worst possible time. As the great Labour politician Roy Jenkins once said, the left “exists to change society”. This is the message Obama used to infatuate the electorate in 2008. Yet in this election, it is the man from the far right who offers the illusion of radical change, and it is the social democratic left who will be standing for the status quo. Clinton offers conservatism in the most literal sense of the word: things will not change under Hillary.

The problem with this, of course, is that America wants change. They wanted it in 2008, and after Obama turned out to be a sheep in wolf’s clothing, they want it even more today. The number of Americans with a favourable view of Congress is at a historic low of 16%. Americans have come to despise the Washington establishment, and Hillary Clinton personifies it. Perhaps this is why, even before the mud slinging of the election begins, 54.6% of people have an unfavourable view of her. Perversely, faced with the most divisive Republican candidate of all time, the left has put forward the most divisive ever Democrat.

Clinton’s campaign stinks of establishment arrogance. In the past week we have heard stories of her team reaching out to the financiers who backed Jeb Bush to see if they would consider backing her over Trump. Quite aside from the fact that this is a tacit admission of the conservatism of her economic policies, this is a huge middle finger to the huge swathes of her own party that supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, for whom neoliberal economics – its inequalities and deleterious effect on campaign financing – is the issue. She is taking their support for granted.

On the other side of the ticket, there are no signs of a candidate to do the establishment’s bidding. No one wanted Trump to win.  In fact, he has already vanquished two candidates who were anointed by the donors, in Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and one, in Ted Cruz, who was anointed by God himself (at least according to Ted’s father). As the comedian Bill Burr recently pointed out, if nothing else, Trumps success thus far proves that the votes really are counted.

And whilst it seems unthinkable that Trump might go all the way, remember it was unthinkable just months ago he would get this far. Historically unpopular he may be but Clinton seems to be a candidate tailor-made for him to beat. No one has more skeletons in their closet; no one has lied and contradicted herself more in TV interviews (as many a YouTube compilation shows); and no one will be able to use this as a stick to beat her with better than Donald Trump.  What’s more, Clinton is a candidate wrestling two significant scandals. On the one hand, we have heard reports that the Republican electoral machine is vigorously hunting down the transcripts of speeches she made to her backers on Wall Street.  Should they be found, they could well prove to be her equivalent of Mitt Romney’s 47% moment.  And…Oh yeah the FBI might indict her at any time over her mishandling of classified emails, which counts as breaking the Official Secrets Act.

Faced with an election working class Americans can’t afford to lose, the Democrats have put forward pretty much the only candidate who can. Hillary Clinton is not inevitable.

—Luca Tiratelli

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