I have been covering the US Presidential Election for over six months now and I have been watching it through a mix of emotions including, but not limited to, anticipation, excitement, and terror. Much of the discussion about the presidential race is about the GOP for very legitimate reasons as they are currently decided between a fascist, an evangelical psychopath, and man so slippery he could be mistaken for an eel. However the Democratic race has always interested me more and following the Democratic primary in Nevada I think the Clinton campaign has a renewed sense of belief. The danger from this is that because of this injection of optimism they will become sloppy, and this may result in a Republican in the White House.
In case you didn’t realise I am incredibly left-wing; to me being called a liberal is indeed an insult because its so inaccurate that its like calling FDR a Ron Paul copycat. I am not in the business of defending the Clinton family, I think that people often mistake Bill Clinton’s presidency as good because there were few economic problems when he was in the White House, but forget many things including: the deregulation of Wall Street, the introduction of systemically homophobic policies, the exacerbation of the drug war, and the implementation of trade policies that perpetuate neo-liberal capitalism which is a key cause of misery in developing countries. Bill Clinton is a corporate prostitute, who will do or say anything if it is politically expedient. Unfortunately it appears that Hillary Clinton isn’t much better. Having said all that, someone in my ideological position has a preference for the Clintons than an actual fascist. I want Sanders to win the nomination, but if Clinton is the favourite her supporters need to demand that she doesn’t play into her opponents hands.
Donald Trump is the current Republican frontrunner and he, in a general election, will be able to turn to Clinton and claim that she is corrupt and beholden to Wall Street for two reasons. Firstly, because she is. And secondly because he is largely self-funding his campaign. In the primary debates with Sanders, Clinton has been arguing that she will harsher on the banks and on Wall Street than any other candidates which is clearly untrue and actually contradicts her overall message of being the more moderate and pragmatic candidate.
However the danger with this is that Donald Trump hasn’t actually been spouting Republican talking points about the necessity of Wall Street being deregulated and everyone else sucking it up; he’s been saying, in language that required some partial translation into coherent English, that the financial sector needed some reform. Do I believe Trump when he says that? Of course not, but I don’t believe Clinton either. The Republican candidate will be able to paint Clinton as a Washington insider, because she clearly is, and this will help them to galvanise independent voters. Clinton needs to get into the White House and actually do things that she may not like in order to prevent her more left-wing supporters jumping ship.
Another aspect of this is that Clinton isn’t seen as trustworthy, and that’s probably because she’s a spineless and pathetic liar. A Quinnipiac poll from December asked voters about candidates’ personal characteristics and 59% of those surveyed said that she was dishonest, with only 35% saying the opposite. The same poll found that 58% found Trump to be dishonest, with 36% saying that he was honest. Obviously these numbers are essentially the same but think about who Clinton’s opponent might be: a man who has lied so many times that many organisations have simply stopped fact-checking him because they don’t have the resources or time. Clinton needs to do something that will make her campaign more trusted.
So what can Clinton do to secure the presidency in November? She needs to get the support of people on the Left of the party, plain and simple. Due to the DNC trying to rig the nomination process for Clinton, and a litany of lies from the Clinton campaign about what Bernie Sanders wants to do, there is a growing movement among some Sanders supporters called ‘Bernie Or Bust’. The basic premise is that these people Sanders supporters that will not vote in the general election or will vote for a third party if Clinton is the nominee, and to be honest if I was American I would probably do the same because I refuse to be considered as an active supporter of Hillary Clinton. Clinton, if she is the nominee, needs to do something bold in order to prevent this, and what I believe is necessary is having Bernie Sanders as her running mate.
This will be the quickest and most effective way of guaranteeing the election for Clinton. It will enable Sanders to continue campaigning and generating the necessary enthusiasm to put Clinton over the top, as well as energising young people and independents to turn up on election day. It will also enable Clinton to continue claiming to be a progressive, whilst enabling Sanders to turn to the more left-wing elements of the base and say that he’ll be able to hold her feet to the fire. This strategy may also work if she enlists the support of Elizabeth Warren but Sanders would be a better bet as he is already in the public eye and doesn’t have to run for re-election in the Senate this year.
A lot of the media pundits on US television who are essentially Clinton supporters are now calling for Sanders to drop out of the race in the name of party unity. I actually agree with one thing in this statement, but I don’t think Bernie should drop out. The pundits are talking about party unity as if it is the most important thing in the world and some more left-wing commentators in their scramble to support Sanders have totally dismissed this idea. I disagree with both positions.
Sanders shouldn’t drop out because we’ve only have three primaries, but party unity in the long term is important. It’s not important because I believe the Democratic Party must survive at all costs, I could give the tiniest shit about whether the Democratic party dies tomorrow. What is needed is the populist appeal of Sanders’ campaign to be transferred to the wider Democratic campaign if Clinton becomes the nominee. What I believe Clinton will do is see off Sanders’ challenge, pivot back to the centre-ground and pick a slimy politician to be her running mate, thus making attacks from the GOP about the Democrats being the ‘party of Washington’ even more potent. By having Bernie as her running mate, the Democratic Party would be united under a Clinton-Sanders ticket, and the enthusiasm would be on their side.
As I said, I do not think Clinton will do this and that is why I think the Democrats may lose the White House. The Democrats need to have momentum going into the general election because this will increase turnout among Democratic voters and this will assist candidates in House and Senate races. Without this bump both Houses of Congress will remain in Republican hands. If you thought obstruction was bad under Obama you should remember that they hate Hillary more.
If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, which I hope atheist God doesn’t let happen, she has got to something bold to unify the party, which has expanded to include more FDR-style left-wing populists. She should use Bernie’s honesty and popular appeal among the young and independents, but I expect her not to do this because she is a terrible candidate with even worse judgement. The next six months will not be fun.