The Dangers Of Nominating Hillary Clinton To Liberal Principles & The Democratic Brand
An article at Salon entitled More like Reagan than FDR: I’m a millennial and I’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton is receiving considerable attention for providing reasons why the author would not vote for Hillary Clinton. Walker Bragman began by suggesting that the usual course would be to utilize primaries to try to select the candidate most aligned with the change he wants, and then vote for the lesser of two evils in the general election if it came to this. He argues that this strategy doesn’t apply this year due to the manner in which the DNC is resisting the possibility of selecting a change candidate in rigging the rules for Clinton.
Bragman then went through the arguments as to why he does not want to vote for Clinton. I would recommend reading his actual post as, while I am outlining his arguments, his actual post has many details and links which are worth reading. He started with Hillary’s personality repels me (and many others). The section would be better labeled with her character as opposed to personality, as it deals with her dishonesty and double talk.
The next section is more accurately labeled with On foreign policy, Clinton is a neoconservative. This section primarily deals with her approach to handling ISIS, and I would add more regarding her neoconservative views on Iraq and Libya.
The next section is On domestic policy, Clinton is basically a moderate Republican. Many examples are listed to back this up, concentrating on economic policy. I would have included her conservative views on civil liberties and social/cultural issues. Of course an article would have to be quite long to include all the reasons why liberals should not vote for Clinton–and I have pointed out other posts elsewhere along these lines in the past.
The final section is Choosing Hillary threatens the future of the Democratic Party. The section notes the conservative background of New Democrats such as Bill Clinton. I would also take this a step further. Hillary Clinton supports many ideas which Democrats would never accept from a Republican, but many Democrats defend when it comes from Clinton. Similarly, Democrats would be very skeptical of a Republican who received such large contributions from Wall Street, or who benefited financially from parties they were making decisions about. Yet many Democrats ignore unethical conduct from Clinton they would never accept from a Republican. Maybe this wouldn’t hurt the future of the Democratic Party, but it would leave us with a Democratic Party which stands for even less than the party now stands for. That threaten the future of the nation.
The article gives many excellent reasons to vote for Sanders over Clinton in the primaries, along with reasons to be upset if the system gives the nomination to Clinton without a fair fight. However, should Clinton win the nomination, it does not address the fact that the Republican candidate will be even more conservative than Clinton on some issues. While Clinton is more like Reagan than FDR, and is in many ways a combination of George W. Bush and Richard Nixon, the Republican Party has moved much further to the right in recent years.
This leaves the question as to whether it will matter if Clinton or a Republican wins–which is more difficult to say without knowing which Republican will be the GOP nominee. It is definitely possible that there will be no meaningful difference with regards to foreign policy and civil liberties issues if Clinton or a Republican wins. There is the danger that the next president will be hostile to government transparency, and nobody has reached the level of the Clinton corruption in using the office of the presidency to enhance their personal worth. We will probably see a continuation of the surveillance state and of the drug war regardless of whether Clinton or a Republican wins.
The biggest danger in a Clinton presidency would be that many Democrats will support conservative policies, leaving a weak liberal opposition to her policies, while there would be greater unity in opposing what might even be the exact same policies coming from Republicans. The question is not, as many put it, whether Clinton is more liberal than the Republicans, but whether the country will be dragged more to the right by a Republican president (facing more unified Democratic opposition) versus by Clinton compromising liberal principles, with many Democrats going along. Another issue posed by Walker, when I discussed the article with him after I posted the first version of this at Liberal Values was, “… I do acknowledge that Hillary would be better than a Republican—I just think the damage she will do to the Democratic brand outweighs this consideration.” He has a legitimate concern that Clinton’s unethical behavior could taint the entire Democratic Party for years to come, ultimately strengthening the Republican Party and making it more difficult for Democrats to be elected in the future. A Clinton presidency does run the risk of putting the Democrats in the position that the Republicans were in after Watergate, although the Republicans did not take long to overcome that.
The biggest upside to Clinton winning over the Republicans might be that, after campaigning as a progressive for the nomination, she will continue to govern as one. At very least Clinton would support a handful of liberal positions such as reproductive rights if elected. While this would be favorable, it is hardly enough to be happy with the prospect of her election considering her many conservative views. Unfortunately we have already seen her swing to the right on some issues in the past month, and she has shown throughout her career that she cannot be trusted to stand up for liberal ideas when they conflict with political expediency. Plus many of the differences we now see between the campaign pitches of Clinton and the GOP candidates are far less differences on the issues and more a matter of which party’s voters they are currently trying to attract.
The biggest differences could be the veto pen and the Supreme Court. There is now the possibility of a bill reaching Obama’s desk to repeal Obamacare from the Republican Congress–and we can be certain it will not be replaced with a single payer system. If this happens, Obama will veto it. Clinton would also veto it, along with other conceivable damaging legislation the Republicans might get through Congress. Clinton would also choose Supreme Court justices from a far different pool than any Republican president would, and it is possible they would be more conventional Democrats as opposed to ones as conservative as she is.
I don’t mean this to argue either way as to whether Sanders supporters should vote for Clinton or write in Sanders should Clinton win the Democratic nomination. This is a personal decision for each voter, and it is far too early to argue over this, especially considering that we don’t know who will win either party’s nomination at this point. It is also way too early, and far too annoying, for Clinton supporters to constantly interrupt discussion among Sanders or O’Malley supporters on Facebook, and elsewhere in social media, to ask if they will vote for Clinton in the general election. It certainly shows a degree of insecurity about their candidate that they are so fearful that many Democrats will not turn out to vote for their candidate in the general election.
Not living in a battle ground state also makes it far easier for me to consider what would amount to a protest vote should Clinton win the nomination, while I might vote differently if I anticipated a situation like Florida in 2000. There are also major differences in comparing the situation with Nader and Gore in 2000. Gore was not as conservative as Clinton, and he does not carry her negative baggage. It was unfortunate that Bush and not Gore won due to their different views on foreign policy, leading to the Iraq war. In this case, Clinton shares the neoconservative views which we would have been better off keeping out of office in 2000. Plus Gore is not likely to have tainted the Democratic brand based upon unethical conduct as a Clinton presidency risks doing.
As many liberal voters will never vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstance, there could be an upside to them turning out to write in Sanders (or vote third party) for president as opposed to staying home. I fear that having Clinton on top of the ticket will depress the Democratic vote, harming those running down ticket. If instead of staying home voters write in Sanders, they might then vote for Democrats running for Congress and other positions. Rather than writing in Sanders, as many now say they will do, I would first take a closer look at the Green Party, feeling that this might help build a more long term opposition force from the left than writing in Sanders would. This is about policy positions and principles, not personalities.
Updated from a post at Liberal Values