Hillary 2020? Hell no! Let’s never forget why she lost in 2016.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton recently indicated that she might not rule out running for president again. But that would be a massive disaster. Because if the Democratic Party fails to realize that ‘brand Clinton’ is toxic, it will only doom itself to repeat the humiliating defeat of 2016.

“I’d like to be president”

On 26 October, Kara Swisher of Recode magazine asked Clinton during an interview whether she wished to run for the presidency again. She hesitated before answering “no”. But after Swisher pressed her on the matter, and commented on the hesitation, Clinton appeared to concede that she was not ruling it out. And she said, “well, I’d like to be president.”

No one should be surprised that Clinton still harbors hopes of entering the White House. But evidently, not even losing to a reality-TV yahoo got it into her skull that she was a terrible candidate from the get-go. And what’s even more shocking is that many people still seem to be in denial about this reality.

A dismally weak candidate

The story of Clinton’s inflated self-importance is now a familiar one. From the moment the 2016 Democratic Party primaries began, she presented herself as the only viable candidate that could beat Trump. She condescendingly dismissed Bernie Sanders and his supporters as fringe fantasists. Even after the election, she had the gall to blame him for her loss by claiming he offered unrealistic proposals.

The reality, however, was the exact opposite. Clinton was, and still is, one of the most widely despised figures in US politics. She is, according to a 2017 Bloomberg National Poll, even more unpopular than Trump. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has been consistently ranked as the most popular politician in the country. And during the campaign itself, polls consistently projected Sanders as the only candidate that could beat Trump – directly contradicting Clinton’s claims.

Legitimate grievances

The reason for this is straightforward. Whereas Sanders gave voice to the real economic concerns of working- and middle-class Americans, Clinton represented the stale status quo of the Obama years. And as the Canary has previously reported, these millions of people – many of whom ended up supporting Trump – had legitimate grievances about this status quo.

Their grievances were due to the fact that the Obama administration barely deviated from the neoliberal economic policies of the George W. Bush era. And Clinton played a leading role in Obama’s government as secretary of state between 2009 and 2013. Her association with the establishment brand of ‘socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor’ meant that she was (rightly) perceived as having done nothing for ordinary people. And from that abject failure emerged Trump’s right-wing populist movement, which promised to smash the Washington elite that was responsible; to ‘drain the swamp’, in Trumpian language.

Read on...

Trump successfully misdirected the anger of these ordinary people toward classic scapegoat targets such as minority groups and the immigrant community. Whereas Sanders could have successfully courted the support of many by identifying the actual cause of inequality and marginalisation while providing an alternative economic program to fit, the nomination of Clinton as the Democratic candidate played right into Trump’s hands.

The populist playbook

Trump painted Clinton, with good reason, as the very embodiment of the Wall Street sellout and Washington crook of the Democratic Party’s establishment wing. And this, in turn, allowed him to falsely pass himself off as the underdog outsider fighting against the self-serving, special-interest, Washington elite.

To the politically astute, this was a transparent con job. But unfortunately, many people took the bait (including one in ten of those who had voted for Sanders in the Democratic primaries). As Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara wrote in February 2017:

The problem with our democracy isn’t the threat of foreign intervention – it’s that voters were given a choice between two candidates that didn’t represent their interests. Enough of them, rationally enough, decided to stay at home or try their chances on a buffoonish outsider.

Time for genuine progressives

Granted, Clinton did win the popular vote in 2016. But an even half-decent candidate would have trounced a repugnant demagogue like Trump in a decisive landslide.

If the Democrats want to avoid a repeat of this humiliating failure, they need to jettison establishment figures like Clinton in favor of genuine progressives like Sanders. As Sunkara puts it:

It’s time the Democrats either decide to offer something else on the menu or go out of business.

Get Involved!

– To see information on truly progressive candidates in the US, see Our Revolution and Justice Democrats.

– If you’re a US resident, you can also join and participate in the activities of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed