I am sure that anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the political atmosphere has wondered what it would have been like if Hillary Clinton were elected president. Given the current state of acrimony in the country it is hard to imagine things being any worse if she were in office. But would a Hillary presidency have been better for posterity?
Since taking office, Donald Trump has passed the biggest corporate welfare program in history, while also ramping up military spending (with the new annual increase being enough to fund public college for a year). He is still attempting to take away healthcare from people by repealing Obamacare. He has allowed the increase of carbon emissions by withdrawing from the Paris Accord and gutted the EPA, which has wittingly deregulated pollution standards to toxic levels. He lined the richest Cabinet in modern history with Goldman Sachs lackeys, withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement, and continues to keep the entire world on edge with his erratic and capricious behavior. He attacks the free press with impunity along with any celebrity or public figure who dare criticizes him. He is a racistauthoritarian who is being guided by some truly evil people such as John Bolton and Stephen Miller. And let us not forget the time he vetoed a bill that would have finally stopped aiding the Saudi military’s genocide in Yemen. The country is possibly the most polarized it has ever been since the Civil War.
Yet I feel like having Hillary as president would have ended up with worse results because of the perpetuation of the status quo.
Hillary Clinton was the quintessential centrist candidate that would have perpetuated the status quo that the majority of the country is tired of. She refused to release transcripts from her Wall Street speeches, which later came back to bite her in the ass after a few of them leaked to the public. She would have kept Obamacare the way it was — which still left millions of people uninsured — instead of implementing Medicare for All or, at the very least, a public option. She was a huge proponent of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which further incentivized outsourcing, a practice that has been causing almost 100,000 people per year to lose their jobs. She would have done everything in her power to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al Asaad, creating a prodigious power vacuum that would have destabilized the Middle East even more.
The general rhetoric for eight long years from the Republican Party and Tea Party movement has been “let me fix these problems caused by the Democrats,” even though they largely agree with the same neoliberal and neoconservative policies. Since they have no viable solutions on ameliorating these problems other than mass deregulation due to their weird obsession with unfettered free-market capitalism, they do what they always do and kick the can down the road, promising to unveil some amazing policy plan that will save everybody once given the chance.
Except Trump won. They could no longer claim that they would do better and were now forced to make a move. The party promulgating wild conspiracy theories and empty promises was now in charge.
It was much easier for them to get away with these vacuous policy claims and baseless conspiracy theories when they weren’t the hegemon. Now, the public is beginning to see through their bullshit.
The GOP’s extreme hypocrisy has been put on full display since Trump took office, and people responded in 2018 by giving the Democrats the House majority. President Hillary Clinton would have had to deal with a Republican majority of the House and Senate. It’s hard for me to believe that any real positive policy change would have occurred under this circumstance, and the default excuse from Republicans would be to simply blame the Democrats. Americans had to witness a horrible two years under GOP rule, which is why they responded the way they did. The 2018 midterm elections could have very well ended with a Republican majority once again under a President Hillary Clinton.
Since she was aligned with the GOP in regards to outsourcing and imperialism, I feel like the policies they would agree on would be detrimental to the American people, as most bipartisan agreements are these days. Populism won in 2016, not centrism. Trump and Bernie Sanders both ran populist campaigns for the 2016 election, and Sanders ended up winning 22 states against a rigged system. Hillary skipped campaigning in the Rust Belt—an area that Trump focused on extensively—and ended up losing those key demographics.
Unfortunately, Trump ran on faux populism that preyed on those who had been hurt by outsourcing. People who voted twice for Obama voted for Trump, and many others have said that they would have voted for Bernie over Trump if that were the scenario. A Hillary Clinton presidency would not have exposed Trump’s faux populism — it would have enabled it. And it would have potentially slowed down the progressive movement because the centrist Democrats would have insisted that everything is fine when it wasn’t, causing further party divide while the GOP ridicules their ineptitude.
We would have had our own unique problems to deal with if Hillary were president, but in spite of everything we are currently dealing with as a country, I believe that a tumultuous Trump presidency has exposed many people for who they really are, both Republicans and Democrats. A true populist movement would have been weakened by a Hillary Clinton presidency and further emboldened the right-wing because it would have given them another four years to stridently refine their rhetoric of empty promises.