The presidential race between the two deplorables seems to be tightening by the day. Hillary Clinton can’t understand why.
The other day, she wondered aloud why she wasn’t beating Donald Trump by 50 points. A lot of people appalled by Trump are wondering why any candidate isn’t beating him by 50 points — as many Republicans feared would happen when they started jumping ship on The Donald (only to be asking now for tow ropes to be let back on). So, Hillary’s question is a good one, even if the mere fact of her asking it suggests the answer.
Let’s take Hillary’s number seriously, and see what it says — not about the American electorate, but about her.
If Hillary were in fact beating Trump in a two-person race, her majority would be 75 percent to 25 percent. But there are two other parties on the ballot, the Greens and the Libertarians, and their respective candidates have held pretty steady in the polls at about 10 percent. So, let’s take that off the top. That would leave the numbers between Clinton and Trump at 70 percent to 20 percent.
Who does Clinton think would actually vote for Trump? She’s already told us, in her now-infamous “basket of deplorables” comment. Half of Trump’s supporters, she said then, were “irredeemable” racists and bigots. They were voting for Trump because he was the perfect projection of their own hatemongering. Inferentially, they would probably vote for the devil too, because he’s your go-to guy if you’re beyond redemption.
At the time, Trump was polling roughly 40 percent of the national vote, give or take the usual margin of error. Half of that would be the 20 percent who would remain if Clinton were in fact beating Trump as she thinks she should be.
So, translation: Only a devil-worshipper would vote for Trump, and about a fifth of the American electorate falls into that category. Write ‘em off. They don’t belong in a decent democracy. They shouldn’t really be voting at all, and they should certainly never be allowed near any position of public responsibility. In short, they shouldn’t have citizenship.
So, Hillary will concede the “deplorables” to Trump, while making clear that her administration would have nothing to do with them. They would be the invisible deportees of the Republic, presumably held until we could find some country willing to take them.
You know, Donald Trump suggests only deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, and he’s even willing to let some of them back. Hillary’s list would be 30 million to 40 million. Maybe they could settle Siberia.
What, though, about the other 20 percent of Trump supporters — the ones who should be voting for Hillary, and giving her that 70 percent majority she thinks she’s entitled to? Those folks, she allows, aren’t hopelessly bad, just deluded. And why is that? It’s hard to say, but maybe many of them have been on hard times for awhile, despite the great Obama recovery that has still left the job market 2.1 million short of where it was in 2007 and the proportion of the working age population employed at its lowest figure in decades. They shouldn’t actually be punished supporting Trump; in fact, they’ll even have a few crumbs tossed their way, a little day care for the kids and that $12 minimum wage Clinton doesn’t bother talking about anymore (perhaps because some municipalities have already raised it to $15). But then they’ll have to shape up for that second term Hillary’s advertising has already promised us.
So, in Hillary-world, two out of every five voters are either bad or stupid. There is another possibility, though, which she doesn’t appear to have contemplated. In fact, it is not only a possibility; it is the reality. Most voters (and, by definition, all non-voters) don’t want her to be president. That includes a substantial number of people who plan to vote for her anyway. A recent poll showed that Clinton was regarded as “trustworthy” — one would say the minimum qualification for any job — by fewer than one-third of all respondents. In other words, roughly a third of those who say they’ll vote for Hillary Clinton to be their president wouldn’t regard her as properly qualified to clean their homes or collect their trash.
Clinton is frequently urged by supporters to reintroduce herself to the public, to show her human empathy, to emphasize her commitment to public service. This, after a quarter century’s exposure — as first lady, senator, Secretary of State, and two-time presidential candidate — has made her the best-known and most scrutinized public figure in the country.
Just maybe, Hillary may have already introduced herself to us one time too many. Maybe we know her all too well.
There’s the Hillary who actively supported her husband’s policies on mass incarceration, purging the welfare rolls and giving the banks free rein to bankrupt the economy, before belatedly having second thoughts about them.
There’s the Hillary who was in favor of approving the Iraq War before she was against it, but not until a near-unanimous opinion declared it the greatest American foreign policy blunder in modern times. .
There’s the Hillary who was against gay marriage until she was for it.
There’s the Hillary who touted the now-infamous Trans-Pacific Partnership as the “gold standard” of all trade treaties, before she decided it was a bad deal after all.
The Hillary who can’t produce the somehow-deleted e-mails from the private server she falsely claimed having had permission to use, and the evidence they may or may not have contained about selling access to the State Department under her watch.
And then there’s the compassionate Hillary. You know, the one who helped delete a whole country, Libya, from the map, and then crowed Roman-emperor style to reporters, when its ruler was killed in the streets: “We came. We saw. He died.” Or the Hillary who responded to the assassination of our ambassador to Libya and members of his staff, when she felt she’d been grilled about her responsibility for it long enough, “What difference does it make? They’re dead, aren’t they?”
That’s probably enough Hillary for most of us. But there’s another, more delicate subject that people prefer to trip around. It’s the Clinton marriage. A wife, even a first lady, who turns a blind eye to her husband’s philandering is exercising a private right, and Hillary Clinton would hardly have been the first first lady in such a predicament. No previous first lady, however, and perhaps no one in American history, has been exposed to such prolonged and public humiliation as Hillary Clinton was by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. At the time, I thought she could have struck a resounding blow for feminism by walking away from Bill Clinton, and given women everywhere an example of pride and independence. But Clinton, Inc. wasn’t going to junk its plan for a double presidency and a political dynasty. Whatever her private feelings, Clinton sublimated them into a quest for power already declared before her husband left office. She has let nothing stand in her way since, including her biggest obstacle (besides her own resumeé), Bill himself.
Do we want that particular power couple back in the White House? Couldn’t we just have the Sopranos instead? Or the Macbeths?
The problem, of course, is that the actual alternative is the Trumps. But that does not excuse the Democratic Party for having nominated Hillary Clinton; rather, it only makes its choice the more, well, deplorable. And, faced with the candidates the parties have delivered, the long-overdue question is, is this system working? Or, more accurately, for whom is it working? For this is not an election cycle that has simply produced two singularly unpalatable choices. It is a system that effectively freezes the wishes and will of the vast majority of the population out — the majority that wants a health care system that doesn’t bankrupt its users, an educational system that doesn’t lay students under a cross of debt, an economic system that doesn’t dump workers on the garbage pile, an environment one can hope to live in, and, in general, a future worth having. Other countries, far from perfect, have long since solved these problems, or at least seriously addressed them. Ours, year after year, election after election, does not.
Unions, when they existed, used to bring collective bargaining power to the table to win the working conditions they sought. We all belong to a single great Union, though: it’s called the United States. Suppose voters did what organized workers used to do when presented with a lousy contract? Suppose they just went on strike, and demanded to renegotiate the whole compact?
The results might be interesting. And we could start, I think, by getting rid of the two sham parties that have come to monopolize our political process, and denied us a government of the people.